Winning the Grammy in 1986
Yesterday I wrote an open email to a widely read music industry newsletter re the longstanding mistreatment of songwriters in the entertainment industry, veering off into the music industry ignoring the Internet until it had almost swallowed them up. Today, Mark Cuban posted this on his Facebook page which led to it spreading virally. I’ve had so many people email me and send me Facebook messages today I decided to post what I wrote myself:
Hi, Bob (Lefsetz). I’m Allee Willis. Songs I’ve written include September, Boogie Wonderland, Neutron Dance, What Have I Done To Deserve This, the Friends theme and the Broadway musical, The Color Purple. One of my earliest hits, Lead Me On by Maxine Nightengale, was co-written with David Lasley, who Andre Pessis talked about in his email to you. We also wrote the first cover I ever got, Got You On My Mind, by Bonnie Raitt in 1974. I’m weighing in because in 1981, after getting hundreds of songs cut in just a couple of years, I was the first songwriter who tried to unionize writers because of all that Ellen Shipley wrote about and more. I was also the first pop songwriter I know of to embrace the Internet in 1991. I started designing a collaborative social network in 1992 and, much of that time with my then partner, Mark Cuban, got laughed out of publishing and record company offices when we suggested they take the Internet and all digital technologies seriously.
The songwriting union never got off the ground as much because of the ever-confusing work for hire issue as the fear many songwriters had of being blackballed. Our mistreatment wasn’t the dirty little secret of the music industry. If it were a secret that at least would have been something. In reality, it was a non issue, not even a notch in the totem pole of consciousness.
I’ve written with and for hundreds of incredible artists and my songs have been at the top of the Pop, R&B, Jazz, Country, Dance and Alternative charts. I absolutely love writing songs and composing scores. But with success came an emptiness from the 1001 ways to screw a songwriter, long accepted as standard industry practice. This was coupled with a growing trend that if you were a songwriter who wrote for artists or producers other than yourself what you had to write to get records was progressively more homogenized. The dumbing down killed me even more than the screwing.
Other things that made me nuts (and thankfully led to a massive branching out of my career beyond songwriting): A) Writing up to ten songs for someone and only seeing one or two make the album despite being told repeatedly you’re the only writer working with them. (Where there’s no payment there’s no accountability.) B) Artists and producers sitting on songs for months and years until they had enough of them that the earliest songs felt old and they were cast out like a homeless kitten with one leg. C) Giving away pieces of publishing and songwriting shares just to get cuts lest your spot be filled by a more de-spirited and desperate songwriter than yourself. D) Settling for mere songwriting credit when your demo was used as the actual record – I was literally told by a major female artist that I didn’t deserve credit as a producer or arranger as I was “only the songwriter and that’s what songwriters do”. E) Babysitting artists who had absolutely zero songwriting chops, doing whatever it took to keep your brain functioning as they deliberated whether an ‘a’ or ‘the’ was better for their already idiotic lyric. I’ve often said that unless you were the artist yourself, being a songwriter was like changing towels in the restroom, only difference being that the restroom attendant got paid.
And then there’s movie soundtracks, where songs are sent out as temp tracks to be copied by other writers. One of the last straws for me was when I received a copy of my own song, Neutron Dance, already out on a Pointer Sisters’ LP, and told to rip it off for Beverly Hills Cop. After my co-writer, Danny Sembello, and I stewed for a couple of weeks we decided no one could rip us off better than ourselves. We wrote a parallel song that mimicked the lyric – Neutron Dance’s “I don’t want to take it anymore, I’ll just stay here locked behind the door” became “I can’t stay here while I go nowhere” in the new song. We slightly adjusted the drum track. We never heard anything after we submitted it – another standard practice after you’re hounded to hand something in. Three weeks before the film was released we found out that only because Jerry Bruckheimer pulled a tape out of his wastebasket that his song screener had passed on and checked it to make sure he could tape over it did he hear our copy song, Stir It Up, and insist it go into the soundtrack. They never found a better song than Neutron Dance and that stayed in too. Not only did I win a Grammy for Best Soundtrack but, in one of my favorite musical moments, I was named one of the most dangerous subversives living in the United States by the Communist government when they mistranslated the song as Neutron Bomb.
