Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Pam Mark Hall's Top 100 List of "MORE and LESS"

  1. More do - Less talk
  2. More God - Less religion
  3. More faith - Less* guns
  4. More polar bears - Less* pole dancers
  5. More imagination - Less* pants on the ground
  6. More wise kids - Less* widgets
  7. More recycling - Less* landfills
  8. More love-making - Less sex
  9. More sensuality - Less pornography
  10. More negotiating - Less fighting
  11. More loyalty - Less cheating
  12. More tail wagging - Less barking
  13. More determination - Less whining
  14. More walking - Less driving
  15. More gratitude - Less complaining
  16. More contentment - Less anxiety
  17. More flowing - Less flinching
  18. More confidence - Less fear
  19. More sharing - Less hoarding
  20. More believing - Less doubting
  21. More nurturing - Less destructing
  22. More effective - Less perfectionism
  23. More singing - Less sulking
  24. More generous - Less greedy
  25. More deliberate - Less impulsive
  26. More contained - Less compulsive
  27. More other-directed - Less self-conscious
  28. More requesting - Less demanding
  29. More relaxed - Less tense
  30. More journalistic integrity - Less scandalous sensationalism
  31. More compliments - Less slander
  32. More satisfaction - Less craving
  33. More humility - Less arrogance
  34. More learning - Less ignorance
  35. More garlic - Less salt
  36. More natural - Less synthetic
  37. More amused - Less cynical
  38. More adoption - Less* orphans
  39. More logic - Less paranoia
  40. More inclusion - Less exclusion
  41. More magnetized - Less polarized
  42. More beautiful - Less profane
  43. More hand-holding - Less nit-picking
  44. More back-rubs - Less headaches
  45. More peaceful - Less vociferous
  46. More fairness - Less exploitation
  47. More manners - Less rudeness
  48. More kindness - Less cruelty
  49. More value - Less hassle
  50. More giving - Less taking
  51. More negotiable - Less hostile
  52. More assertive - Less aggressive
  53. More deliberate - Less tentative
  54. More hope - Less despair 
  55. More in-bulk - Less packaging
  56. More solutions - Less politics
  57. More unique - Less* copy-cats
  58. More sexual-responsibility - Less sexual-repression
  59. More empowering - Less power-mongering
  60. More curiosity - Less* assumptions
  61. More integrity - Less scandal
  62. More shared-abundance - Less need
  63. More grace - Less shame
  64. More compassion - Less blame
  65. More role-modeling - Less preaching
  66. More mercy - Less condemnation
  67. More simplicity - Less chaos
  68. More space - Less clutter More focus - Less scattered
  69. More lean - Less fat
  70. More tone - Less flab
  71. More praise - Less criticism
  72. More creative - Less excuses
  73. More authenticity - Less posing
  74. More experimentation - Less derivation
  75. More substance - Less hype
  76. More charity - Less condescension
  77. More hummingbirds - Less* crows
  78. More butterflies - Less* rats 
  79. More corporate environmental accountability - Less* oil-spills
  80. More common sense - Less stupidity
  81. More homemaking - Less neglect
  82. More stir-fried - Less deep-fried
  83. More negotiating - Less fighting
  84. More Main Street - Less Wall Street
  85. More sustainable - Less disposable
  86. More prudence - Less risk
  87. More reliable - Less flaky
  88. More modesty - Less exhibitionism
  89. More creative community - Less cult of personality
  90. More social concern - Less social media
  91. More eye-sparkle - Less bling
  92. More bike-paths - Less pollution
  93. More urban town-centers - Less fossil fuel consumption
  94. More coal-mine regulations - Less* coal-mine tragedies
  95. More reaching out to others - Less* lonely people
  96. More prioritized city budgets - Less* pot-holes
  97. More financial intelligence - Less debt
  98. More patriotism - Less nationalism
  99. More little-guy/gal general stores - Less WalMart
  100. More affordable health care - Less hospital bill-initialized financial ruin
  101. More general practice physicians - Less* cosmetic surgeons
  102. More American made exports - Less* job losses
  103. More research for cures - Less disease re: Alzheimer's, Cancer, Huntington's Korea, Multiple Sclerosis - et al
  104. More real music - Less Lady Gag Me
  105. More Mashable - Less wasted time lost meandering on the world wide web.

*I know, I know. The correct word in this case is not "Less," but "Fewer."

Please add your own More and Less.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

"Quilted Icon"

Seth Godin's business blog post, "I Quilt", reminds me of my grandmother, Cora Bess Campbell, and the patchwork quilts she made for all her grandchildren.

The youngest of twelve, born and raised on an Arkansas farm, Cora Bess Yingst (age 16) married LeRoy Campbell (age 19) shortly before they hopped a train to California. Roaming like gypsies, picking crops with migrant workers up and down the West Coast, they fished, camped and made life-long friends along the way.

They settled in San Bernardino, California. Nightly, he used Lava soap and a brush to scrub the auto-shop grease from off his hands and under his fingernails. Even before he'd spent a chunk of his weekly pay at the bar, it was hardly enough to feed, cloth and house a family of five. Cora Bess chose to rise to the creative challenge of turning scraps into things of beauty, form and function.

