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Failure Is Important
By Mick Polich - 04/17/2012 - 01:56 PM EDT

Failure is important – in fact, it’s imperative. Why? Why would I start any article,especially on a website where we’re dealing with ways on how to be a success in the music business – write great songs, present our ‘product’ all shiny and nice for consumption of the mind and body? Two things triggered this article: I’m on the tail end of finishing a book called “Shopcraft As Soulcraft” by Matthew Crawford. Crawford spent years in the electrical wiring and motorcycle repair trades,then going into political analysis for a Washington,D.C. think-tank,then back to repairing motorcycles. Mr. Crawford makes the argument that folks are losing the ability for skilled labor and craft, given the propensity and thrust of modern technology. The interesting parts of the book are when Crawford describes his early mechanic repair failures – learning a lot,then picking himself right back up, and heading to the next project. I can relate after nearly 35 years working on music gear – the wolf is always at the door to challenge you,and like the game of golf, you’re really playing against yourself to figure out the problem. Thing is,if we’re growing in life,failure is always an option – in fact,expect it. The other motive for this article is a DVD on the films of Clint Eastwood called ”The Eastwood Factor”. The doc takes us thru Clint’s early years – bit parts in movies, then success on the small screen as Rowdy Yates on the t.v. show “Rawhide”(yes, I’m old enough to remember watching it as a kid). My appreciation for Clint has been a slow build – finding out he loved jazz,wrote the main themes to a lot of his films,the scope of material in his later years as a director. In fact, I’ll take a lot of Clint’s misses as a film maker than a lot of other producer’s ‘hits’ – I think it’s the non-nonsense approach,very efficient outlook to film-making – when Clint hits the mark,he’s efficacious. Plus, he’s at a place in life where he doesn’t give a rat’s hiney ( which I really dig)about critics – he just keeps going, and knows something will stick at some point. These two men have documented failure in their craft, and they’re not too proud to hide it under the carpet. Admitting things didn’t work out, or something went wrong – well,it takes guts,because we’re such a sensitive bunch,us artists. Defensive posturing? Yeah, I’m guilty – just ask my wife and son. Sorry kids – I just keep working at it. Recently,I’ve have some job failures that knocked whatever chip I had on my shoulder off into the lake – at fifty-three, I’ve gained some confidence that was sorely lacking in my youth. Holy shee-ite – all those years to feel good about yourself,and then, whammo,some joker comes along and slaps you off your high horse…… As always, I’ll tie it into the ‘music thing’ soon. I had a ‘bucket list’ of perhaps getting back into two professions I toyed with early on – commercial art, and cooking. And with jobs, sometimes you don’t realize what the hell passes you by until it passes you by – gosh,Mom,you mean they use COMPUTERS more so in design than drawing pencils? Or I have to measure food inventory each day after helping to cook for 300 people? Blissfully ignorant,folks – blissfully ignorant. But hey,you don’t know if you can get the hit if you don’t step up to the plate,right? I saw a “Saturday Night Live” sketch where there was a talk show that celebrated Internet ‘celebrities’ as they reviled in their own mediocrity of exclaiming they could accomplish anything (because they have learned a little, and through ‘net self-promotion, thus become experts). So true, and funny as hell. And,I must say,I’ve jumped the gun a time or two myself – trying a new business move,or skill,before I realize the details in making sure I have all the bases covered. Call it insecurity,call it far too much confidence before jumping out of the plane,but it has happened to me, and I have paid,kidlets…. Failure is important – it teaches humility, and dang it, you should learn a lesson from it. People don’t want to be called out on failure – it’s one thing to violate the commandments, nature law, etc., but it’s another to create something that falls flat on its’ ass. I would rather see the attempt, rather than no attempt at all…… To conclude: I’ve been enjoying the new Bonnie Raitt CD,”Slipstream”. Bonnie is probably one of our greatest artists, as far as adult contemporary music goes. At one point in time, nobody wanted Bonnie, or her music – Bonnie lost her focus, Bonnie was too f-ed up on whatever,blah,blah. So what happens? She gets her poop together, and comes out with one of her biggest albums of her career back in the late 1980’s,and she’s been a music queen ever since. I still enjoy listening to her body of work, even through those searching years – you can tell she’s looking for something, like a synthesis of her sound – voice,guitar,band,interpretation of material. And I will attest – she’s put out one of the most musically satisfying albums of her career. Yep, failure - earn it, and learn from it!


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