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Keeping a Beginner's Mind
By Henri Ferguson - 01/23/2003 - 12:34 PM EST

Last article I talked about planting seeds, and as in that process we are filled with anticipation about “what will sprout up”. In this crazy music business the analogy is not too distant, and more often than not the process becomes the act of tending our respective gardens. With gardening we think that it’s as simple as sewing the seeds and watching what comes up, and with our limited knowledge, some things do, others don’t. The analogy becomes apparent rather quickly here. As in gardening, there are many factors and variables that determine which tune will fall on receptive ears and grow an audience. There are many historical instances (in the days of the old 45 rpm single) where the “B” side took off only to leave what was determined to be the “A” side in the proverbial dust. Although many of the big players with their sophisticated infrastructure and inside intelligence on the buzz in the music world can predict a hit from the outset, even they are often surprised at the sleeper hits that seemingly sprout from out of nowhere. We as Indie artists, new at gardening, are well advised to keep a beginner’s mind. Yes, we need to learn all we can about the soil we are seeding in and what will likely flourish there, but there is also an element of luck and variables we have no control or knowledge of. As a beginner, anything is possible as long as we believe in it and this process starts at the point where we decide to record specific songs.

When recording my CD I came to a point where we had 9 tunes “in the bag”, but I knew I wanted 10. I had decided which of the nine were airplay possibilities and just needed one more to fit in thematically. Barry Sherwood remembered a tune I had written long ago and suggested we consider putting that one on as the last tune. That particular tune was The Early Morning Red Eyed Blues. I played it for the guys and it was decided that this one would fit in nicely, and as it turned out was the easiest to record and took the least amount of time. This tune was to be a surprise for all of us. It became a top ten for seven weeks on FM in South Africa and as well got significant airplay on stations in Australia, Ireland and The Netherlands. And although this has not resulted in any kind of overnight success that would feed the musical illusions of grandeur, it was very gratifying and fulfilling given the small budget and scope this project had. There is a world of difference between being hopefully optimistic, and being incredibly naïve, but somewhere in that vastness dwells a beginner’s mind that believes anything is possible. If we can conceive it, and we can believe it then we can achieve it.

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