The word used to literally make me throw up. I swam competitively in high school. Well, not that competitively. I could never stomach the pressure of having to win. I hated the way it made me feel and the way people seemed to think it normal and good and healthy that my self worth should hinge on wether or not I was "better" than the person next to me (I never was). But, I wanted to belong so, I suffered through the "competition" and not being "better than" made me feel worthless. Eventually, that worthlessness turned to frustration and anger and I began to see competitors as enemies.
That's where I still kind of was when I became a musician. Anyone who wasn't with me was against me and anyone who was doing what I wish I could do but couldn't deserved my complete contempt. It's why I hated Sheryl Crow. She covered Led Zeppelin's D'yer Mak'er and ruined it for me. That's what I WANTED TO DO!!!!!! :) Nevermind that she was famous and I was nobody. It sickened me.
There were other perceived "competitors" over the years but, I also started searching for truth, happiness and release from fears that had followed me all my life. Somewhere along the way I realized that music was a gift, songwriting was my refuge. My love for it was pure and the love that came through it was sacred. I didn't want ego to touch it. I began to avoid competition and anyone who sparked even the smallest competitive spirit within me. Anytime I was put into a competitive situation I tried to transform it, release the ego from it, let go of any need to feel "better than" or simply walk away. What songwriting means to me is too important to reduce it to sport...a crapshoot for your soul? No way.
Eventually, I began to seek out and surround myself with musicians who felt like I did, who did it for the pure joy or the absolute need to express something beautiful, wonderful, good and true, who channeled love. I found people I could learn from who would teach me how to do what I wanted to do better. Not better than anyone else. Better than I'd ever done it before. The best that I could according to my own sense of beauty and truth. No one else's.
Don't get me wrong. I love to feel accepted. I have great respect for audiences and love praise and acknowledgment. But, praise and acknowledgement are not sufficient reasons to do what I do in the way that I do it. They don't fuel the passion. And, I simply don't have it in me to try to win favor. Its exhausting. I don't see the point in trying to convince people I'm something that I'm not. I can't and won't manipulate an audience however big or small. What I am is what you get. I'm not any younger, smarter, better or more beautiful than the next person but, hopefully, I'm as authentic and real as I can be. I don't know how other people think but, when someone is real and authentic I find them to be more beautiful than beautiful, more sexy than sexy, more everything than anything. If I'm ever that then, cool.
Let me just make it clear to any other musician I've offended in my honest attempt to be not only a musician but, an artist trying to communicate as much truth and beauty as possible into this lovely but chaotic world:
You are never the barometer by which I judge
my own ability or worth.
You are you. I am me. If you were ever down I'd lift you up but I can't do anything for someone who needs to see me beneath them.
P.S. I love you Sheryl Crow