It’s quite simple. If the drive to create is deeply ingrained in your soul, coursing through your veins and as natural as every breath you breathe, you have no choice in the matter. Exterior comforts or lack thereof mean nothing. They are an inconvience at best. True artists create in spite of their surroundings.. people, places and things..money ..no money ..critique whether good or bad. We brush it all aside and put pen to paper.
Every life experience is a muse, a song title, a landscape to paint, a character to act out. As Keef said, as he was being released from jail in the 60′s,”Maybe I’ll get a good song out of it.”
There is nothing like the feeling an artist gets when he or she makes someone laugh, cry or think, with their work.
My guitar calls to me like Richard Pryor’s crack pipe called to him. It sits in the corner, sometimes for weeks, and then tells me to pick it up.It has an idea. I wake up in the middle of the night with a riff rollin’ around my head and have to grab my guitar. It won’t stop until i suss it out..play it..feel it..see if it’s worth the trouble to agonize over.
I stare at a blank piece of paper, tortured for that perfect line that will hit someone right in the heart..or below the waist. I get up, walk around,come back,nothing.But I don’t stop until I get it. It needs to be just perfect. Every word counts.. Every phrase…the way it sings, as we say.
I am absolutely without a doubt the same person I was at 13, listening to music on the roof of my apt building in the Bronx, transistor radio glued to my ear.
From first seeing the Stones on the Ed Sullivan show at 8 yrs old, to a “looking for trouble” teenager at the legendary NYC Rock and Roll bar Max’s Kansas City, to Cleveland’s Rock Hall took me 50 yrs and I’m one lucky Byrd indeed! One of the very few to be so honered, I am extremely humbled and proud. But mark my words, it’s a perk..a freakin’ huge perk.. but a perk. Award or or no award, I would still be dragging my guitars around to venues, big and small, to carry the Rock and Roll Torch because that is who i am..period!!
I still go into every project wide eyed and excited to see what the Rock and Roll gods have in store for me. I still get that same adrenaline rush as i’m about hit the stage..not nerves..it’s the anticipation of the unknown..how will the songs play out..will I have a voice tonight..break a string..have what it takes. I love it!!!
Thing is, if you are a true artist, you do it because you can and because you have to. If someone buys one of your songs or poems or paintings, it’s a plus.
We do it either way.
Validation and fame can be sweet no doubt. But the true artist creates with or without all of that, because it is how we express ourselves.
Never stop..never quit.. We press on.