the final inning + last free download

the last download of this project is a live version of “the little cowboy” from our show on 8 OCT in Portland ME. it features the awesome slide playing of “distillation” producer dave chalfant. thanks to everyone who came out to the shows, watched the webcast, and took home some anniversary schwag!

as i wrap up the anniversary project, i’ve been thinking that being a musician is a little like being a professional athelete. if you’re in a band, you’re like a baseball team; if you’re me, you’re like a tennis player. but check this out:

in many of the same ways, the business of sports and the music industry reward youth. travel and performance are physically demanding, especially over a long period of time. you ride an emotional rollercoaster, getting yourself up every night for a game or a gig, and riding your adreneline until you crash- in victory or defeat. only to do it again the next day, in the next town. from the outside, the life appears glamorous, but behind the scenes the work of practice is hard and the down time is often incredibly boring. both demand endless self-promotion and an ego of a certain size and toughness to weather the grueling work and inevitable rejections.

older atheletes will tell you that what they lose in flexibility, speed, or stamina, they make up for with experience, wisdom, and wiles developed over seasons.  the same is true with music. my listening skills only get deeper the older i get. my writing continues to hone itself of its own accord through repetition. what my hands can no longer do, i’m learning to do with my voice. the pleasure of music, the nuance in the art, is only growing deeper and more apparent to me.

doug glanville, a former pro baseball player, wrote a fabulous blog last year for the new york times. one of his entries described the end of an athlete’s playing career.  as a certain pitcher said it, you never stop loving playing the game, you stop loving preparing to play the game.

when i read that, my heart leapt. i feel exactly the same way, and like in so many other ways in my life, sports is able to articulate something i couldnt otherwise put my finger on.

in the past few years, i’ve been building an identity and community outside the music industry. one that is more consistent and not based on someone else’s approval. i have a community that cares for me whether i have 2000 twitter followers or none, whether i have a new album or not. i’ve worked so hard for so long in an all-consuming business, that i didnt know the toll it was taking on my body or my spiritual life. now that i have slowed down, it’s painfully obvious to me.

i’m not gonna stop playing music. i can’t. it’s how i think, how i express myself, where i find joy and creative fufillment. i absolutely love getting to meet all the folks who have supported my music for so long. but in many ways, my playing days are done. the “distillation” anniversary project has allowed me to see that and to celebrate the hard work i’ve put in so far. i say that from a place of acceptance and excitement about what my future holds.

as i sit here this november, looking ahead to 2011, i’ve got an awful lot on my plate. i’m starting to write a new record. i’ll be heading to a few more conferences this year to share and connect with inspiring minds of all sorts. i’m going to put more time into my acting. i’m going to start a production studio. i want to do a bike tour and collaborate with some new artists. and, who knows, maybe i’ll go into coaching.

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About erinmckeown

musician, writer, and producer
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