Grandma Bess, a meticulous seamstress, made my large, colorful quilt out of little scraps of material left over from the perfectly-fashioned cotton dresses she'd made for me from flour sacks. I'd sit on the floor next to her, cutting fascinating buttons from old clothes I'd never seen, and add them to the glass jar of her enormous collection. I'd sort and stack various sizes of empty wood thread spools while her fingers expertly guided the flowered fabric under the bobbing needle of her foot-powered shiny, black Singer sewing machine. I was enthralled by her talents. I can still conjure up the aroma of pinto beans, cornbread and greens cooking while she taught me how to take remnants of seemingly worthless material, and come up with a creative, beautiful and functional design.

Seth's, "I Quilt", helped me view circumstances and/or relationships like precious scraps of unique materials with the potential of special uses and re-uses. Cora Bess's gift to me is now a "Quilted Icon" - symbolic of my perpetual option to create beauty with whatever, as little or as much, is at hand. Like scraps of varying weights, textures, weaves and sources of materials are sometimes difficult to stitch together; so, too, are some jobs, people, and circumstances. I'm grateful for the compatible remnants with which I've been able to design, handle and stitch a life together. I want to make the most of what I've been given - and I'm remembering how to do that by visualizing my grandmother creating my very own "Quilted Icon".

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sex Appeal for the Cause

Mary Travers gave “If I Had a Hammer” sex appeal with her silky, swanky, swinging blond hair – those amazing Cleopatra eyes; and that expressive mouth and gravelly voice. It seems to me that her sex appeal helped deliver the “Peace and Equality” message of my generation. Sex appeal helped the movement to magnetize and reach critical mass.

Peter, Paul and Mary, JFK, Bobby, Martin Luther King, Dylan, Baez even Mother Theresa and Ghandhi had it! So what is my definition of sex appeal? Sex appeal is not about the appealing for acts of sex. Sex appeal is that God-given mysterious transmuted powerful energy-source that once harnessed to visions and goals, can help accomplish great things.



Like Mary Travers, I want to use all I am and have been given for the benefit of my circle of influence - however large or small that is.

Carpe Manana - Again

I pray for the visitation of my childhood dreams - those I incoherently long for in my exhausted-adult sleep-state. I want them back! The ones that woke me up early - excited to play my guitar before breakfast. The ones that gave me energy to walk several miles home from school, eat a quick snack so I could sing and play for hours at my beloved piano - the huge old upright given to me by Maida Mark, my grandmother.

Are those dreams still hovering there in the ether? The ones that kept me believing that someday I would write and record songs that would be played on the radio? Those dreams came and inspired me to give myself to the discipline of the doing, the reaching, the persevering, the believing and I did it! I wrote the songs, recorded them, and heard them on the radio!

I did all of that before I was twenty-four years old. If I did that then, I should be able to do all of that and more, now, as a middle-age woman. Have life's experiences worn me so far down that I don't dream anymore? Is it simply about energy? Do I have a certain number of bars on the battery and that's it?

I once fully believed it was possible to do what was revealed to me in the night. What changed? Are my dreams and visions now dulled, blurred by the need to grasp at security? Helen Keller once profoundly stated that security is an illusion.

I need my dreams on perpetual-recycle to keep reminding me that I can still, at any age, live the life I was conceived and born to live. Carpe Manana

Pax,
Pam Mark hall

Monday, January 25, 2010

"Get Back"

Forty-one years ago this week, the Beatles played their famous last concert on the roof of their London headquarters.

The Beatles were a mess in that January of 1969. The recording of an album tentatively titled 'Get Back' was meant to be a 'back to the basics' return to their roots, but personal problems between the Beatles escalated and culminated in George Harrison's walking out on the band.

After letting feelings calm down a bit, they got together again towards the end of the month at their company's headquarters, Apple Corps, at 3 Saville Row, London.

On the afternoon of January 30th, 1969, the Beatles walked out onto their roof and into history with a 42-minute gig that brought central London to a standstill.

With Billy Preston joining on keyboards, the Beatles played a great concert that re-energized them and got them through the rest of the year. Featuring now-classic songs such as "Get Back" and "Don't Let Me Down", the videos are a wonderful look at the last live performance of the 20th century's greatest music phenomenon.



The experience is instructive.

Like the Beatles did, when your life (be it job, music, relationships) is stuck in recrimination, emotional turmoil, and stale, unproductive patterns, change your environment. Get out of your den, go for a run, shake your head in the breeze, grow a groovy beard like Paul, and change your routine. It will give you a fresh perspective and a new outlook on things.

Oh, and be sure to be as polite as the always-sly John Lennon when he addressed the audience at the end, saying, "I'd like to say 'Thank you' on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition." (this is a revised email message from Mark Cenedella, CEO of Ladders.com)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pam Mark Hall's Summary of "Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity" by Hugh MacLeod

Pam Mark Hall's Summary of "Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity" by Hugh MacLeod

I bought "Ignore Everybody"  by Hugh MacLeod the very day it was recommended by Derek Sivers on his blog.  Here's my summary of creative and marketing advice I found applicable to a musical career.

