Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Cool #9 - Creating your own style, and having the guts to do so

Think about this - if everyone did what everyone said was "cool," we'd still be wearing knee socks, powdered wigs, and be playing the latest J.S. Bach tune.

Society has heroes, and has much as it frowns upon deviants from it's strict guidelines, every hero is different, dazzling, spectacular, and was, at one time, not cool.

It seems that some guys in funny clothes always make the guidelines, by the way.

Was it cool for Copernicus to dare to suggest that the Earth actually moved around the Sun, instead of the other way around? His model of a Heliocentric solar system caused big waves, and was definitely not "cool." This time, it was the church guys in funny clothes that said it wasn't cool.

Now we know that ol' Copperhead was right. (But we still dress like those church guys at the rennisance fair, but I think we can all agree that it's not cool anymore.)

Take the band Kiss. OK, now, those guys have guts to get up on stage dressed like antennas for nuclear radiation. But they did it, and they carried it off with authority. You might not be a Kiss fan, but hey, you're heard about then, and they probably have more money then you ever will.

But can you imagine getting dressed up like Gene Simmons, and say...oh... going to the grocery store? How much guts that would take?
(I have a story about dressing up similar to Elton John, and going to the grocery store, but I was young, and after discovering the traction problems of high heels, and earning my Dad a halo for taking me out in public, I dropped the whole cross dressing thing. But folks, I was three years old at the time.)

It can be so hard to break away from the tribe, and to say "this is what I'm doing, because it's me, and because I think it's cool!"

I know, because I've tried. I've succeeded, and failed. I've dressed very crazy sometimes, and acted even crazier. Other times, I've sat in the corner, and done my best to fit in.

On a recent trip through the mountains, and it's accompanying tiny towns, I had an interesting thought. Wondering what it would be like to move to one of these villages with one stoplight, I figured that I'd never be accepted by the close-knit community that's been there for generations. Or if I was, all I would need to do to insure my exclusion would be to slip up one time, and walk down the street singing an Ozzy Osbourne song at the top of my lungs.

Everyone would think I was crazy (which I am,) and gossip about me like there was no tomorrow.

It struck me as so ironic, this hypothetical community, set in such beautiful, wild scenery, bound in mental straitjackets, because they would be afraid of what their neighbor would say.

It would be all in their head. Wow. How stifling. All 500 of 'em frozen in place.

Then, of course, the question that comes knocking at the door is...Does this happen to me, in my life?

As musicians, we learn the styles of the greats. Charlie Parker, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan. If they did something outlandish, we consider it cool, because it's accepted.

But if WE try to use chromatic passing tones in our own way, sometimes we want to jump off the bandstand, and jump off a cliff! Imagine if you did two handed tapping, and Van Halen had never existed? Would you be bothered if people looked at you funny?

I think it's important to recognize when we're trapped by our view of society's mind. Remember, there will always be little chattering birds of people that will hate what you do. There's people that hate Hendrix. But did that stop him?

All we need to do to exit this trap is to...Recognize it, and not buy into it. Simple. But
it takes courage.

This also applies to life as well. I've been in so many situations where the cool thing to do is to drink, or get high. But that wasn't me, so I didn't. I've worn shoes six sizes too big, and when I did it with conviction, it went over great. When I didn't present it with courage, that's when it was stupid. Or take street music. Folks love hearing it, and are scared to death of doing it themselves. So when I pass it off with gusto, it soars. But if I snap into the timid, meek, "oh, I'm so terrible" mindset, people pick up on that. And guess what- nobody wants to listen to that!

We have a strong, if misguided, instinct to stay in the heard. If we break out with difference, the cows can moo pretty loud sometimes.

But for me, I want to be known for my statements, and my style - not my exemplary citizenship.

And I can't make my own style if I take the safe road, and don't make waves. I, for one, don't plan on just tipping the boat.

I'm gonna rock it.

How 'bout you?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You have lost it Poodleman. But, of course, we already knew that!