A decade later, in fairly infamous songwriting lore, two of the three producers of Friends, a full year after the song was a hit, demanded songwriter royalties because they had given me notes. I don’t know very many composers who write for film or tv who don’t get notes from producers or directors. By that point I was full throttle into my interactive career, building my prototype for willisville, my social network, and spending every dime on it that I earned from consulting for Microsoft, AOL, Silicon Graphics, Electronic Arts, Fox, Disney, Warner Bros. and Intel, who partially funded the prototype build (tho in reality I was stuck adding music and visuals to an excessively dorky technology they had already invested in). So I just gave in and watched my share of the Friends theme plummet because, as I heard it, these producers always wanted to be composers. To add insult to injury, The Rembrandts never agreed to the song being released as a single as they resented not writing it by themselves so despite it being one of the biggest airplay records of the year singles income was nil.
In 2006, I had songs in three of the Top 10 films of the Year – Babel , Happy Feet and Night At The Museum. I didn’t know about any of them until I sat in the theater and heard them. Then it meant spending money to hire someone to track them down and to see if I’d been paid. Shouldn’t the songwriter, not to mention co-copyright owner, be informed and allowed to negotiate when their songs are used?
Currently, I have a theme to a hit VH-1 show that’s already run one season and is filming the next right now. The production company still hasn’t submitted cue sheets to BMI for season one and the credits are so small and run so fast no one can even see my name which, I guess, isn’t a real problem as songwriting credits aren’t even listed.
Fate in the theater world is not much better. Depending on the producer, composers and lyricists have little to no say about the way their music is arranged or mixed or how their show is promoted. Musicals take an average of five years to write so this can be especially heartbreaking.
The blessing of all of this was that very early on I was so unhappy I started to paint, soon after motorizing my art to my music. This led to art directing tons of music videos for people like The Cars, Debbie Harry and Heart. I kept writing songs, still loving the actual act of songwriting, and also because my publishing deals helped finance each new field I went into. But music publishers were not great at recognizing the value of multi-media careers. Brain dead might be a more accurate description. Despite selling close to 50,000,000 records my advances were numbifyingly low compared to writers who had much less success. As opposed to thinking a broad artistic vision might actually enhance the contribution I could make my multi-medianess was looked at as a threat to the number of songs I could churn out. The exception to publishers wearing blinders (altho the low advances still persisted) was Kathleen Carey at Unicity (MCA), who hooked me up with Pet Shop Boys by selling their manager some of my art which led to me being hired to do their portrait. During the sitting Neil Tennant put it together that I was the same A. Willis on some of his favorite records and we started writing WHIDTDT that night. And also, Judy Stakee at Warner/ Chappell, who took my interest in digital technology seriously and introduced me to Mark Cuban in 1992. Despite this, W/C would hear nothing of removing my song quota and letting me function as their Internet liaison, scoffing at my predictions that things like CDs and record stores would cease to exist and radio play would become irrelevant. Anyone who cites Napster as the official beginning of the fall of the record industry still has their head in the sand.
These days I’m living my dream, finally singing my own songs for the first time since my one and only Epic album, Childstar, in 1974, integrating the songs with my art, videos and online worlds. My first video, It’s A Woman Thang, has close to 1,000,000 views with no promotion at all and was a winner in the Viral category of the 2008 Webbies. The second one was featured on YouTube and won four W3 awards. The latest, Hey Jerrie, featuring me and a 91 year old female drummer on an oxygen tank, was the twelfth most popular video in the world on YouTube within 48 hours of its release a few months ago. These days, a least if I get screwed I’m screwing myself, which is ultimately more satisfying as I can always get a meeting with the person doing the screwing. I’ve been toying with business models on the web for eighteen years. I may not be rich from it yet but I’m rich as an artist with a larger and larger loyal following which, ultimately, is the greatest reward of all.