1.  Ignore Everybody.      
Pam Mark Hall said...Hugh's basic premise is that you really don't know if your idea is any good the moment it's created.  Nobody else does either, so keep it hush-hush til you've let it rattle around inside you a while, and you've tweaked and developed it some.  He also says "the more original your idea is,  the less good advice other people will be able to give you." Because "great ideas alter the power balance in relationships.  That's why great ideas are initially resisted."

This advice really applies to both the creative process itself, i.e. writing the song, rehearsing the song, recording the song, as well as to the marketing of the recording of the song or the act.  It gives another take on what Julia Cameron preaches in "The Artist's Way" about drawing a circle around your self and work, and keeping your energy inside that circle, focused entirely on the work.   Protecting it from well-meaning friends, family or business associates.  One raised eyebrow, one lukewarm remark can potentially derail fresh but vulnerable confidence.

Linda B. said..."For me, the key with creative ventures now, given the different dynamic and the direct-to-fan instant access that people expect, is to let people know we are working on stuff, but limit the access to what we are working on while it's in process to those who we trust to be the voice of reason / our toughest critics / greatest fans who really understand what we are capable of."
 Christina Duane said...
"Seasoning a song with time and objectivity is something that does take discipline which is really hard for someone like me, who has to open up the gift with purchase and start trying everything before I even make it home. A song is the ultimate gift that beckons to be opened and shared."


2. The idea doesn't have to be big, it just has to be yours.
Pam Mark Hall said...This is the one that got most response from my readers.   Musicians scrutinize the concept of "ownership"and originality.
Grandma Mary said...
"Love this post because it's such a struggle when you are creating something. 'It's been done' sounds off in your mind (that's the voice I try and ignore) But there is a you-ness that we bring to every idea. That's where we have to shine - in that you-ness. "
Elizabeth Cunningham said... "How do we get into that zone? Probably has a lot to do with key one: ignore everyone, including our own internalized censor. I think artists learn to become excellent trackers, following the energy of a work like a scent. You learn to recognize when it's hot or cold. You learn to trust yourself in the process and while you are in it, to care about nothing else."  Elizabeth Cunningham www.passionofmarymagdalen.com
Rick Conklin said...
"Anything you create bears your Mark (pun intended Pam). Complete originals (if such things exist) have no context and are abstract. Only the artist knows if they have been successful, others may or may not understand... sometimes not even the artist understands. The acts of exploration and expression establish an artist. Popularity and acceptance are entirely separate matters."
Steve Bell said...
"As you say, what is left to be original? However, when you think of original works of others, are they not \ have they not worked with existing elements? But in my mind I see the "yours" as personal not necessarily original. You do exercise a sovereignty of sorts in that it comes from you and all the varied influences that make this idea, melody, visual come out of you. The resonance this may strike with others may be from shared humanity or a sense of your skin in the game (I can't help but love the risk I see others subject themselves to... I'm a coward.) What I find fascinating is the personal interpretations that may be wide of the artists original intent or spark but may seem as valid to the observing participant."
Dani Hoy said...
"Certainly creativity doesn't exist in a vacuum. Otherwise what do you call inspiration? I see an image, hear a sound, wonder what if, and then I am lead by my imagination. There is a spark and then you build on it to create your own fire to draw others to warm themselves."
Pam Mark Hall said...
Yes, it is the inner critic, the "self-censor" that is the toughest battle. When I am able to give myself total freedom to say it wrong, to play it wrong, that is usually when "it" shows up in all it's glory and I both lose and find myself in "it".

Pam Mark Hall said... Ah - ha! So, maybe he wants us to think of sovereignty or ownership as the governing of self in the creative process,  rather than the governing of  “it” i.e.  the creation.  It is when I am totally invested in the process that I have the freedom to apply my passionate and creative energy to the idea, work, song, or dance.  As I am consumed by it and give my self freely to "it" - "it" becomes something new or “mine.”   That is the freedom that Hugh talks about.  It is when I get into that zone, things begin to happen.   Other people click with "it" and my little song begins to snowball, because it is then that I just might inspire others to do their own creative work.

Don't worry about what's the hippest, newest latest - do your own thing. Commit to yourself, because being authentically you is the most powerful, attractive thing you can do.

"The position of the artist is humble.  He is essentially a channel." ~ Piet Mondrian

3.  Put the hours in.
Pam Mark Hall said... On Christmas morning when I was six, I was seriously surprised when I opened my "big gift" and discovered that gorgeous red and white record player.   Then I opened my 45's of "Tammy" by Debbie Reynolds, "How Much is that Doggie in the Window," and a 33 LP of children's songs including "I Went to the Animal Fair."  I was ecstatic!  I was totally hooked.   I spent hours and hours playing those records and singing them over and over again.   I had absolutely no idea anyone was paying attention to me, I was totally absorbed in the joy of participating in the performance of the song.  I spent most of my childhood hopping off the school bus, running home, getting a snack and then playing my records, or playing the piano by ear and picking out tunes I knew, which led to my composing my own songs. I was totally enveloped in my own world with the music.   Now, as an adult, I find I have to give myself permission to go there.   Shouldn't you be "doing" something? Like cleaning the house, raking the yard, making business phone calls, Twittering?   Shut those voices up, and go pick up your guitar, sit at the piano, begin playing something you know, it will lead to the next thing.  I can always find that sweet place and I will hear something new..   I just need to give it the time and show up.

