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Staying Inspired During Non-Inspirational Times

By Pat Neville

Sometimes I tend to give myself a bad case of the blues, I start thinking negatively about my music, bands or self and when that happens it’s important for me to step back from it all for a while and remind myself why it is I do what I do.

I start thinking to myself things like:  “Why do I keep doing this music thing?” “What’s the point?  I’m going nowhere.” “No one cares.”  It’s slippery slope sometimes.  You begin to let the little things start to bug you, you lose focus of your original goals, you feel like you’ve really lost your direction in a lot of ways and the original reasons behind you do what you do.  You let superficial things come between you and your music and the fun of performance.

Sometimes it’s easy to get wound up in all of the BS and you forget who you are and where you came from.  We can’t all be millionaire rock stars and even if you could be, would you choose that path for yourself?  Is it all about the fancy cars, fur coats, spotlights, red carpet and money now?  It’s easy to get lost in that pipe dream and when it happens to me I have to give myself a reality check and try to remember why it is I started to play in the first place.  It’s because I love music, period.  I love playing it, listening to it, doing it, making it, recording it, learning it, and writing it along with the ultimate experience and thrill of the live performance.

One of the greatest things you have to remember about being a preforming musician is the unknown amount of people you inspire with your music at every show.  Even if no one directly tells you, there is someone out there who you’ve reached.  That young wide-eyed boy that walked by the stage with his mother, looking at you in awe like "Whoa, what is that guy doing?", "I wanna do that someday." Who knows, you may have just inspired the next Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young, Stephen Stills or Jimmy Page to pick up a guitar and/or any other instrument and create a whole new world of awesome music.  You might not ever get to know it, but you are helping to shape the future of music and that is damn important.

But even the toothless street crackhead banging wildly on an out of tune guitar has the power to inspire others in a certain way, even if it’s just knowing what not to sound like or what you want to be.  I remember being very young at an arts festival some time ago and watching the band on the stage. I don't know what their names were, or who they were. All I know is it gave me a drive inside that said "One day I wanna do that, I wanna be like those guys" and I’ll never forget that time or the many other times I saw local performing musicians as a young child and was amazed by it.

  You never know who or what your music, art, writings, etc. may inspire. Maybe the lyrics of what you think is your lousiest song just happens to strike a chord with someone and they think twice about going on that shooting rampage, buying that next rock o’ crack, or jumping off that building to end it all.

That fact is, you just never know. You just have to keep putting it out there; it travels further than you think and has an effect whether you know it or not.  Everything matters in one way or another, from the most epic rock ballad ever, to the lousiest ,poorly-written songs, someone is going to hear it and you never know what may come of that.

I always try and think of these things if I’m getting myself down, getting unrealistic or when I'm playing at any of my shows and as my music leaves my amp and my voice leaves those speakers … it's going out there and having an effect. You may never be a famous person or make millions doing it, but the things you create in the world by doing it anyway are endless. You will never know all the people you inspire or whatnot, but that's half the fun, isn't it?  

There’s something golden in the not knowing and hearing that you inspired someone is probably one of the best complements I think you could ever get as a musician.  At least it is for me, it brings it all back into focus and reminds me to relax and just keep on truckin’.