Playing with the big boys and girls
Tomorrow two talented and experienced working musicians are coming over to my home to jam out and make plans for the recording of a song I wrote for a film soundtrack. (I am also an actor in the film.) I am ecstatic...and terrified.
My husband thinks it’s hilarious that I’m so scared. From his perspective, I have nothing to fear. I’ve been singing since I was three years old. My mom taught my sister and me to sing in three part harmony with her when I was four, and began booking our trio for weddings by the time I was five. I think my first time singing in a recording studio was when I was eight or nine years old. When I was a teenager my mom helped me to figure out how to play a couple of songs from Sarah McLachlan’s “Fumbling Towards Ecstasy” on guitar. Soon I was writing my own.
I just read my husband what I’ve written so far. He sighed, shook his head, and said, “you are so ridiculous!” I think he means it as a compliment.
When I was a teenager, I unabashedly played my guitar and sang for friends in school and strangers in coffee shops. I covered songs by Crowded House, R.E.M., Joni Mitchell, Ani Difranco, Linda Rondstadt, Aimee Mann, and threw in one of my originals now and then. When I moved across the country to New York in my early twenties, I spent my first birthday in the city in Central Park. First a picnic with all seven of the people I knew. I asked them if they’d listen to me play and sing a little, boost my confidence, then take off so I could find a good place to busk for money. They obliged and after we parted I found a tunnel with great acoustics. It was late afternoon in late October and the breeze was starting to chill my hands a little, so I decided I wouldn’t play for long. But within twenty minutes someone had thrown a twenty dollar bill into my guitar case! I finished that song then during the next one a generous elderly man gave a hundred dollar bill. During the next song a woman approached me and offered to introduce me to a well-known producer. (Long story short, that didn’t work out, but it was still a great compliment.) Throughout my time in New York I went to open mic nights and landed gigs at bars. But I never felt I was a good enough musician to play with other musicians.
I guess that’s the source of my fear. I do have some musical training, but it’s in voice and not guitar playing or composition. Although I’ve written a dozen songs, I’ve never taken a theory class and barely know how to read music. Where do I get off thinking I can play with the big boys and girls? I guess I’ll find out tomorrow when two highly trained professional guitarists come over to my house to plan out the recording session for a song I wrote. The actual recording session will be later this month, and there will also be a professional fiddle player, drummer, and a phenomenal bass player (who also happens to be my father). Will they see how inexperienced I am? Will they hold it against me? I am terrified. But mostly ecstatic.