Dani Hoy said...
"Often I've heard the cliche "Do what you love and the money will follow." I imagine this has worked for some. Maybe it should be "Do what you love over and over until it's amazing and the money will follow."


4.  Good Ideas Have Lonely Childhoods. "This is the price you pay, every time.  There is no way of avoiding it." 
Pam Mark Hall said...Basically the message continues to be - get down to it.  Do the work, don't parade it around before it's time. Protect your muse personally and professionally.  This also reminds me of Joni Mitchell's lyric in "A Case of You":  "I am a lonely painter, I live in a box of paints", that her seemingly glamorous life is at the expense of many lonely hours.
 Christina Duane said..."I love Hugh MacCleod's writing. Yes. There is a universal law, I am convinced that when we let the air into the vintage too soon, it is prevented from reaching it's full presentation. There is a part of me that wants to test this principle and share the enthusiasm of the idea because why should I have to be so self protecting and why would the project not succeed just because I want to share something so exciting? But every time the principle is tested. I learn the principle is non-negotiable."
Pam Mark Hall said...Yes, Christina, I agree that universal law refuses to bend to the superego's need for parental affirmation. Yes, yes, when the right time comes, there will be the reward of the deep satisfaction of having done the work - but the need to be affirmed at some stunted childhood development level must be acknowledged, comforted and quieted while we continue the work to completion.
darrell a. harris said...It's been years since I read Calvin Seerveld's "Directing Imperatives" for artists (in his "Rainbows for the Fallen World.") But it seems I remember him calling for creativity to be nourished in the context of a community of artists. He may have been suggesting a community that cuts across artistic disciplines. Can't recall. Where do you think the balance is?
Pam Mark Hall said..."Darrell, the concept of creativity being nourished in the context of artistic community is not addressed in MacLeod's book, and I agree it is important. Where's the balance?  I like what  Christina Duane said...in the post prior to yours: "Maybe this is because of the intimate communion we can have in exploring and developing our idea of ourselves in communion with our creator and inner circle of our creative partners and the effect that has on the work."

Pam Mark Hall said...Is the inner circle of creative partners one established through intuition? Trial and error? I have certainly been discovering a new sense of creative community via social media. Yet, the caution of being careful and deliberate about what to share is in place.   Musicians in particular need to be careful with whom they share their business ideas.  Sure we all would prefer to be rescued from the responsibilities that are included in the job-description of "artist."  We are sometimes lulled into the delusion that the details are being taken care of, and therefore fail to pay attention to important day to day details.


5.  If your business plan depends on some big shot discovering you, your plan will probably fail.
Pam Mark Hall said...  Oh sure, Hugh, I've thought if I could only meet so and so, then he'd/she'd recognize how amazing I am and help me get this or that deal and help me gain a broader audience.  Well, I've met big shots through the years, but more importantly it's all the little things I've done, and day-to-day relationships that have created the musical/artistic/community tapestry I now have.   It's been the sum of all these things that have created the trajectory of my career.  I sang and tap danced for school shows, performed in talent contests, beauty contests with talent segments,  traveled with a nationally musical touring group,  fronted rock bands,  sang the national anthem before baseball games,  sang on the sidewalk at Fisherman's Warf in San Francisco, started a coffee house through the YMCA and booked talent to perform there, including myself,  sang at anti-war demonstrations, sang at weddings, sang at churches, sang at youth camps, sang at conferences,  taught song-writing classes, worked with homeless songwriters, wrote a song for underprivileged teens to perform with them at a fundraiser for their music program and did many things that didn't seem to have anything to do with a musical career.

Success may partially be impacted by who you know, but it's not really the big shots, it's those in your circle of influence who are always there believing in you to take that next step, who loved you all the way from the first record player, through piano lessons, to the stage you had wings to fly.


6.  You are responsible for your own experience.
"No one can tell you if it is good or meaningful or worthwhile.   The more compelling the path, the more lonely it is."
Pam Mark Hall said...   I love Mississippi John Hurt's version of "You Got Walk That Lonesome Valley.      And I embrace my the responsibility for walkin that lonesome valley.  All of these keys are connected.   Bottom line, it is about listening within yourself for guidance.   It is about being authentic and absolutely loving what it is we are envisioning, birthing, and creating.   


7.  Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.
Pam Mark Hall said...  MacLeod says that "we hit puberty and they take our crayons away and replace it with Algebra, History and boring subjects.   He say that later down the road we may just hear that small wee voice saying ' I'd like my crayons back please.' "
Pam Mark Hall said...Picasso put it this way:  Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain artist once he grows up.   Some of us actually kept our box of crayons and continued drawing, or playing an instrument, or dancing, etc.   We were lucky that way.  However, when we got to college, and were facing adulthood and being self-supporting, we weren't given the tools to keep playing music and generate a livelihood.     So, at least in the 70's, we threw caution to the wind and followed our muse, whatever that may have been.   In my case, I was able to make a good living for fifteen years with my music, until circumstances redirected me.