Reinvention was always easier for me than letting my personality and pride be clubbed out of me like a baby seal. I have a had a blessed life. I have watched myself go from battered songwriter grabbing at whatever crumbs were thrown my way to a strong, centered and fearless artist. I’m a better songwriter now than I ever was. I still have the same old bullshit befall me as a songwriter but I don’t stick around long enough to suffer. It’s been a long, concious battle but as Celie says in The Color Purple, “I’m Here”. Very much here. I thank the publishers and record industry for doing to us what Wall St. and the banking industry did for the American people – take such advantage and pay us so little regard that we’re stripped back to nothing, individuals who now have more chance than ever to do something spectacular on their own and change the world.
64,000 YouTube views and counting since the “Hey Jerrie” launch party a few nights ago at Ghettogloss that I should be blogging about right now instead of writing this.
If you follow this blog at all you know how I am. I know any decent blogger or social networkist posts photos and videos immediately. But for me, documentation of an event is an equal part of the art the event was thrown to celebrate. So before I can post anything I need to find the right place for said documentation in the organic ball of goo that is “Hey Jerrie” or any other piece where my music, art, video, animation, technology and a party converge into the octopus-like formation known as “my art”.
I can deal with the photos, though writing captions makes me feel like a Roto Rooter is sucking my blood out. But I did manage to go through them and despite the fact that the shots are mostly posed so the craziest spontaneous moments, the ones that make the party ‘THE party’ are nonexistent, you may go here to see them. But make sure and come back.
Now going through party videos so I can get some stuff up online quick is another animal entirely. I’m conditioned to being terrorized by camera people who don’t capture any of what I’m experiencing and instead concentrate on such tight close ups I may as well be talking to myself at a party of one. If my wrinkles were what I wanted to see I could have just stayed home and looked in the mirror. Besides, transferring 16 hours of footage from three cameras and archiving it so it can be found in the glut of 42,000 terabytes known as my server demands I enter the proper brain space – blissful peace meets mob mentality – and I’m just not there yet. So instead, as process is the most interesting thing about creating art to me, I shall regale you with how it got to the point of “Hey Jerrie” being the 34th most viewed video in the world on YouTube just 36 hours after its release and, just as important to a kitsch freak like me, how it became “the most responded to video EVER” in Hong Kong.
(If you have no knowledge whatsoever about my rendezvous with Jerrie Thill, the 91 year old female drummer on an oxygen tank and primary star of “Hey Jerrie”, read my previous posts on her (of which this will appear first so scroll down). If you are familiar with HJ or if you’re too lazy to catch up on the posts, which I certainly would be if I were reading this, please continue.
When I first met Jerrie a few months ago I invited her over because I thought she’d enjoy my collection of Atomic 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s Kitsch, much of it music based from an era when she ruled the drum thrones of clubs in LA. But as our date drew near it dawned on me it would be stupid not to record her. It’s not like she could just run down the hill if I got a good idea for a song.
I had no interest in capturing Jerrie playing her standards like “When You’re Smiling” and “Route 66”. Anyone could do that. It had to be one of my songs for me to truly be interested in doing anything with it. “Neutron Dance”, whose bass line was a calculated 50’s jazzbo rip, felt vaguely appropriate. But at the same time as my gut was telling me to write something original I was (foolishly) swamped with The Stallionaires. I also hadn’t written by myself in years so I just prayed the music muse would arrive sometime before Jerrie rang the bell.
Two days before she came over the melody hit me getting off the 101 at Highland. As is a nasty mental habit of mine, some of my simpler stuff, songs that ultimately catch on the quickest, seem dumb as I’m writing them. “Neutron Dance”, which I won a Grammy for as part of the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack, was definitely one of those. But now I was just looking for something sing-songy that would be easy for Jerrie to drum to. So I decided to commit to the melody stuck in my head long enough to write the lyric.
