Home 24/7. With Homeless Songs.
Hi, there, it's been a while. I have a lot on my mind today. It's Tuesday, March 24th. Here in Utah we are currently social distancing at the order of Governor Herbert, in response to Covid 19. Unless you have been living under a rock, (if so, nice work, you are very skilled at social distancing!) you know exactly what I am talking about. My four children are all doing school online right now. My teaching job at the music school where I work is also online. The musical my daughter has been practicing for all year has been indefinitely postponed. We're waiting for new dates for another big show my kids are in. Several of my husband's big gigs have cancelled. My kids desperately miss their friends. All of this might resonate to you in ways, no matter what your profession is.
For the music biz, things are pretty crazy right now. Keep in mind it was already tough. For the past several nights, Joe and I have finally been watching the Ken Burns Country Music documentary series. I've been absolutely enthralled with the stories of people leaving behind their failed dust bowl farms and jumping onto a box car till they got to a radio station where they could pick their banjo on the airwaves and become a star. And all those stories of stars who started out just singing on their front porches after a long day of picking cotton. And then over the years the whole business transformed and grew till on the last episode that we watched last night, we saw Garth Brooks sailing through the air singing for tens of thousands of people in stadiums and selling several million compact discs. I laughed out loud from my couch as Ken Burns listed off the exorbitant sales numbers and dollars being made.
My music career began in the Garth Brooks time period. I never became a superstar but I did pretty well for a local indie artist for a few years. And even better than that as a label artist for a few more. Once Napster and then Pandora and Spotify came into the picture, the whole business changed. It used to be that you'd make all your money on CD sales, and touring and shows were an advertising expense to get the word out and influence sales. Now it's the opposite. There is no money to be made in CD sales. Those are no more. And for most artists I know, the pennies from streaming, while for some they add up, are nothing compared to what it would have been to sell copies of an album. There's no money to be made on sales. The only way to make money is to tour and do shows. For many fellow musicians, shows and touring are the absolute bread and butter. Literally, the ticket sales buy the bread and butter they put on their families' tables. And now, there are no shows for a little bit here.
Over the past few days Joe and I have both gotten texts and calls from musician friends who want to keep going somehow. A little because of the money and a little because as musicians that's who we are. We make music. The logistics of the market are so backwards right now and have been for a while. Honestly the only reason there is still music to listen to from anyone anywhere is that we all figure out ways to keep making it somehow because we just have to. So we get creative. I wish I could tell you some of the brilliant ideas we are hearing from our friends about how to keep going in such a weird time. If even half of these pan out it will be really cool. I'm thrilled to be a part of the conversation.
At the end of this social distancing, I don't know how it will all be sorted out. For some of my friends in the entertainment industry, this down time will be the nail in the coffin of their little business. Some of us may just be back on our front porches again playing our guitars, after a long day of whatever 2020's suburban version of cotton picking is. Toilet paper manufacturing, maybe??
I have two things to say to you about all of this.
#1. If you love some music you are hearing, find a way to thank that musician for making it. Thank them in dollars if you can. Do the modernly unthinkable and purchase a download of their song or album. Thank them in words no matter what. Even if you think you're the millionth person to tell them how much you love what they're doing. We need that more than we admit sometimes. Even if you don't buy stuff.
#2. There's been some talk over the past few days that for the sake of the economy, we should just throw in the towel on all of this social distancing and just go back to normal no matter how it will jam the hospitals and no matter who might die. It's just a small percentage, right? Probably not anyone you actually know? I say this as someone very much financially affected by this virus. Really. The bailouts and payroll tax cuts and such are unlikely to extend to the non traditional types of work my family does. We will get the full recession gut punch. But if you think it's not worth it to me to social distance right now, you've got me all wrong. At no time have I believed it's simply too much to ask. And you do know someone who will die if we don't do this. I know I do anyway. My mother is 80 years old and a cancer survivor. She fought cancer so hard that she can hardly even walk now. She did it because her life is worth living. I treasure every day I still have with her. My older sister has terminal cancer. She's had several surgeries and has endured aggressive treatments in order to buy more time. She has chronic pain. Because of her fight, she's been able to live long enough to see her son get married and she has lived to become a grandmother. She has more days with her husband and her two children. She also did groundbreaking research and got her PhD as she has been fighting cancer. And she is still in my life. If my mom or my sister caught Covid 19, they'd die. Especially if hospital beds and supplies were limited, they'd both be at the bottom of any triage chart. They're worth every single day I spend at home, no matter how many days that turns out to be. Whether you realize it or not, there are people in your life who would also be affected if we all just gave up. Think about it carefully before you decide it isn't worth it.
I still have songs to sing, even if they're without a home on a stage or on a tour. I'll keep singing them because that's what I do. If you follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, you'll know that I've been posting daily Soothing Pandemic Tunes. One a day since the social distancing has been in place. Today's song is I Am A Homeless Song. I've shared it here, too. Hope you enjoy.