Butthurt singer-songwriter for hire
Looks like I fiddlesticksed up again. Gosh darn it; sometimes I should look down at that third rail and say, “You know, that’s a third rail. If I touch that third rail, I’m likely to get all shocked and all, so I’ll just note that thought and move away from that third rail without being stupid enough to touch it.”
But no. Instead of doing one of a hundred other things, like sit in meditative silence, or call that platonic galpal back who wanted to meet for a meal tonight, I had to do a stupid. I got an Facebook invite to a show at a local coffee room, and I clicked on the page for that show and typed a message about wanting to come, but I’m boycotting any shows by the person at the top of the ticket until he lets me play on one of his shows. The top of the ticket guy immediately wrote back: “That’ll never happen.” Fine, I wrote back. At least you’re finally communicating with me, instead of giving me a passive-aggressive cold shoulder every time I stupidly abase myself to you for asking to play on one of your shows. Then he said something like “Butthurt singer-songwriters aren’t my style.”
Now, I’m not sure that butthurt is the correct word; I think that in my case the word “frustrated” is closer to the mark. Hey, maybe I come across as butthurt, or unnecessarily entitled, to people, and I’m just a poor self-observer. But not being named Cayce, or Criswell, or Kreskin, or Mesmer, I have no idea unless you tell me, preferably before I make an annoying idiot out of myself. Psychic I am not, contrary to what those astrologers tell me about my Pisces Moon-Mercury combo in the sixth house trining my Neptune in the second or something like that.
Yes, I have a lot of songs that I want to play for people. I thought that this certain DIY straightedge punk legend and onetime local cafe owner might be open to my little ambition, perhaps. I figured wrong, of course, but I kept persisting even though I wasn’t getting any kind of straight answer. Perhaps I was, but it was telegraphed in that unspoken way that non-Asperger types communicate, and I was too cluelessly autistic to pick up the signals. Story of my life, there, really.
I could go off at this point and rip the guy a new sphincter with my precision-sharpened critic’s scalpel, but I won’t. I respect the guy’s work and like a lot of his songs, really, and in the past, we’ve enjoyed reasonably warm conversation to the point where I thought I could consider him a friend. I admire his tenacity to keep going even when the world is throwing him the middle finger, and I think he’s got a great work ethic. In fact, I’d spoken to his wife at one point about asking him to help me sequence a set’s worth of my songs, which is a service I would pay money to have done, and she seemed to voice that it might be a decent idea. Perhaps I misperceived. Anyway, I ran it past him, and got that cold shoulder, and didn’t press forward with that idea anymore. Asking for help in a way that I actually receive it doesn’t seem to be one of my strong suits, which is one reason I don’t seem to have many musician pals helping me to flesh out my songs.
My only caveat is that this person and his cohorts seem overly chummy and exclusionary, at least toward me. Perhaps they think that I, my music, or maybe both, “suck,” or aren’t up to their lofty standards, but they never got around to telling me to my face until now. Which is okay; I’ve spent large parts of my life casting what few pearls I have before swine, and I’m just getting around to stopping that behavior, or at least reining it in. The funny thing is, this person has rattled off many column inches in one of his blogs bitching about the local music scene, and to me, he and his little treehouse of friends are as much of the problem as anyone he rails about, and the idea of him calling anyone else “butthurt” is more than slightly risible.
But I’d rather not focus anymore on something I can’t control, which is what he or anyone else thinks about me. I’m more interested in getting at the root of the problem, which is why people react to me the way they do. It’s kinda like my dad used to tell me: “If you’re walking around town and all you keep running into is assholes, come home and look in the mirror.” And I really want to figure out why people perceive me as too “butthurt” to want to work with me, so I can address those negative qualities or try to get help working through them. I’m sincere about this; I don’t want to die and then have somebody say, wow, he wrote some pretty good tunes; too bad he’s not around to play them now.
So at some point, I’d really rather move past that which is holding me back. I’d like for people to want to play music with me, rather than talk behind my back about what a jerk they think I am, or laugh at me for trying. I’m not getting any younger, but mostly I’m getting incrementally wiser. I want to use the time I have left to communicate with others, and I really would like the privilege and opportunity to play my songs to people. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. But I’ll have to approach people who feel warmly toward me, rather than people who secretly harbor animosity toward me.
So maybe next time, I’ll do the smart thing and shut up before I make any more enemies. —Jackson Griffith