Today, we bring you the first in our new series, “In Their Own Words,” which will showcase guest blog posts by local musicians on all sides of the spectrum. Kicking things off is Zach Vinson – please listen to his tune “Swim Until It Takes” here. If you are a local artist and would like to contribute, please contact us here. And talk back to Vinson in the comments section.
Humans, by Zach Vinson:
Well, it’s another one of those steamy, blistering days here in Nashville. The calendar still says May, but my Wisconsin-born body thinks it must be the hottest day in July or August. This will be my second full summer here, which means I survived the first—although I’m still not sure how. Does it get easier? Anyone? I could use a hopeful word.
I grew up in a land of mild summers along the shores of Lake Michigan, dreaming that I’d be a musician until I was old and grey. It was an easy dream to have, and a pretty cool one besides. It made the girls think I was artsy and mysterious (which made up for me being short and scrawny).
I knew I would be a musician, I worked hard to get there, and I never made a Plan B. I’ve always thought that having a Plan B was for people who were bound to give up on Plan A. Bold move, Mr. Vinson.
Fast forward about a decade or so—I moved to Nashville, and everything changed. Now, I know quite a few “successful” musicians here in town, and more power to them. I mean that. To be able to carve out any semblance of a career in this crapshoot of an industry is a remarkable accomplishment.
But this word is to the rest of us.
I don’t think I realized it, but my identity has long been wrapped up in my abilities as a musician. It seemed to work pretty well for me in my wanderings around the Midwest the last several years—it was an uncommon career choice, and it had a bit of caché to it.
But moving to Nashville, as a musician, is like crossing the border from one country to another only to find that the $10 you have to buy lunch is now worth $.50.
Suddenly I had no value as a musician. I spent my days washing dishes in a restaurant, so there certainly wasn’t any dignity to be found there either. And just like that, I had no sense of worth.
I think this was a good thing.
I’m slowly learning to re-value myself as a created human being, not as a musician. And I’m slowly learning to see other people in the same terms. Thank goodness.
As far as my music goes, I’ve been lost in a web of confusion and discouragement for a while now, and most days I have no sense of direction whatsoever. I still don’t have a Plan B, but sometimes that looks more foolish than brave. I know I can’t possibly be the only one thinking like this in town, but we Nashvillians aren’t much good at making these confessions. Can we have a conversation now?
Maybe my music isn’t good enough. Maybe yours isn’t either, and no one has ever been kind enough to sit you down and tell you that. Maybe you aren’t working hard enough, or maybe you’re just not enough of a people person, because we all know that counts for something in this town. Maybe your music will never be appreciated by more than a couple dozen people.
And maybe all of those things are ok. Maybe we’re not all musicians. Maybe we’re all humans.