Although I’ve written both the music and lyrics for 90% of my songs my lot in life has been to be thought of as a lyricist, probably because I wrote with so many male groups like Earth Wind & Fire and the assumption is the female’s there for the lyric or perhaps it’s the fact that I don’t know how to actually read, write or play music. When it’s really flowing, music and lyrics arrive in my head in one tight package. The words “Hey Jerrie, put on a show” spilled out spontaneously with the melody. By the time I passed The Hollywood Bowl at the end of the freeway exit I had the entire first verse:
Hey Jerrie, put on a show./ You play them songs everybody knows./ Beat them skins and keep it in time./Ya make me loose like a bottle of wine when you beat!
Sing-songy, not going to win a Pulitzer prize but it had Jerrie’s zippy spirit written all over it.
The next couple of nights I wrote 36 different versions of verses, choruses and chants. I recorded the beat in my head by playing one drum at a time – I have no idea how someone plays different things with different hands let alone gets their feet synchronized – but even a pathetic little temp track would make it easier to sing the song down to Jerrie when she gets here. I constantly change the lyrics as I sing it down.
D-Day arrives. As soon as we hear the car pull up with Jerrie, Allison Freebairn-Smith who introduced us, and Carol Chaikin, Jerrie’s sax player, my longtime assistant Dina, who started out working my parties in the late 80’s, became my cleaning lady in the 90’s and graduated to chief assistant/ videographer/ keeper of the house in 2003, starts shooting. By this time it’s dawned on me I need to capture some decent stuff in case the song is actually any good and I might want to do a video. So I shoot Jerrie and Dina shoots both of us.
It’s then I realize I’m going to have to deal with the sound of the oxygen blasts that shoot into Jerrie’s nose every few seconds as they’ll be audible in the live recording. I can’t yank the tubes out for 3 minutes or we’ll lose the drummer. So I decide to time the song to the little puffs. I believe it’s the first time oxygen has been used as a percussion instrument and this makes me very excited.
Jerrie does the song in one take. The sound of her kick drum slays me. The weathered, muffled thud sound I had always lusted for.
So I end up with some dark cramped footage and a song that’s starting to sound like it could be something. Carol adds a few takes of sax and flute but the fact that I don’t play, despite hearing every note in my head, has me concerned about how I’m going to finish the record.
The next night I go to see a friend of mine’s 10 year old kid who’s playing Blues guitar at Genghis Cohen. I am definitely guilty of telling someone I’m really interested in hearing their kid play or sing when in truth I’d rather be having my toenails pulled out without anesthetic. All parents, at least the good ones, think their kids are tremendously gifted in their artistic pursuit. If I had the guts, I would tell them to save their money as the kid’s talent is usually hovering in the local telethon area. But this was someone who had recently started coming to my parties who I wanted to keep as a party guest so off I went on a Saturday night to see the 10 year old who I thought was going to put me to sleep.
Lo and behold, Milo Sussman was a mofo. Total Chicago Blues chops and attitude mixed with endearing naivite. By the second song all I could think was 91 year old, 10 year old and me plopped somewhere in the middle. As if 91 years old and an oxygen tank wasn’t enough, that’s a hook!
After the show the mom tells me her 6 year old is as good a drummer as Milo is guitar player. I book them both and they come over twice after school to lay down guitar and add to the toms and two fingered keyboards I’ve played on top of Jerrie’s track. I video every inch of this as well, still no idea how to make anything that looks like something other than a home movie of the sessions, of no interest to me whatsoever. And the kids footage is full of parents and bad lighting.