8.  Keep your day job.
MacLeod says the creative person has two different kinds of jobs  1) the sexy creative kind "Sex" and the one that pays the bills  "Cash"  the job that He posits that this tense duality will never be transcended.
Pam Mark Hall said... Well, it can be a challenge when all you've ever done professionally is write songs, record songs and tour into your 30's and then, wham you got two kids and a mortgage.  There are plenty of music business degrees in colleges around the country.   But how many of them offer a "Sex" and "Cash" course to teach musicians how to make a living as well as music?   I do agree with his theory that in order to maintain personal creative freedom,  you must protect your muse by not requiring it to perform for the landlord.   You must have some other means of generating revenue.  As a musician, It's not out of the question that a person can harness their talent for both "Cash" and "Sex."  It's possible to musically generate revenue - say transcriptions, or playing covers as a regular at a local fancy restaurant. "Cash"  as well "Sex" - writing original music and recording it on your home studio.

9.  Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity.
Pam Mark Hall said...  Nice work if you can get it.   Or maybe the key is for musicians to have non-creative day jobs so they have their creativity reservoirs full when they get home, have a bite to eat and then get to creating.


10.  Everybody has their own Mount Everest to climb.
Pam Mark Hall said...Whatever it is, you've got to climb it.   You may not make it to the top,  but in the end you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you at least put on your boots and gear and made it to the snow line.
I may never sell a million CDs, but I can have the personal satisfaction of knowing I at least activated myself to dig deep and write some wonderful songs.   And that I activated myself and somehow got them recorded and distributed to people who wanted to hear them. And that I am continuing to learn new technology so I can record new songs myself.    And that I am making the effort to make that music available to the small group of people who have indicated my music brings them pleasure.
And I continue making these efforts in the face of physical, emotional and financial challenges.


11.    The more talented somebody is, the less they need props.
Pam Mark Hall said...  The latest and greatest Mac and applications,  or latest controller for the keyboard, or pedal board for the guitar, or fill in the blank.   These things can actually be detours away from the actual work of writing, practicing, singing, or picking up the phone to make a connection.

12.   Don't try to stand out from the crowd;  avoid crowds altogether.
Pam Mark Hall said...  This is excellent advice, especially for those of us who are regrouping for our second career in music.   Why try to compete with the half million 20 - 30 somethings for a market  you don't relate to and doesn't relate to you since you are a Boomer?

13.   If you accept the pain,  it can not hurt you.
Pam Mark Hall said...Hugh, you're getting pretty Zen on us.  The beginning of all suffering is desire.   So how does one motivate themselves to take action?   What do you love?  Take a step towards it,  but never cling to it.


14.  Never compare your inside with somebody else's outside.
Pam Mark Hall said...We never know what is really going on with anyone else.   What the price of their "success" may be costing them.

15.   Dying young is overrated.
Pam Mark Hall said...This is a no-brainer really.   We've watched way too many brilliant musicians waste their minds and health on drugs and alcohol. 

16.   The most important thing a creative person can do is to learn professionally where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do and what you are not.
Pam Mark Hall said...This is really true for all human beings.  In order to draw a line that separates what you will and will not do,  you have to spend time clarifying your values.   You've got to look inward and make some decisions about what is important to you and base your life's choices on those values, as Stephen Covey would recommend.    Winston Churchill once stated that an unexamined life is a life not worth living.


17.   The world is changing.
Pam Mark Hall said...This can be a frightening or exciting reality depending on whether or not an individual is open to learning and growing.   I know a person who used to be the VP of marketing and promotions at a major label.   He still refuses to use a computer or the internet.   His commitment to his own unique abilities is admirable, however, he is now not able to assist breaking artists as he once was.   

As Dylan once pronounced "please get out of the new road if you can't lend a hand, for the times they are a changing."


18.  Merit can be bought.  Passion can't.
Pam Mark Hall said...I'm not sure what the first part of this phrase means, but I do know what it means to have no passion for the work at hand.  And it feels like death. 

19.  Avoid the watercooler gang.
Pam Mark Hall said...In the music industry, the watercooler gang, is equivalent to the staff songwriters I often encounter at the post office or local pub.   They may have had a couple of number one hits, but all they have to talk about now is about how hard it is.  "Hey Joe, what are you up to these days?"  Joe - "Same ol, same ol.   Writing and more writing. Got a couple of songs on hold for X Super Star, just keeping my fingers crossed."  And year by year their spirits sink, and want to bring you down with them.   Why not create a new path?  

