When you started singing or playing your instrument there was probably a strong reason why you picked it up. You probably had a feeling inside of you that you needed to get out; a drive to express yourself. The only problem was that you probably lacked the skill to communicate what you wanted to express effectively to the rest of the world. Getting from that point to “success” can be a path that’s lined with challenges.
Along the way you might get frustrated with your results. You might struggle with what you should say or do. You might find yourself trying to figure out what people want to hear or how to get them to listen. A lot of artists get lost on this path and some never find their way.
To get back on the path, you need to realize that all your real power as an artist comes from the reason why you do what you do. The feeling that made you decide to become a musician in the first place. Every one of us has our own truth that’s both deeply personal and universal at the same time. This is where all of your power lies and this is the light that will guide you on your true path.
No amount of talent can compensate for a lack of connection to your personal truth. No one else can or will ever know your truth as you know it. No one else can tell you what to create or play. You’re on your own with this one – it’s something only you can know. The artists who understand this at their core are the artists who can move mountains.
Sometimes the truth is hard. Sometimes the truth is ugly. Sometimes the truth hurts. The truth might scare you and it might make you insecure, but the truth is the most powerful thing you can ever express. The truth can be a power chord, or a melody or a lyric, but you’ll know it when you feel it. The next time you hear a song that moves you, think about the feeling that created it. Realize that all the lyrics, all the music and all the other elements come from the desire to express that feeling.
When Lady Gaga wrote “Poker Face,” you can bet she wasn’t trying to figure out what anyone else wanted to hear. It was her own truth that manifested itself in that song. It was an intoxicating blend of sexuality and ego that was a feeling that resonated deep inside her before anyone else. It wasn’t the instrumentation and the production and the mix that gave that song its power, it was the truth that gave it its power. The instrumentation, production, and mix were all manifestations of that truth.
Anthony Keidis didn’t write “Under the Bridge” because he wanted to buy a new house. He wrote it because he was trying to stay sober while his closest friends were using drugs in front of him. He felt alienated and depressed and it triggered dark memories of shooting speedballs under a bridge in downtown L.A. He’d spent so much time walking through the city and felt so alone that it seemed like the city was his only friend. He really meant it. That’s why you’ll never forget it.
U2, Aretha Franklin, AC/DC, Mary J. Blige – these are all artists who have deep connections with the sources of their true power. They didn’t make a career by chasing what was hot on the radio at the time. They made themselves legendary because they had the guts to give the world their truth.
We all know our own truth. All we need to do is to learn how to say it.
Article by Scott James of The Independent Rockstar Blog.
5 thoughts on “The Power in Truth”
The attention span of today’s listeners is shrinking by the minute. The truth by itself is not enough to grab their attention and turn an unknown artist into a super star. All these artists you mention had also great connections in the recording industry (i.e. “money” to back them up) and did extraordinary things, totally irrelevant to music, that made people talk about them and made them famous. It’s sad, but… true…
Great wisdom here! As a bassist, it is sometimes difficult to express that core of my being through what I’m playing. When I’m “tapped in” I don’t even see the audience, but I feel them while I’m sharing what I’m feeling through my sound.
I try to live by that rule. Thanks for the reminder!
Lani Ford of STARK
Well put, Scott. We artists can get caught up in logistics and opinions, etc. etc. But it’s the truth that people deep down want to hear. Even the most far out science fiction succeeds because of the truth it conveys.
“We all know our own truth. All we need to do is to learn how to say it” You are so right Scott, the truth is of utmost importance. At one point in our business not that long ago, it was easy to baffle the masses with nonsense. But nowadays it’s getting harder for an artist to pull the wall over his audiences eyes, they can smell insincerity. You are right my friend, the truth will never really hurt you, but it just might sting a little bit. Have a great vacation.
” It ain’t the arrow, it’s the Indian”