OK not quite, but it seemed like a good opening sentence for this blog that’s been rolling around my head ever since. He didn’t knock on the door or blow up my phone, but a conversation I’d had with him the night before was stuck in my head. First of all, not many people get to say they had a conversation with Garth Brooks (or Wonder Woman - I'll get to that later), so let’s just put how fucking cool that is on the table. It’s relevant to the point I hope to make in the writing of this and I promise I’ll come back around to it.
You know what’s really fucking hard? Self-promotion when you’re a sensitive creative type (SCT). Most of my close friends fall somewhere on the SCT spectrum. We feel the crap outta things and make art as a means to deal with said crap-ton of feels. We all believe in what we do and are proud of the work we’ve done. And at the same time, every single one of us wrestles with potentially crippling self-doubt at the same fucking time. Whee.
The inherent wiring that goes with being a SCT does not lend itself well toward bravado and self-promotion. It’s counterintuitive. We watch others in our field (and sometimes our friend group) and wonder “How can I be/do/get that? Am I a total loser because I don’t already be/do/have that?” We all think everyone else has their shit together while our shit is off at a bar with its phone turned off. Meanwhile, we still have shows and albums that ain’t gonna promote themselves. So, channeling our inner T-Swizzle, we shake it off, put on brave faces and take to our email newsletters/FB/Twitter/Instagram/that Snapchat thing the kids are doing. But overcoming our own self-doubt is only half the battle. There’s a flip side to that coin. Once we’ve managed to find enough confidence to put on our promotion pants, we start wondering “do these pants make me look like a braggy douchebag?”
Ever since Al Gore invented the internet, anyone can get their art into the world these days. This is both wonderful cuz we all have a shot and depressing/terrifying cuz holy shit there’s SO MUCH THINGS out there. How does one make themselves visible in that chaos? I’m far from any sort of expert when it comes to self-promotion, but what I keep learning over and over again is this: figure out who you are, what makes you you, what unique combination of things you bring to the party…and talk about that so that people who want that can find it. Right. Here goes: I’m a soul/jazz/rootsy singer-songwriter whose lyrics lean more conversational confession than poetry. I’m a pretty darn good keyboard player. I drink whiskey and say “fuck” a lot. I’m kind of a music theory nerd. And I can sing the ass off a song. * pats self on back for being willing to say that *
Those last two qualities also mean I have a parallel career as a singer for hire, and I’ve been able to work with some pretty awesome (and famous) people. (cue Lynda, Garth, etc...) I’m really proud of that, and anytime I talk publicly about it I pretty much say exactly what goes through my head, which is: “holy shit I just got to do the coolest thing!!” But as much as I think I’ve talked about it, I’m often surprised to hear people say “wow I had no idea you'd done all of that – that’s cool!” WAY cool, right? I agree! I think people like hearing about it when I get the chance to do that stuff. But then the fear of looking like a name-dropping jerk in those pants comes up again…. Not to mention the fear of looking like an opportunistic schmuck to the folks I’ve worked for or with… which brings me back to how Garth Brooks woke me up at 4 in the morning.
It’s pretty common practice for the background vocals to get added after an artist’s lead vocals are already done, with the producer overseeing things without the artist being present. (Translation: I’ve sung on lots of records for people I haven’t met. ) But Garth – in addition to being one the of the most down to earth, kind, cool, humble, lovely humans ever – is a very hands on guy when it comes to recording. (This goes for Lynda too, BTW.) He’s been at every session I’ve done for him. We’ve worked together enough times that he knows me. Amazeballs, right? Few sessions ago he said “hey did you get hitched yet?” Me: “yup! Put my record out too – love to give you one if that’s ok.” He said yes he’d love to hear it. Told him it was my epic breakup record, deliciously dark, whiskey music, etc. He said, “You know who’ll want to hear this before I even get a chance? Ms. Yearwood.” Inside voice: “ohholyjeezusyespleasedothatIlovehersomuch!!!” Outside voice: “Haha! Cool!”
Now it would be completely understandable if Garth graciously took my album and then never listened to it. But I did another session with him a week later and HE brought it up. “Hey, that record? Pretty cool. And you’re right – it’s dark as shit – love it!” Inside voice: “GARTH BROOKS JUST TOLD ME HE LIKES MY RECORD. I WIN AT LIFE.” Outside voice: “Haha! Told ya! Thank you so much!!” This second session was with a big choir, but he’d called in a few “ringers”, of which I was one. The choir folks were all “ermagherd there he is I can’t even look at him I’m freaking out” and Garth was all “hey girl hey tell your man I said hi” to me, so I'm feeling pretty cool. Then I have a coughing fit on the last take like a massive goober and they have to re-cut the ending. (Feeling slightly less cool now.) After we’re done, he thanks everyone for a job well done and offers to stay and do pictures for anyone who wants them. I opt to skip that since I have a few already – let these folks enjoy their moment. Besides, I have to finish another session at home before leaving for out of town shows the next morning and I still haven't packed. So I say bye, he hugs me and says “Bye! Love you!” and I leave. Pretty fucking stellar evening, right? Fast forward about 7 hours...
4:30 AM, my brain: “YOU IDIOT! YOU SHOULD HAVE TAKEN A PICTURE! Garth Brooks says he likes your record and that’s totally post-worthy and the kind of thing that people would share which is how things spread and more people could learn about you and your record and you know Facebook gives more weight to posts with pictures or videos in them and I know you were trying to be cool and not make it about you when it was his session but he OFFERED to do pictures and if you had half a brain you could have held up a copy of your record in the picture and had him thumbs up at it and he might have even done a little selfie video where he said something nice if you’d had the nads to ask and just think of how many people might have shared that and seen that if you’d done it and YOU’RE A HOPELESS FUCKING MORON.”
4:31 AM, me to brain: “WHOOOOOAAAA, pipe down, crazy town! If I give you some coffee, will you shut up?”
Like I said - it's super fun being "us" (sensitive creative type). I really don’t know what point I have here, I just know I had to get all that off my chest and (hopefully) out of my brain. I guess the next time you see a post from an SCT, just know there was probably plenty of thought that went into it, and some of that probably occurred at 4:30 in the morning. Or maybe I had to write this to make a point to myself. So here goes. Dear self: you’ve done some wikkid cool shit. It’s ok to talk about that. People might really enjoy hearing about it. They’re probably not near as worried about how you look in those pants as you think they are.
Share the good things, guys. There are more than enough bad ones these days.
***BONUS: Lynda Carter giving you off-the-cuff footage to help introduce your blog = equal parts epic and hilarious. Here's the rest. And yes, Lynda Carter sings!!! Thank you, LC, for being both a champion and beautiful human being. ;) xo
Are you an SCT too? Got a relatable story? I'd love to hear from you in the comment box below.