I’m tortured by the prospect of a dull video. I want people to know about this woman who’s been beating the skins since the Capones saw her play sax and drums in their clubs while her parents ran bootleg liquor for them. I decide to scan in all her dust-crusted photos. At least I know how to make those come alive. If something cute enough happens maybe that will be a starting point. I also decide to bring Jerrie back, clear everything out of my living room and roll around in an Aeron chair like it’s a dolly so I can get longer and brighter shots than the cramped-in-my-bedroom-home-studio footage I have thus far.
One of my favorite records of all time is Ramsey Lewis’ “The In Crowd”. Very loud partygoer crowd sounds surrounding that great piano playing and Maurice White’s record debut as an artist. I call up a bunch of my friends, some of whom can’t even carry a tune, and make them come over to clap and sing along. I forget to tell them I’ll be filming so the combination of no make-up, ugly clothes and, due to cramped studio conditions, footage of mostly shoes and backs of heads, makes the video aspects of “Hey Jerrie” seem even further away.
That’s when it hit me I had to throw a party. Which is where this whole blog started…
As I stated earlier, though I’m a natural writer I’m not a natural blogger. I mean I actually love to blog. But I hate to blog just as I hate to write when I’m blogging just to blog. So now I’m really into telling you the rest of the process of making “Hey Jerrie” and it taking off on YouTube the second it arrives there. But if I continue doing that now, with the video and party process still to go, you will be here the better part of your week. And the idea of having material for imminently future blogs is exhilerating to me. Maybe even a tweet or two!
So I’m calling it for the night and will pick up on the rest of it in my next posts. In the meantime, please enjoy the party photos. To make your experience more authentic the main meal items at the party were Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Pixie Sticks. So if you have any of those around you may want to start chewing now.
To be continued…
OK. I reallllly should be writing a detailed blog about the party I threw last Thurs. night here at Willis Wonderland to launch the new Bubbles & Cheesecake video, “Editing Is Cool”, and to debut my first official painting collaboration with Bubbles the artist, the Print Painting series, featuring canvas prints of five of Bubbles’ most popular images that I hand embellished with paint and vintage found objects. That sounds pretty ho hum, a party to promote something, but anyone who knows me knows I’m a hostess with mucho mostess and stiff is at the north pole of oppositeness of what went on here.
In order to do this party justice I need to go through 14 hours of video footage and this is not a job to do when you’ve slept for 21 hours total the previous week and your brain mass is still dripping through a strainer trying to get back to any semblance of normal. So I’m slogging through all of it as fast as I can but know if I drive myself nuts to finish in the timely fashion bloggers are wont to do I won’t enjoy any of it. So please know that the merriment of the “Launching Allee” party is forthcoming – you can look at a few photos from it in the meantime – and instead this blog is about how I took my own advise as offered in my brand new shiny video, “Editing Is Cool”, and got through the party without killing someone.
An example of “Editing Is Cool” philosophy at work: It’s 102+° in LA all day/all night last Thursday. You know you’re a sweating and potentially smelly party hostess and that all your guests are equally uncomfortable other than when they hug you and you accidentally spill your drink on them which coincidentally cools them off. Your choice of psychological mental states is either I’m a sweaty, smelly, sloppy party hostess or the funky jungle is alive with wild sweaty natives and I’m the effervescent jungle captain. I EDITED out pathetic choice #1 and opted for #2.
For months now my server has been going nuts. Files get corrupted and disappear, the network is so constipated it crawls like a turtle with corns. All in the midst of me getting ready for this party – finishing the video, redesigning my website, making speed movies of the 23 hours of video I took documenting every second of creating the 45 paintings in the Print Paintings series, designing and printing signs, order forms, name tags, artist’s statements, bios, size charts of all the paintings, cards to hand out and that’s not even a quarter of the list. I’m working off of eleven different external drives as the ones on the server choke. I’m overwriting files faster than I can create them I’m so confused trying to keep track of where everything is. My internet access is fluttering on and off and the backup DLS goes down.