20.   Sing in your own voice.
Pam Mark Hall said...I recently took some very old tapes in to have baked and remastered and digitized.   I cringed when I hear myself at 16 years of age emulating Joan Baez,  then at 18 - Judy Collins,  then at 19 - Joni Mitchell.    By the time I was 23, when I recorded my first nationally distributed album, I'd also been influenced by so many others: the Beatles, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Beach Boys, the Kinks, the Animals and James Taylor - and I began to relax into my own voice.  Sure you can hear elements of all of the above,  but now I am told I have my very own identifiable sound.     It takes time to accrue influences, filter and incorporate into the timber, vibrations of your own vocal chords and attitude.

21.  The choice of media is irrelevant.
Pam Mark Hall said...The principles of being an unique artist are transferable.


22.  Selling out is harder than it looks.   Diluting your product to make it more "commercial" will just make people like it less.
Pam Mark Hall said...Once again, be authentically you!

23.  Nobody cares.   Do it for yourself.
Pam Mark Hall said...I have found this to be so true.   People are very busy trying to figure all the same things out.   "They" don't have time to be paying attention to you.  It is a mental discipline to block the mind from obsessing about what a certain party who might be influential in your career is thinking.   For years, I tied myself up in knots about this.    But I finally proved to myself that I could achieve what I am passionate about, and if it has a purpose beyond my own passing satisfaction.

24.  Worrying about "Commercial vs. Artistic" is a complete waste of time.
Pam Mark Hall said...Can you really name what makes one product commercial and what makes another artistic?   Over my 35 year career, the songs, recordings and projects that have been most successful, have been the ones that I just gave myself over to as a conduit for what was there.   Of course I did rewrites and tweaking.   But I did not try to manage the muse.   I listened and I transcribed.   Of course the inspiration came as a result of everything that I exposed myself to visually, music, books, and conversations


25. Don't worry about inspiration.   It comes eventually.
Pam Mark Hall said...As the author C.S. Lewis once wrote in "Surprised by Joy" -  I am surprised by inspiration.    It comes, but as indicated above, it usually comes as I am exercising some discipline or practicing, reading, walking, etc.


26.  You have to find your own shtick.
Pam Mark Hall said...We all know that there is nothing completely new under the sun,  there are unique ways to combine elements together that cause the light to reflect off the prism in just a slight different way and cause people to say..."That gal is one of a kind."    You probably remind them a little of U2 or Fleetwood Mac or Shawn Colvin or Elvis, and they are comfortable with that, but you also sound uniquely you.

27.  Write from the heart.
Pam Mark Hall said...In order to write from the heart, one must spend time in solitude and listen to it.


28.   The best way to get approval is not to need it.
Pam Mark Hall said...This is true in personal relationships and it is true in business and the arts.

29.   Power is never given.  Power is taken.
Pam Mark Hall said...I rather think that Power is neither given or taken, but rather evoked by self mastery, vision and confidence.

30.  Whatever choice you make, the Devil gets his due eventually.
Pam Mark Hall said...No matter what you chose to do,  you've got to pay some dues.  It's frustrating, it doesn't seem fair.   But it's a part of what is required.

31.  The hardest part of being creative is getting used to it.
Pam Mark Hall said...I guess that means embracing the scope of what is involved in being creative.   Being creative is a joy, and it is also a discipline.

32.  Remain frugal.
Pam Mark Hall said...The less stuff you buy, the less energy you have to spend on upkeep.  The less money you have to make to support your lifestyle, which leaves more psychic and physical resources to direct towards your music.

33.  Allow your work to age with you.
Pam Mark Hall said...And I must add - allow your age to work for you.   I am a Boomer and I am excited about my musical future.   I have lived a colorful life filled with amazing people and experiences.   My compost pile is rich and I have so much to draw on.   I am no longer intimidated by the fact that the industries of movies, television, records are targeted towards kids.    Census reports reveal over half the US population is over 50, and like me are hungry for books, movies, music and experiences that are relevant to them.   The internet has given us an alternative means to connect with the Boomer population.   Your work must reflect your true life experience, no matter what age!

34.  Being poor sucks.
Pam Mark Hall said...I've been there.  It does suck.   I've never worked harder than when I was poor.  Don't want to be there again.  Work smarter, so you don't have to continue to work hard the rest of your life.


35.  Beware of turning hobbies into jobs.
Pam Mark Hall said...Good advice to be cautious about turning a hobby into a job.  I do think it is possible to turn your hobby into a revenue stream, that it is possible to create a balance.


36.  Savor obscurity while it lasts.
Pam Mark Hall said...I like the word solitude substituted for obscurity, because it takes that alone time to think, to create, to plan and to execute the plan.   This all takes focused energy and time.

37.  Start blogging.
Pam Mark Hall said...I've only recently started blogging and I love it.   It is giving me a way to work out ideas, and share them with my friends and fans and a way for them to interact with those ideas.    I am confident songs will be born and relationships developed out of this process.

38.   Meaning scales, people don't.
Pam Mark Hall said...I had to search for the definition of the word "scales" to understand it's intent.   It is used in so many different ways.   My interpretation is that you can do something small with meaning to you like create a the ultimate collection of local butterflies,  or your could do something big with meaning to you like build a skyscraper, and big or small, as long as it is meaningful to you, it doesn't matter which you choose to do - you will experience equal satisfaction.

