A couple weeks ago, I was asked to participate in a skit for my job. The punch line of the sketch was me smashing a guitar. I came up with a way to set up that punch line, then did the busy work of tracking down an old unplayable guitar that I wouldn’t feel bad about smashing. I got the kids in the band to play along and keep the secret. The idea for the night was “Random Night”.. A bunch of weird stuff happens for no reason. We were the first part of the night, so the kids did not know what to expect. I told my buddy Phil what we were doing and he decided to film it. I did my best to act like I was actually mad, and sell the sketch, but I don’t think I’ll be getting any calls from the academy. The sketch went off without a hitch, and besides a few laughs with the kids, I didn’t think much of it.
Then Phil uploaded it to youtube.
I knew it would end up online, but had no idea the kind of response it would get. Between the original upload and the pirated copies it got well over 250 thousand views in 2 weeks, and even ended up in a nationally syndicated tv show. My phone blew up for a couple days straight with family, friends, and people I hadn’t heard from in a long time wondering what the deal was. I would graciously explain the situation, have a little laugh, but on the inside, I was, I am, frustrated.
I’ve spent the last 10 years of my life as an aspiring songwriter/musician. I’ve poured my heart and soul into it, and people around me have poured their heart, soul, and wallets into my work. Last year my friends Alex Malcolm, Glen Hanbury, Owen Thomas, Thom Daugherty and myself put together a music video to honor the people who have fought for our country. I’m highly uncomfortable with anyone using things like this to gain recognition for themselves, but it was the best way I felt I could honor people that deserved it, and in my heart I know I have had the best of intentions.
But the best of intentions, time, money, effort, work, heart and soul you put into your art don’t equal web traffic or sales. “Hold On” is currently at 13 thousand views, 18 months after release. And while the feedback from people has been incredibly encouraging, I didn’t make enough money from the single to even pay the small annual fee to keep it on iTunes. Ten years of doing my best to put a little good into the world with music and my top two YouTube videos are of me smashing a guitar and a parody called “Pants on the Ground”.
Let’s be clear. I am not Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Elton John or any of the great songwriters of our time, nor do I pretend to be. What I’ve learned through all this though is much more about the world than myself. In general, humans give their time to controversy, drama, gossip, fear mongering, small mindedness, and bringing one another down than they do the good things in life. We love to watch people crumble. We love confrontation, and we LOVE destruction.
I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit that I love those things too. I think there’s something endearing about being able to laugh at ourselves, while still loving one another. What I hope for myself, and for my children though, is that we can give more of our time to the good things. Things like art and creativity, through which we learn about honor, wisdom, faithfulness, loyalty, peace, and even the nature of God Himself. For every video we watch of a guy falling out of a tree or the fad of the week, I hope we watch two that will teach us something or enrich our lives in some way. For every dollar we spend on a cheap, fast meal, I hope we give two to the local restauranteur doing his best to make original, handcrafted food. For every second we spend thinking about our difficulties and problems, I hope we spend two thanking God for the clothes on our back and roofs over our heads. And for every minute we spend taking in mindless entertainment, I hope we spend many, many more on the artistic endeavors that can truly change lives, and I hope we give not only our attention, but our resources as well, for it’s these things that truly have the potential to change the world, one life at a time.