Inner torment or sell out for fame – what’s the difference?
Inner torment or sell out for fame – what’s the difference?
Going through my teens I idolised a lot of musicians. Rock n’ roll was the theme and I adored the ideal of the lifestyle it promoted. Playing loud music, partying with friends, scoring women and doing drugs. It was the dream. An easy life, full of comfort. Or so I thought…
Implementing this lifestyle became a natural progression from the influence of all the music docos I watched. I remember watching the film the School of Rock and wanting to be the drummer. Why? Well, he was obviously the coolest. The rebel, the one with attitude and spunk. So, I learned to play the drums and joined a band. And not long after that, the indulgences of the rock and roll lifestyle began to fall into place. First came the drug taking: it was part and parcel of the image of what I thought was a rock and roller – the so-called ‘rebel’ of the music scene.
While the idea of sleeping around with a lot of women was tantalising, I could never actually bring myself to do it. For my whole life I have felt a natural care and respect for all women. It’s like a sense of sacredness, and I now realise that this sense of sacredness is within me too. So even in my most self-indulgent state I couldn’t bring myself to use or corrupt this. But I did find myself in a relationship, and so the ‘sex’ box was ticked.
Now the only thing I needed was for my band to become famous. This part didn’t come as easily as I had hoped. There was a lot of competition between bands, and life seemed to be offering no easy break. I was hoping that some promoter would come to a show and sign us on, just like my idols. The hours spent in a studio, trying to perfect a track. The agony of rehearsing endlessly with the band to sound ‘tight’.
I convinced myself that the break was around the corner – I was always locating myself in an ideal future. In this dream of playing the ‘world stage’, with thousands of fans cheering at me; being seen as a ‘god’ like all the rock n’ rollers of the past.
Until one day, the agony of holding onto this ideal future became too much, and I asked myself if it was worth it. And in this simple question, my eyes began to open to the true world of rock n’ roll. It wasn't all it seemed and was certainly a far cry from the glamourous life I had held it to be. The glamour that I so desperately focussed on when reading and watching videos of my favourite artists began to have less emphasis on my awareness. I began to notice the tormented artists that lay beneath the illusion of glamour and success … I started to truly see the toll that the lifestyle had on them. The months away from home, family or friends. The perpetual repetition of the same songs. The broken relationships and dysfunctional friendships. The ravaged bodies from cigarettes, drugs and alcohol. The squabbles in the recording studio.
Slowly elements of these issues began to play out in my own life and in those of my band mates. Again, what was it all for? The dream? A moment of recognition when walking out on the stage to thousands of screaming fans. But when I saw my favourite artists at a show, I could see that even the glorified walk on stage had lost its charm. They looked tired and ready for the show to just be over, before it had even begun. To some degree this was because many of the shows I saw were part of the last leg of an artist’s tour. But this was a blessing for insight. To see what ‘the road’ really does to people.
I realised that the ‘rock n’ roll’ life was devoid of true love – true love and not emotional torment or overbearing attachment; love as a natural state of being, an everyday living movement that fosters true harmony within oneself and with everyone else in their life. So, I made the choice instead to devote my life to true love, and I extracted myself out of the illusion I had so created and willingly entertained through ‘rock n’ roll’.
So, there we have it. I was once fully absorbed into a model of life and it was called ‘Sex, drugs and rock and roll’. I call it a ‘model of life’ because in truth it lacked all originality. It was not new. It is a role and lifestyle that has tantalised musicians through the ages. It seemed that it had been created for me and was a perfect fit for my dream. My musician friends were also in the same illusion to varying degrees. The desperate need to be a ‘perfect’ musician – to be like our idols. It’s a story that’s been rehashed a million times over.
Now when I reflect on it, there’s perhaps a truthful reason why the fame didn’t come easily. It may be easy to say that the band wasn’t ‘good’ enough, but is that what was really going on? Who is measuring what is good enough when music is truly just one’s expression from within, externalised into an audible vibration? So, if it wasn’t that we weren’t good enough, then what? Perhaps we never really wanted to sell ourselves to a life of torment for the illusion of fame.
Yes, we were willing to go so far, but in reality our integrity and the respect that we had for each other surpassed our individual ‘needs’. And in that, the bands I played in naturally concluded without a rift between us. I feel that we all valued our unique expression over what we knew would ‘sell’.
The issue is that this dream for fame as a musician on the world stage still grabs many. The story is always the same, perhaps with a different flavour, different life circumstances, family situation, or area of the world. But the drive for fame is perpetuated. This can be seen in the increase in talent shows around the world. Now children can perform as well as adults – the illusion starts early. It requires a level of honesty to ask oneself: “Am I doing this because it brings me genuine joy, fosters a love and nurturing of myself that can then be taken to others to confirm the equal love that they are? Or am I doing this simply for recognition … to be liked … to have my named shouted by screaming people”?
True music should be recognised for its vibrational quality, and a form of expression for evolution and expansion. Otherwise, we only seem to keep ourselves trapped in the emptiness of emotional turmoil and desire, tantalised by cheap fame, where the love we think we exchange and pour into our music is never able to fulfil us.
The music that I have come to feel truly supports me to realise the love that I am has been that of the many artists found on this website. Chris James, Michael Benhayon, Catherine Wood, Tina Kopa, just to name a few. These are musicians who have extracted themselves from any ideal or belief of what it is to even be a musician. Their music is written with the integrity to support all equally, without any picture of what it may look like. They have inspired me to realise that music can be joyful, playful, sexy, sacred, ultimately loving, healing and from a depth of the universal folds that is not from this world.
If you’d like to hear this glorious music check it out here: Enjoy!