August 20, 2012: one year ago I left behind paychecks, security, and whatever semblance of normalcy my life clung to. And what a year it’s been. I had set my mind to playing music full-time for two years prior to leaving my job, and my feelings toward the decision have progressed beyond uncertainty into “hands down the best choice of my life.” Sure, I’ve spent cumulative hours and probably days sobbing at my kitchen table, I’ve bent my ethics in order to pay my bills, and I entered the wild world of credit cards. But at the end of just one year I’ve also accomplished the things that I’m most proud of in all of my 26.
Writing and performing music has always been my first love. But like so many people, many of them more talented and gifted than I, from the beginning I assumed I had to have a day job. This concept seems like such lunacy now that I laugh about it with a wild glint in my eye, while eating a breakfast of carrots and BBQ sauce that I scavenged from the fridge of the beautiful lake house that my best friend is house sitting. I find myself in the strangest places these days. I remember my last week at the salon, when a client of mine who was self-employed in some area of hypnosis told me, “the people who don’t jump off the edge like you’re about to, they’re the suckers.” I saw a wild glint in his eye and thought to myself “well, you’re kind of crazy.” It turns out that you have to do so many crazy things just to stay afloat that it becomes run-of-the-mill. The beauty of it is that you can ask of yourself that which no one else in this country can legally ask of you. And instead of fulfilling someone else’s dreams, it will be in the name of whatever ideal you choose. It is only now that I’m beginning to see and greatly resent the monopoly that our culture has on our time. Forty hours a week spent doing something you don’t care about? Now that seems crazy.
So, why am I so excited about the future as I eat scraps out of someone else’s fridge in the midst of a life that in no way seems financially sustainable? Because if there’s one thing this past year has given me, it’s hope. When you cast yourself out on the line to humanity, it’s as if all of their goodwill is available to you. And this is coming from a gal who was raised in a bootstrap republican household, and therefore been working and paying every bill she incurred since age 14 (thanks for the work ethic, mom and dad!). Being perpetually broke for the first time in my life has taught me many things, but most importantly, that kindness is learned in accepting it. I’m the type who swings hard to the side of independence and isolation, and both of those things have had to take a pretty tough beating in the last year. Thankfully they were beat down by support and camaraderie. I’m really not sure how I get by every month, but I did just make up this probably accurate statistic that 20% of it is my scrambling desperation and 80% of it is human kindness.
I feel as though I can’t type this all out without mentioning the songs of John Davey. JD has been playing music occupationally since I’ve known him, with what I perceive to be little regard for the trappings of success. He’s somehow both a people’s musician and a musician’s musician, with an approach to songwriting that can only come from years spent on the road. One line from his song “Spent” that keeps rising to the top of my thoughts is “the return on my exchange is much, much, more than you could even ever believe in.” Touring as an independent musician becomes less and less about crowds and money with every show, even as a goal. Human connection is the byproduct that I’ve begun to prize above all, along with the introspection and friendships that are cultivated by a life on the road. Money is only important because it means that such beautiful things can be sustained. And after dragging amazingly talented musicians like Zachary and Noah all around the country with me over the last year, sleeping in cars and eating border sauce for dinner, I want more than anything to be able to cut paychecks to the people who believe in me enough to spend months performing my songs.
As to the future, I couldn’t be more excited about the next moves that are already taking form in camp LKB. I have dozens of new songs I want to use to make records. I’ve already begun planning and collaborating for tours in 2013 that nearly make my head explode in anticipation. My hope is that I can get help from professionals with the things that make me sob at my kitchen table, like booking and press and promotion, and focus more on writing and performing music. But regardless I will carry on, or more appropriately, we will carry each other on.
With love, Laura