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Details, and, in some cases, the method of communication associated with the following letter may be altered, to protect the confidentiality of the distressed person.
Todayís musician-in-distress comes to us from the self-proclaimed ďRay Dio Reject.Ē
Todayís sound solution one-song soundtrack may be heard and/or downloaded for free by musicians in distress and other Tollbooth visitors here:
His Radio Was His Rodeo
Dear Rock Doc:
Iíve been following your career on MTV and also noticed you recently had a hit song on the mp3 charts at an internet site I download from all the time. You have become kind of a cult hero at Crippled Creek High School, where I attend. You are considered especially hip among a clique I call the brainy, geek rockers, who just happen to be big Cake fans.
Iím a 17-year-old Christian ďhickĒ hop artist and I write and record some killer stuff. The problem is, Iíve been writing and recording since the age of 10 and nobody has even heard of me. Iíve spent hundreds, maybe even thousands of bucks mailing my songs to radio stations, but it hasnít got me anywhere. My parents are experiencing big time financial problems since my dad lost his job last fall, and I just want to earn enough money to help them out a bit. Iím a Christian and have been praying about it a lot, but God doesnít mind watching my music just sitting around collecting dust. The music director at my church says that my style of music is not glorifying to the lord, and honestly I donít know where he gets off. Much of it is about my relationship with Jesus, and there is no cussing and no nasty talk. I want to have a hit song like you, make some money, and just get a little famous. Thatís not too much to ask, is it?
Ray Dio Reject
Dear Ray Dio Reject:
Though I eventually picked up some national airplay, Iíve probably been rejected by more radio stations than you have, and as for my part on that Cake music video, it was relatively small and rather insignificant. As for that hit song, it took 15 years for the song to finally make it, and when it did, it wasnít a big enough hit to make the Billboard charts, only the internet download charts. So persistence does eventually pay off (if a person has talent to begin with that is), but when it pays, it may not pay the person in the way he/she anticipated it would. However, I do appreciate the fact that you know I exist as a recording artist. We all like to feel appreciated, and all artists like to be validated for their music. You are no exception, and, provided that you are in fact, talented, and Iím assuming you are, it is not too much to ask to ďhave a hit song, make some money, and just get a little famous.Ē There are plenty of artists out there who have had hit songs, have made money with their music, and have become famous to some degree, without losing their humility and without losing their minds. It all depends on where your priorities lie. If the prospect of fame, or the anxiety over the prospect of never becoming famous overwhelms you and causes you to lose focus and perspective, then I would say it represents a major problem.
Fame is fleeting. Feelings linger. If you are able to stir up feelings in others through your music-- feelings that touch lives and move people to take positive courses of action, then your music has taken on what I refer to as a ďforever flavor.Ē It has enduring value. Furthermore, if you are able to tell stories through your songs that people can relate to and learn from, and if you are able to tell those stories in creative ways that break new ground, your songs will have enduring value. The enduring value of your songs is ultimately ascendant over something as superficial as fame. Buck Owens didnít try to get famous, he tried to stir feelings in people, and he did stir such feelings. Moreover, he did it his way, not the way radio DJs or music moguls from Nashville would have him do it. And it paid off, big time. Like the song above, he approached the radio as a horse in a rodeo. He didnít let DJs or music moguls define him or set the course of his musical career. No, he took the bull by the horns and, with some help from above and from some close friends, he made the bull yield to his command. Moreover, while he was far from perfect, for the most part, he remained focused on the important things in life. Iím told that while he, like all of us, had some rough edges to wear out, he was a born-again Christian who loved the Lord. The Lord was the light that kept shining, even in the midst of darkness.
I would remind you to keep your eyes focused on Christ, and His will for your life. If you surrender your gift to Him, he will make sure your gift is used for His glory. It may not happen in your timing, but Godís timing is the best timing and Godís plan is bigger and better than yours or mine.
I am far from being a star, but the relatively minor musical milestones that I have encountered and celebrated on my sojourn have usually come about independently, or even in spite of my efforts, plans and goals. Usually when I get out of my way, God makes a way. For the most part, human beings sabotage their own dreams because they (we) are inherently self-destructive creatures. We are like instruments constantly in need of a divine tune-up. If you stay tuned to God and His will, and if you align your dreams with His vision, the path before you will seem clearer and Godís intentions for your music become increasingly apparent. The music director at your church may not understand or see the spiritual value in your music, but there may be other Christian leaders out there who will have an appreciation for what you are seeking to accomplish. Maybe its time you began sharing your music with a broader audience, and perhaps an audience comprising broader minded individuals.
As Ringo Starr once said in one of his biggest hits, It Donít Come Easy. But Godís blessing will come to you, perhaps when you least expect it, and when it does, it will all be worth the dues youíve paid.
****If youíre a musician
in distress, or a parent of one, write Dr. BLT at: