Last night, I watched the Grammys because they are just so entertaining. It was worth it just to see the Dave Matthews Band perform, and I happen to really like Fergie.
Musicians, like fine artists, and writers “choose” a precarious career path when they strive to make their mark on the world with their own brand of creativity, or just to make a living. Whether you like the work of a particular performer, or not, in occupations that call for a measure of talent, practicality, and some luck, just the fact that people know they exist is quite an accomplishment. Along the way, you can be sure they have all faced their own personal “dream squasher.”
My father, a retired football, and wrestling coach in Bergen County, NJ, was never one of those, with his own family, or with any other. Early in his career, he had the opportunity to coach Bill Parcells. What ever you think of the Big Tuna, there is no denying he has had a successful career. A few years back, when we met him at a local restaurant, he told me half jokingly that he hadn’t gotten over the fact that my father missed a football game to get married. My parents had been married for over 40 years at the time!
As a young teacher in Bergenfield, my dad recalls the parents of Bob Gaudio urging him to talk their son out of leaving school to become a musician. He didn’t, and Bob went on to make a nice career for himself as a member of the Four Seasons, and with his later musical accomplishments. In the late 1970s, my brother John, a member of the Hackensack HS Wresting Team, came home after practice one day to tell my parents that his team mate, Guy O’Brien, was leaving the team to pursue a muscial opportunity. Guy joined the Sugar Hill Gang, and has done nicely for himself, to say the least.
As a former recruiter for Home Box Office, I was surrounded by dreamers, actors, producers, musicians, working nine to five jobs just to pay the bills until their big break. I hired them everyday, and followed their dreams. One of them, friend and former co-worker, Julie Gold comes to mind. As I watched the Grammys last night, I recalled watching Julie accept her Grammy Award for writing the song, “From a Distance,” that went on to become an international hit. Julie, one of the funniest people I’ve ever met, is no longer making coffee for staff meetings, fixing the copier, or answering phones! Before she left HBO, she told me to always dream big and not to hide my light under a barrel, something I’ll never forget.
Not long after, I left the cushy comfort of the corporate world to pursue a career in art. It has not always been an easy path, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Now, as I embark on a writing career, I find myself starting anew. Gustav Mahler, the Austrian composer, once described himself as being “everlastingly” a beginner. As successful as he was, he took risks, blending genres, facing his critics, not unlike successful artists today.
In a well-known guide to literary agents, I read recently about how one agent described herself as a “dream squasher.” Granted, a Literary Agent can receive up to 300 plus queries, and submissions per month, some of them probably horrible, but I think it is quite grandiose to give one’s self such powers over the fates of others.
So let’s bring it back to the dogs. Whether you are a young Purebred experiencing its first appearance at the big show in New York City this month, or someone just starting out on a new endeavor, we all really are everlastingly beginners, and that is what keeps creativity alive, and makes dreams come true.
Remember to call upon some of your own personal creative abilities when you make your plans for National Dog Week this September…