Lately I’ve been trying to challenge myself by reading different music writings; typically biographies and some essay collections. It’s a good way for me to study my craft and find writers to look up to (as suggested by writing mentor, who just released a book today about K Records that I also plan on reading). It’s been great studying different writers’ styles and also getting in depth looks at some of my favorite artists (Jeff Buckley, Kurt Cobain, etc.).
Usually I’ll go back and read the foreward or author’s notes after I finish a book. A couple weeks ago when I finished David Browne’s book Dream Brother I was reading through his foreward and he mentioned something about how his own father died before the book was published. The weirdest thought hit me as I read that: This author is just some guy, some normal dude like all the other normal people I interact with every day and see at the grocery store comparing prices on produce.
I’m not exactly sure why that’s what came to mind first. It was a sweet sentiment to acknowledge his father and there really was nothing weird or unusual about it. I think it was that I had just finished reading this fantastical interweaving story about two father-and-son musical figures (Tim Buckley and Jeff Buckley) that both lived untimely but profound lives that seemed other earthly. Coming from that to an image of a real life guy who has a real life father with real life problems, it was almost unsettling. Selfishly, I think its because I saw myself in David Browne – and for some reason I saw that as a bad thing.
This all probably comes back to my initial inspiration for writing: Cameron Crowe’s film Almost Famous. After dwelling on the film over a couple of years, I though a career as a rock journalist would be the perfect profession. Touring with bands, free music, having crazy experiences with the artists, etc. As I’ve progressed in my education and experiences, I still think its the perfect career for me but much for the chance to tell the stories of the artists rather than the thrills of it all. But still, 17-18 year old Dusty crept in as I read Browne’s forward because his life didn’t seem like what I watched in Almost Famous, it seemed boring in comparison to the Buckley’s and I didn’t want to be doomed to the same fate. I didn’t want to be boring.
After a little while I sort of came to my senses. Brown was living my dream. He had the chance to craft a definitive, beautiful, winding tale of two astounding artists. He is not a rock star, but he is the unsung hero sharing the whole story and giving the rest of the world a wider perspective of where the music came from. To me, that is the ultimate goal. Writing a piece that can captivate people and leave them with something else they didn’t have before reading it. That idea is exciting to me, not boring.
In the end, I’d be happy to end up on the Browne spectrum of things rather than the Buckley end. Being a writer doesn’t mean I sit at home, drinking tea and writing while watching The View – it means going after the stories, taking risks, and putting yourself in the middle of the action. Well at least I think that’s probably part of it. Still figuring all this out. Being graduated from college doesn’t actually mean I know what I’m talking about – I’ve got a lot to learn still. Until then, I’ll keep hitting the books. I know I’m heading down the right path and being content with that is what I need right now.