I've been in... let me see... (Girl Down, Watterson, Horrors of Toledo, In Defense of Picnics, Gregory Brock, Excuse Me, Can I Finish?, Ryley and the Guys, Oh Girl, glynngm)... 9 bands since 2001. And each and every one of those bands has contributed to the musician that I am today (so says Obvious Man).
At a glance, it looks like I've been in 1 band each year for the last 9 years, but the numbers are deceiving. If you look more closely, I was in 3 bands between 2001 and 2008, then in 2009, I was in 6 bands. Last year was a busy one...
Why so many bands last year? Well, I was unemployed for the first half of the year, so along with the lack of a weekly schedule and any job associated responsibility and a steady paycheck (well, unemployment benefits were steady enough) came a mulititude of free time. And I'm happy to say that most of that time was spent listening to or dreaming of or making music. Folk followed by adult contemporary then hip hop then good old fashioned indie rock... in regards to the bands I was in, I had no elitest genre loyalty.
Which brings me to the title of this blog post: "Don't put me in a box tonight". These are lyrics from a Watterson song, and I stand firmly by them. I don't belong to a certain scene. I'll dress like a hipster one day, then like a skater the next, then like a complete goober the next. I like what I like, and I'm becoming more and more comfortable saying, "If you have a problem with that, you can go fuck yourself."
I guess the reason I'm bringing this up is because I was sorting through a hard drive's worth of song ideas today, searching for a musical thread that unified them, examining them to see if it was apparently obvious that I had a particular "style" of writing. And the fact of the matter is I don't. I'll write a folk song one day, and a pop punk song the next, and an alt-rock ditty on Tuesday, and a country tune on Thursday, and a hip hop club banger on Saturday... and I used to be semi-annoyed by all of this genre hopping. Why can't I just stick to the one thing that works? Am I spreading myself too thin by writing all these different types of songs? Why don't I fit in a box?
These were obviously the wrong questions.
A better one to ask is "Why would you ever want to fit in a box?"
Why not be in as many bands as you can and have as many different artistic outlets as possible? I mean, I do get that there's only so much time in the day, and if I want to be a successful musician it only makes sense to know your audience and cater to them and be super, super focused on your image and your scene and your voice and your message...
Why limit yourself? Why pander? Why worry about if people are listening or why they're listening or if they hate your music or if they misunderstand it or if they misquote you or if they associate you with the wrong acts or if you fit the mold or if you lose market share by being muddled or if you move units or if you even make a living? Isn't the whole point of being an artist to push the limits of what's accepted, to challenge the status quo, to point out the beauty and the ugly and the failings and the successes and the pretension and the reality and the fantasy of being alive and to do all of this with no motives, no agenda, only because you were born to do it, you get antsy if you can't get all of the thoughts in your head out somehow?
Isn't that the point?
(I'd like to take a moment to apologize for rambling and to thank you so much for having read this far...)
Don't put me in a box tonight. When I wrote those lyrics, I thought I was talking to someone else, my parents, my girlfriend, my family, my bandmates, my co-workers, my friends, people at the show, people on the street...
But I wasn't. I was talking to myself.
Glynn, don't put yourself in a box tonight.