39.  When your dreams become reality,  they are no longer your dreams.
Pam Mark Hall said...Then, we've got to keep looking for new dreams.  Otherwise we stagnate.


40.  Non of this is rocket science.
So true.   Keep it simple.   Pay attention to what your gut is telling you first and foremost.   Don't blab Pam Mark Hall said...about things before those things are ready to be heard, done, seen, etc.  Be authentically you.

What are your thoughts?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Key Four of "Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity" by Hugh Macleod

Key Four:  "Good ideas have lonely childhoods.  This is the price you pay, every time.  There is no way of avoiding it."  ~ Hugh Macleod ~

One childhood summer at Y Camp, we repeatedly sang an old traditional spiritual around the camp fire, "Jesus Walked That Lonesome Valley."  As the embers glowed, I often got chills as we got to "You got to walk that lonesome valley - You got to walk it for yourself cause nobody else can walk it for you, you got to walk it by yourself." Here's Mississippi John Hurt's version of "You Got Walk That Lonesome Valley."

Basically the message continues to be - get down to it.  Do the work, don't parade it around before it's time. Protect your muse personally and professionally.  This also reminds me of Joni Mitchell's lyric in "A Case of You":  "I am a lonely painter, I live in a box of paints",  that her seemingly glamorous life is at the expense of many lonely hours.

Musicians in particular need to be careful with whom they share their business ideas.  We want to be rescued from the responsibilities that are included in the job-description of "artist."  We are sometimes lulled into the delusion that the details are being taken care of, and therefore fail to pay attention to important day to day details.
 
It's what you've learned in the dark, one day you may share in the light  - if you've truly done the work required.

Your thoughts on being a lonely artist?

Pam Mark Hall

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Key Three of "Ignore Everybody and 39 Others Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod

Key Three – Put the hours in.
“Doing anything worthwhile takes forever. Ninety percent of what separates successful people and failed people is time, effort, and stamina.”  ~ Hugh MacLeod

Oh, Hugh, we already know that.  It’s so simple.  If I want to  succeed, I’ve just got to do “it”!   So, then why is it so hard to maintain that day-to-day-to-day discipline?  Is that why you chose doodling on the back of business cards sitting at the bar?   Hey, come to think of it – isn’t that an image that comes to mind of writers – artists in Bohemia?  Sitting in front of their favorite brew in the cafĂ© or bistro?

Ok, back to the main point.  Hugh states that he is not concerned about anyone ripping off his idea of his doodling on business cards format, unless they can draw more of them, and better than him.   That what gives his work the edge is that he’s spent years drawing them – thousands of them – representing tens of thousands of man-hours.

I love his confidence about his work – that it is based on a commitment to the creative work itself over the long haul, not hype around a one-hit-wonder – well lit and airbrushed.    Just as you don’t know an artist by one painting, but rather from viewing an exhibit representing her entire body of work, it is also true that you don’t know a songwriter/artist/band based on hearing one song.

A body of work is accumulated over time.   And time means money.   I mean, you've got to eat.  So who’s going to pay the bills while you take the time to create this body of work?  Um…“you are.”   Hugh says, “Don’t quit your day job!”  Create the discipline of dedicating that one or two hours before and/or after the day gig to do your creative work. He says, that way, you won’t be in a frenzy trying to make your “art” generate revenue, because it takes the pressure off the creative process, having to chose between "artistic" or "commercial."  He says his method has allowed him to pace himself over the long haul.  Stamina is critical to making it happen.

I’ve done it every which way - music-only full-time, work part-time; music part-time, work full-time; music – what music?   I agree that the distribution of energy is critical to success.  Once I took on a full-time job to support myself while doing music on the side, I found the more successful I became in the day job, the more success I wanted.   As driven as I am to be productive and add value, I find it a challenge to hold back my best till the end of the day for myself and music.   At that point I just want to flop on the sofa with the remote.   It is difficult to be honest

I am now back to being fully focused on music, and I must admit that I am still wrestling with the balance.   Because all the elements of making a livelihood via music require wearing many hats.  Doing all of it, i.e. creating, recording, packaging, promoting, securing performances, tech, and many other details can be overwhelming.   It remains a challenge to keep the actual act of creating and rehearsing in balance with the rest of the functions that accompany being a professional musical artist.

I agree with Hugh, that success depends on a high degree of doing “it” over an extended period of time. I am many years and miles down the road and, happily, I have somehow been able to produce a body of work that still satisfies and inspires me to keep on creating.  Now, back to the concern I still have as a professional musician - how do I balance it all?  How do I generate revenue while maintaining artistic and personal health - mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically; and nurturing my personal relationships?   Musicians and artists of all disciplines have special vocational challenges.   It's my hope to discover some ideas to leverage in this book.

I'd love to know your thoughts!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Key Two of "Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity"

Key Two of "Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity"
by Hugh MacLeod of gapingvoid.com

I'm reading and searching this book for outside-the-box creativity and marketing ideas for professional musicians.   Hugh has had unlikely success with his art and business of doodling on the back of business cards after hours from his day job as a copywriter.  Please join me in evaluating the 40 keys to creativity he suggests.

