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Ask the Rock Doc 
Sound Advice 4 a song (responding to a "Tex" message) 
Advice columnist: Psychologist, Dr Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr BLT 

*Some details associated with the following exchange has been altered to protect the confidentiality of the inquiring party and to emphasize key psychological and spiritual principles.

To hear to Dr BLT's cover of Murray McLaughlin's, 1972 hit, The Farmer Song hit the following link 

Farmer's Song/Dr BLT cover
http://www.drblt.net/music/StrawHatn.mp3

Dear Rock Doc: 

I'm 20 and my life, as I once knew it, is pretty much over.  I was bound for fame and fortune, but somehow I ended up on the farm, working for my dad.  Me and my band, Spineless Punks, involving a fusion of Bakersfield Sound, alt country and post-punk, were offered a record contract with a major label, but, at the last minute, my co-writer, who also happens to have founded the band, and has all the power, pulled the plug on the whole operation.

My band, at that point, was beginning to pull in the big bucks, but, after the record deal failed to pan out, the band split up and I was never able to get anything profitable going again.  It's now been 5 years.  I ended up flat broke and begging my dad for work.  

So here I am, on a farm, near Calgary Alberta, Canada.  I actually like farming, but I find myself blaming God for stealing away my one and only chance at fame.  I shouldn't adore fame so much, but the fact is, I do (or, the prospect of it, that is).  I stopped reading my Bible, I stopped going to church, and I've taken up growing marijuana in my parent's vegetable garden as a side project.  I've started a new band called 

Tex Mex and Roughnex.  We're good, but nobody cares.  We've been repeatedly turned down for record deals and find it hard to get a gig in anything but the slimiest of local bars.  

So I need some advice from the rock doc me and all of my friends came to know from your part in that Cake music video.  I also understand that you recently did a re-make of one of my favorite songs of all times---The Farmers Song by Murray McClouglin.  Would you send me a link?  He's a Canadian too, did you know?  Well, I've got chores to do.  Catch you later. 

Tex 

Dear Tex, since he is a Canadian, since it's one of your favorite songs, and because you are feeding North America by farming, I've posted a link to your requested song above.  Farming and playing in a band are very similar in some ways.  Some years, you toil, and sweat, and bleed, but the weather is bad, and you end up with little or no crop at all.  Some years, everything works in your favor, and you find yourself with a bumper crop.

Sometimes there are several bad years in a row, whether farming, or playing music.  You can't afford to give up your dreams, or you may never see a bumper crop in your lifetime, and everybody needs at least one bumper crop.   It may not translate into the type of fortune and fame that you've envisioned in your mind.  That's what you want, but it may not be what you need.

I would suggest just keep practicing, performing and looking for opportunities to share your talents, and, hopefully make some money in the proces.  

I haven't had consistent success with my music.  In fact, even the most successful songs have never appeared in a Billboard chart.  I've had one or two song get over 10,000 downloads, and for that, I'm grateful.  I try not to compare myself with others, but, rather, to offer authentic, good quality music, and to consistently and diligently seek opportunities to make the most of it.  

You are not an island, and neither is your band.  You must seek out the support of your local music community and reach beyond the parameters of that community.  Success, as a musician, is most often accomplished in the context of a dynamic interaction between musicians and the audience.  Go for their hearts, not their pocketbooks, and the money will follow.  

Do you have an old musical hero in your community that you'd like to emulate?  Do what I've suggested in my blog, 

Bakersfield Sound Underground 

Hook up with a mentor, somebody who has gone before you, and who has experienced the type of success you are aiming for.  Learn the ropes from that person (s) so you won't have to re-invent the wheel.  Study Vygothsky's sociocultural theory to learn more about how you might benefit from a mentor in an appretice type of role.  

If you have the talent, add perseverance, and faith.  Drop the dope (that's the kind of farming that will slow you down as an artist and land you in prison).  Cultivate patience.  Be persistent in prayer, not trying to force God's will into your yours, but to pray that his will, and his will alone be done.  Since he gave you the talent and the passion, it is likely that he wants you, and others to reap the benefits, but keep in mind that the rewards he has in mind for you may differ from your expectations.  It's not that God is down on fame, but if it's all just a game, your dream will go down in flames, and you'll go insane.  Make it about the music and connect meaningfully with people with your music as a tool.  The rest will follow.  

God wants to shower you with his blessings.  I predict a bumper crop in the not-so-distant-future.  
Rock on! 

Dr BLT 

If you're a musician in distress (or a friend or family member of one) contact the rock doc at drblt@drblt.net 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
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