I saw Crazy Heart (www.imdb.com/title/tt1263670/) the other night. The Jeff Bridges (www.jeffbridges.com) film about the aging country singer. There are many many scenes of him drinking, drunk, or essentially wasting his time and feeling sorry for himself.
Don’t misunderstand, I enjoyed the film and Jeff Bridges truly is one of the more under appreciated actors around. Not so under appreciated that he isn’t rich and famous, so…you can hold off with too much pity. He’s doing fine.
But I digress (imagine that).
The film depicted this songwriter who was good (and T Bone Burnett / Stephen Bruton did a wonderful job on the songs). His (Bridges) songs have been recorded by other people and they’ve made him a living.
But he is an alcoholic, makes loser choices, and continues to live on the underbelly of the biz.
As I watched him lying there in his motel rooms, chain smoking, drinking and feeling sorry for himself, I realized how easy it would be for us all to embrace that behavior and those choices.
And please don’t get me wrong. They did not romanticize this character. They depicted him as the loser he was. His life and circumstances sucked. But you could see that he was where he directed himself to be, by his choices. I know that for many alcoholism is the reason they are there, but at some point everyone is sober. That’s the only time you can possibly take the wheel.
I thought about how many ratty motels I have stayed in; how many crappy places that I have played in between the grand ones I have also played. And the differences between the character Jeff Bridges was playing and who I am were obvious.
He sat in his room, drinking and feeling sorry for himself and the crap that life dealt him.
When I am out on the road here is what I think about: the show.
I want to be the best I can be each time that I go on stage. I think I owe that to anyone who has decided to share a portion of their ever shortening lives with me and to pay me for the privilege.
In the hotel room, I practice, I sing, I work on my songs and I’m a half a dozen years older than the character Bridges played. I’m still trying to get better.
When I produced Hamilton Camp (www.hamiltoncamp.com) he was almost 72. He showed up at the studio utterly prepared, having practiced a considerable amount before he even booked the time. THAT’s a hero. He inspired me to never stop the quest to get better at what you do.
Consequently, I don’t sit in the room and get loaded. That would just make for a bad performance. I want to do a great performance…every time. That means preparing for the gig. Way in advance.
The night before a show, you don’t party. You rest. The day of a gig you don’t party. You rest and practice. At the gig you get there early and you warm up, so that when you walk out on that club, concert stage, bowling alley or living room, you are prepared to access and offer up every gift that providence has given you.
You do all that and you don’t feel like or even have time to feel sorry for yourself or get loaded or make another loser choice.
Honor your gifts; honor your muse; honor your audience.
Believe it or not, that is more fun than anything.