Key Two - "The idea doesn't have to be big.  It just has to be yours." ~ Hugh MacLeod


At first blush, Hugh, this resonates as truth with me.   However, when I begin to drill down and think about myself as a musician, writer and performer,  I feel a little squirmy - I mean- is there really anything I've ever done, written or sung that's completely original?  Is there perhaps a continuum of originality?

After-all, history is the memory – the intelligence, if you will,  of what has been seen, heard, felt, done, experienced, tasted, smelled, sung, etc. across the spectrum of time.  History encapsulates the remembrances of what came before it was reported.  That memory is the fabric displaying the continuum of interwoven threads of discovery now informing our own current creative thoughts and expressions.                  

Isn't all art, dance, song, cuisine, religion, philosophy, architecture, mechanics, agriculture, technology, manufacturing, sociology, psychology, medicine, law, well - isn't everything is predicated upon and intertwined with what came before it?   As Helen Keller stated “No one truly owns anything or anyone.” To quote a proverb from King Solomon of the Old Testament of the Bible - "There is nothing new under the sun." Everything evolves from state to state.

Therefore, the practice of MacLeod’s mantra that “it has to be yours”  has the potential of leading a musician to a state of creative and professional paralysis.  If I only allow myself to invest in my work when I am convinced my melody or lyric is completely unique, not influenced by any other artist or music, then they'd probably have to bury me without having finished a single tune.  

But then MacLeod states:
“The sovereignty you have over your work will inspire far more people than the actual content ever will.”


Ah - ha! So, maybe he wants us to think of sovereignty or ownership as the governing of self in the creative process,  rather than the governing of  “it” i.e.  the creation.  It is when I am totally invested in the process that I have the freedom to apply my passionate and creative energy to the idea, work, song, or dance.  As I am consumed by it and give my self freely to "it" - "it" becomes something new or “mine.”   That is the freedom that Hugh talks about.  It is when I get into that zone, things begin to happen.   Other people click with "it" and my little song begins to snowball, because it is then that I just might inspire others to do their own creative work.


How?  How do we get ourselves into that zone?  Any ideas?  I'd love to hear them.
Please leave a comment!



Thanks,

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Key One of "Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity"

I bought "Ignore Everybody"  by Hugh MacLeod the very day it was recommended by Derek Sivers on his blog. 

I love it so far.  Don't bother to read it if you are offended by an occasional swear word.      Author Hugh MacLeod  let's it all hang out.  He's got some hilarious stories about his journey of becoming a successful cartoonist by scrawling funny remarks and sketches on the back of business cards - sitting at a bar after-hours from his job as a copywriter for an advertising agency.   Though Hugh is a cartoonist, he provides some pithy tips to those of us making our living through our music.   I'm going to share a series of blogs as I work my way through the book looking for those tips and applications for musicians.
   
Key One: "Ignore Everybody"

Hugh's basic premise is that you really don't know if your idea is any good the moment it's created.  Nobody else does either, so keep it hush-hush til you've let it rattle around inside you a while, and you've tweaked and developed it some.  He also says "the more original your idea is,  the less good advice other people will be able to give you." because "Great ideas alter the power balance in relationships.  That's why great ideas are initially resisted."

This insight gives a deeper understanding of what Julia Cameron preaches in "The Artist's Way" about drawing a circle around your self and work, and keeping your energy inside that circle, focused entirely on the work.   Protecting it from well-meaning friends, family or business associates.  One raised eyebrow, one lukewarm remark can potentially derail fresh but vulnerable confidence.

Hugh's observation about altering the balance of power in relationships is very helpful in understanding why things get awkward with others when you share your new ideas or songs.   It helps us understand what motivates resistance from others.

Sometimes, I do feel the urge to share a brand new song as soon as I've stirred all main ingredients together.  But I'm usually aware of how uncomfortable sharing prematurely made me feel in the past.    If I don't let the song simmer and stew for a while,  it's probably not going to be as satisfying as I initially imagined.  I'm more likely to abandon it before it even had a chance to develop it's full flavor and aroma from a number of taste, season, and simmer cycles.

Ignore everybody?  How do we do that with the artist-direct-to-fan music business model now firmly established?  There is an increased demand for quick and total access to the artist and product.   It is going to require the artist's confidence and discipline to maintain a level of privacy around him/her self and the work.   We are having to learn to be more business minded and deliberate about how and when we share what.   The artist will know when it is the right time to share.    Otherwise, musicians may sacrifice quality for quantity.

Your thoughts?

To be continued on Key Two

Perfectly Imperfect

I am perfectly imperfect - always wanting to be more than I am, but embracing the me I am and blessing what I have to share in this present moment.  ~ PMH


I want to be more than I am - always reaching, learning, changing and growing. But wanting to be more doesn't mean that I'm less than who I need to be in this moment.  I allow myself to embrace the me of the here and now even though I know I am capable of reaching for more.  Yet another paradox of grace!

May 2010 be a year we imperfectly share more of our perfectly imperfect selves with each other.