The “Big Club” (art, deprivation, depression & extra innings)

Bill Mallonee @ Studio El Corazon, New Mexico Fall 2016

Bill Mallonee @ Studio El Corazon, New Mexico Fall 2016

People ask me a lot:
“What’s it been like, being a songwriter, chasing songs and the “inner-self” and all. How do you get by?”

Here’s an answer I just sent a friend.
Make of it what you will. Absolutely discard if necessary.

“Yes, it is hard. Getting by? They call it scrapping.
But, it’s deeply rewarding as well. The trick, I believe, is to try and weave it all back into your heart, your art, your faith (everyone has some) and perspective…
But seriously?
Don’t expect any of the “rewards” to be the nomenclature of currency or filthy lucre.
No. It’s far better & deeper &n more lasting than that.

Me? I picked up a guitar at age 31 (30 years ago) and it wasn’t for any reason other than to try and say something real to myself.
I have never written a song (and I’ve probably written at least 1500) with any type of audience in mind.
That is the truth.

I keep the “motivations” the same now as they were then.
These days, as far as the “biz” goes?
There are no templates or secret formulas anymore…
Even the industry “shakers and movers” are mostly “tin-eared’ well-intentioned know nothings grasping at the “next big thing-flav-o-the-month.”

But, then there’s always the REAL art.
Writing good songs always has a market, I believe…
But, i’m less and less sure you can “market” such an art to a demographic.
Why, you ask?
Because we’re all in that “demographic.”
Because, if one scratch’s below the skin of one’s own life & spirit, they’ll find (I believe) that we’re all made of similar stuff. Same hurts. Same hopes. Same despairs. Same dark-side & betrayals. Angels & devils, side by side.
Neighbors in the same duplex.
And so the song that resonates honestly with one soul, potentially could resonate with millions…

I’ve banked on that for 75 albums. Never had the super structure to elevate it above whatever “flotsam & jetsam” is on the current hipster charts.
That’s probably the grace of God.

How to carry on?
Sure, it does take a certain “faith.” Or just reckless stupidity. Hard to discern ‘teen them sometimes, to be honest.
You need some faith in the notion that as a songwriter, “you’re on to something.”
And by that I mean, you just trust your gut, continue to “find your voice” and a way of saying it that others maybe aren’t doing.

In the end?
Well, you go broke, sell gear, feel sorry for yourself a minute, curse…
And then, for Christ’s sake, you get over your “self.”

And then get up the next day and write a new album…
You become a mystic and an excavator; You Learn new ways to unpack and nurture your own spirit and translate it into the nomenclature of a song…

S’all I know…What does any of that mean?
Poverty? Deprivation for an artist?
It’s a big club.
“You are not alone.”
Not now. Not through-out history…
Enjoy the ride.

Use poverty as a catalyst & conduit into a greater dependence on God for the real needs. And funnel it into beginning to create a volume of work. Make a world and world-view with your art that makes everyone a recipient of Grace, Mercy and requires compassion from yourself; Yes, even compassion extended to yourself.

Muriah & I have been out here in the deserts of Northern New Mexico for 6 years now and i think i’ve made something like 20-plus albums.
It’s “poverty with a view,” they say.
On most days? It’s a gift…one I’ll gladly take…
~ Bill Mallonee