So Different, So Similar
I have been in business for sixty years, and although lots of people think that the business I'm in is not really a business all, but rather a frivolous undertaking populated by those who never really grow up, but bounce around the world walking on stages, showing off their wares, picking up a check and moving on to another place with bright lights and extravagant amenities to do it again.
I can assure those of that persuasion, that opinion is something like 180º from the truth, and the tip of a gargantuan iceberg, as it were.
When I was younger, people would say things like, "If I could play a fiddle like that, I'd never work another day in my life".
And I will readily admit that I thank Almighty God that I can make a living doing exactly what I want to do, with a bunch of talented people I enjoy doing it with, and it is definitely not drudgery. My time in front of an audience presents a challenge I am happy and blessed to accept every time I walk on stage.
So, let's just say that I'm happy... no, ecstatic, in my chosen profession.
But to say it is not a business or that those of us who have achieved some success at it are lucky, or that people in the entertainment industry sail along, just hitting the high spots, tornadoes, dipping down just long enough to do another show and then go along their glorious way, carefree and without a worry in the world is a total fallacy, perpetuated by those who have not a clue what happens between the brief times spent in the spotlights. But in actuality, if we do our jobs right, it's all you're supposed to see, our problems are not included in the ticket price.
First of all, there is no other business that I know of, with the possible exception of professional sports, that is as competitive, mercenary and quick to condemn as the music/entertainment business.
You're only as good as your last show, your last record, your last interview, and things can change with mind-boggling speed, both for the good and for the bad. A record you thought was on its way can suddenly start falling off the charts, or the opposite can happen and your record can suddenly take off.
Constantly changing public tastes, the availability or non-availability of radio airplay on any given record is a release-to-release roller coaster ride and unless you're the Beatles or Michael Jackson caliber of artist, you never really know what's going to happen with your next record.
Then there is the matter of the unrelenting payroll every two weeks, heavy vehicles with heavy repair and maintenance bills to cover, getting to where you're contracted to be despite weather, breakdown, hell or high water, cause if you don't show up you don't get paid.
You work while everybody else plays, and travel while everybody else sleeps, no subsidies or government programs to help you over the rough spots, just what you're worth on the open market, a most mercenary place that can chew you up and spit you out.
Then there's the competition, unrelenting, high caliber competition, that renews itself perennially, with a new crop of talented kids that are dying to be where you are, to do what you're doing and will do everything in their power to get there, and if they have to step over you to do it, they'll wave on their way by.
So, you'd best be at the top of your game all the time, on stage, in the recording studio, writing new songs, adding new material to the show, or just meeting people, who may remember you if you're nice, but will for sure remember you if you're not.
So, you see, my business is not so different from the company which has to constantly add new products, improve on old ones, meet the competition and maintain good public relations.
And for every business, the bottom line is what you constantly deliver to your customers, the quality, the consistency and the compassion and energy it's presented with, year in, year out.
If you're out late at night and you see a tour bus headed down the road to the next show and think, how lucky those guys are, remember, the glamour fades with the spotlight and the real world begins, a world with expenses, loneliness, competition and, more than likely, that bunch of lucky guys on that bus are dog tired and have 700 miles to go, before it starts all over again.
But I'll bet, if you took a survey, like me, they wouldn't trade places with anybody in the world.
What do you think?
Pray for our troops, our police and the peace of Jerusalem.
God Bless America
— Charlie Daniels
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