How deep can you go?

I am fascinated by humanity. As a musician, I think it’s the first and last building block to make great music.

For example it is common knowledge that pain is helps to reveal artists. Stevie Ray Vaughn started to drink heavily before he was 10 years old. Jim Morrison had a complicated childhood. All the pain in the world is in Janis Joplin’s voice. Beethoven’s father was an abusive son of a gun. And the list goes on and on.

But, some people have a problem: they want to make deep music despite the fact that they had a pretty good childhood or ok lives. The problem is they feel they don’t have enough pain and suffering to make good music. What to do? A lot of them turn towards technique. If the line is not strong, they think, at least it will be correctly beautiful. Some of them make up dramas. They will invent themselves a personality that doesn’t exist, and a difficult personality at that. You find great examples of those among divas.

But, the most interesting case I’ve ever came across was this composer/singer/guitar player.

He was a good guy. Stable. Honest. Well put together.

But he needed pain, you see. Because he wanted to play the blues. That was his style of choice. The blues is a sweet form of pain, struggle. And our guy’s life was not in pain. He wasn’t addicted to anything, he paid his bills on time. He was doing all right.

So, he told me he was going to record his album. It was decided. He even had the studio booked. As for the pain, you see, the pain required to make a soulful album: he was going to leave his wife. He was planning on a big argument and leave her. Yes, just like that!

Now, I thought it was a bit extreme. I wasn’t expecting him to do it.

But he did!

He messed up pretty bad though. Because she threw him out. Yes, he lost his roof for good. The house belonged to her, and that was that! So he started to sleep in his car to rough it up, you know, to experience the pain, to go to the end of despair. We were all so impressed. It was during the Chicago winter. After a while, he also lost his job. Was it because he had bad body odor (his car wasn’t equipped with a shower), or the fact that he couldn’t sleep very well (he had a little hatch back)? We don’t know, but we were in awe. He was so great in his quest for misery! That blues he was going to play would be worth something!

Well, we never finished the album. He decided to funnel his money towards a deposit for an apartment. The recording was costing too much. So, it became an aborted experiment. I don’t know if the pain you create is as valid as the one the world inflicts upon you.

His wife never came back, though.