And through it all I’m still trying to figure out how to conceptually tie together everything I’m presenting at the party so the theme is cohesive – 45 new paintings, the first ever I’ve done by printing the image on canvas and embellishing on top of that as well as the first time Bubbles and I have openly collaborated on paintings. Plus a new video that happens to not only be my most ambitious work but one that more than anything I’ve ever created embodies my personal philosophy on Life. I cannot say I remained cool throughout the neverending cascade of technical disabilities but I didn’t lose it like I would have in the old days. I EDITED out that part of my personality that is exceedingly skilled at maintaining misery so that at least a few moments of peace pop through.
Which is good because the night before the party a bridge breaks in my mouth and I can’t open it without feeling like razors are dragging across my gums. So less than seven hours before 300 people knock at my door I have oral surgery. The anesthesia from which leaves me hallucinating all day as I work outside in the blasting, scorching sun with 25+ people in various degrees of non-readyness tweaking everything I turn on, hang up or create on the spot.
Then at 2 pm. the impossible happens. Someone forgets to shut the water off and the pool overflows and FLOODS the backyard. And then the pump breaks. And then the back-up pump breaks. So mere hours before show time one crew is filling up buckets while others stomp on every clean towel I have trying to soak up the water that’s saturated the grass as mud wrestling is not on the party agenda. It takes every ounce of mental strength to not go completely psychotic as all my red button panic issues have been fully engaged – medical emergencies, technical failures, flooding. But I remember that EDITING IS COOL so I take a deep breath and decide to move on to something easy like hanging paintings.
3 pm. One side of the yard is finally in shade so we bring half of the paintings out and start to hang them on palm trees all over the yard. But it is SO hot that all the objects I’ve glued on to them start sliding off. So we climb back up the palms, take them down and store them back inside. Which then makes it impossible to clean any of the rooms they’re stacked up in. I re-glue everything and keep repeating the mantra, “EDITING IS COOL”.
The heat continues to pound even as the sun goes down so we wait until the last possible minute to re-hang all 45 paintings. Less than half are up before the first guests arrive. This kind of stuff makes me CRAZY. I’m an efficiency freak and have been planning this schedule for months. How could this be happening?! But I know my options are complete hysteria = horrible party hostess or just hang on for dear life, plug whatever holes in the dyke you can and keep smiling. I EDIT out option #1.
But that’s when the real challenge begins. Starting four days before the party the air conditioning in the submarine where the servers are shuts off every 20 minutes turning the room into an instant inferno. Every millifiber of information re my life and career is on those servers. Fire is no good. Only two years old, this piece of shit Soleus unit was installed by a company that knew it was “overly sensitive” and constantly shut off but never told me or offered to do anything about it other than try and sell me a new unit when I finally confronted them. Oh, wait…. Bubbles is insisting I tell you that if Nicholas Aire Systems of Santa Clarita, CA. knocks don’t answer the door.
So the ac is going down every 20 minutes. That means 48 times a day multiplied by four days so please picture this process 192 times as you continue to read and remember to multiply that exponentially for how many times since then it’s happened until today when a new unit was finally installed by a new company for half the price. And don’t forget to factor in that I haven’t gotten more than 15 minutes of sequential sleep for 11 days now as I have to reset the Soleus shit box to keep it going for another 20. One hour before the party I call Nicholas of Nicholas Aire and say to him, “You know what’s involved in turning this unit back on and know I have to do it every 20 minutes and you’re telling me this is what I have to do while the I’m hosting a party that’s introducing some of the most important work I’ve ever done in my career?!” He says, “yes”.
So here’s the drill: First I have to pull out two racks of equipment that each weigh over 1000 lbs. in order to get a clear shot at the sensor button on the Soleus with the remote. After five or or six body bending tries – the room is only four feet wide – the hot air spitting unit shuts off. Then I have to carry a 25 foot ladder to the front of the house, CLIMB UP ON THE ROOF, pull this scary looking electrical thing out of this scary looking black box, hang out on the roof in the blasting sun or dewy moon for 5 minutes before thrusting it back in, climb back down (more scary than going up), return the 25 foot ladder to the backyard so as not to provide incentive for anyone wishing to break into the house, race back inside and down the stairs, body bend again to turn the unit back on and wait in the inferno for 5 minutes to see if cold air actually kicks in. Then I have 15 minutes until it all begins again.
It’s ten minutes until the party starts. This Nicholas guy has made me miserable for months, ever since I found out he knew he installed a unit that wasn’t fit for the job it was supposed to do. When “the best he can do” is send someone out in the morning and I’m stuck hiring a party guest to sit at the side of my house and race up on the roof every 20 minutes I tell him where to stick it and feel completely liberated. Now I’m in a great mood because I’ve EDITED the Nicholas out of my life!
Jerks must be EDITED from your life. Calamity must be EDITED from your life. It gets easier every time you make a cut. Exercise your power and EDIT your life. Because EDITING IS COOL.
Here’s why I have been so blog poor over the last few months, my little 9 month labor of love, my life philosophy rolled into one bouncing bundle of sound, sight and spirit:
Allee Willis Presents Bubbles & Cheesecake “Editing Is Cool”
I do a lot of different things. I never knew what to call myself. Composer/ songwriter/ lyricist/ musician except I don’t know how to play/ artist/ interactive artist/ writer/ director/ producer/ party captain/ social planner/ technologist/ collector. By most standards totally different hats. By my standards the road to being a totally integrated, self realized individual. By entertainment industry standards a liability until the Internet finally pounded into their thick heads that someone who was self sufficient and capable in more areas than the one they signed a contract in was an attractive pet to have in the stable. With two notable exceptions my music publishers never got why I had the urge to paint, the art gallery owners viewed me as a songwriter who sometimes paints and very few of them ever got that my real artform was the Party, where all my pursuits sloshed together in one interactive swirl of social interaction and finely honed environment.
But now, 17 years after I jumped onto at that time the slow chugging train known as the Internet, the day has finally arrived where you can be whatever you want to be, with as many different talents and interests smashed together as you can manage. You can emerge as a revolutionary force if you just have the balls to offer something different. The tools, information and distribution channels are all there and the former keepers of the castle no longer hold the keys.
1992. I told you so:
So, the big realiziation is that it’s not the song, it’s not the painting, it’s not the new wall color, it’s YOU who’s the artform. Your hair, clothes, front yard, job, relationship, house, car, friends – they’re all physical manifestations of you. Your life in cyberspace, be it an accurate reflection and extension of your real self or a complete fabrication, is you splatted out on a vast neverending canvas of infinite time and space. You can exist as a little pea in a great big vast black hole or you can fill it with color, shapes, spirit and new friends and push yourself to places you could never dream of going when held to the confines of physical space and laws of the former universe and gatekeepers.
So be bold with the new extended YOU. Only decorate and inspire it with what makes you feel passionate about yourSELF. On physical and virtual planes alike cut out the crap that weighs you down, makes you feel bad, guilty, ugly, fat, jealous, angry and otherwise depressed. You may think that every decision you make is about the thing you’re making the decision about. But it’s always about you – how much you think you deserve, how worthy a person you think you are, what you think your potential is. I’ve always been good about cutting off from dysfunctional collaborators, not taking jobs for money but for the creative high or freedom they will bring. I flip careers like cooks do pancakes. But it’s never been to actually change what I’m doing but rather to evolve into whatever I think I want to be.
The entertainment industry is self destructing from arrogance and greed. They thought the Internet was a place for dorks. They thought no one but highly paid creatives, lawyers and businessmen could create content fit for mass consumption. They missed what the whole revolution was about – empowering individuals with the ability to express themselves. And what spilled out naturally and honestly – cats playing piano, homemade music videos of songs recorded by any means necessary, exploding vegetables, whatever – inflamed the imagination of the worldwide public more than any scripted by committee property ever could.
So, be yourSELF. You’re the canvas. Paint like a motherfucker. Now’s the time.