Gettin’ Schooled Again, 1st week of Disciplined Scheduling, Grit & Wisdom From Clint Eastwood

eastwoodHello, good morning, and welcome to the Saturday Morning News Post!

As of last Tuesday I’m back in Montreal, and it feels pretty damn good to be in my own place again!

Don’t get me wrong, I love going home and spending time with family and friends of course, there’s nothing better really, but it’s all about balance. I can be a people person but then I like to get away from it all and just be on my own, getting down to business. And when it comes to business, Montreal is like my personal office: friends and family don’t call me in the office, there are few distractions, chores can wait, and my task is simply to work.

That said, too much time alone in the office comes with it’s own challenges. Sometimes you could use that extra person around, the one who looks at you in disbelief and says “Dude, what the fuck are you doing?” Any self-employed, work-at-home person out there knows exactly what I’m talking about here.

Like, for example, when you accidentally lose track of time (and your long to-do list) whilst reading Esquire men’s magazine at the breakfast table, or watching the Ellen show when your schedule clearly states you should be composing (hey! It only happened once a few times), or still wearing a robe at 3 in the afternoon. Or, when you’re simply staring in to your near-empty kitchen cupboards, standing idiot still for what seems like an eternity while that little white rat in your head runs on it’s wheel trying to decide what to make for dinner,… “Wellll,… Let’s see now, I’ve got some eggs but no bread for toast, I’ve got some peanut butter but again, the bread thing. I should start cooking more Chinese food, I used to really enjoy that, yes, definitely more Chinese food, and then Indian food for when the weather’s hot, I hear spicy food actually cools your body. That’s crazy. I wonder how that works, because whenever I eat spicy food I start to perspire; maybe you just have to stick with it for longer. I never stick with anything long enough. Will I even stay in Montreal this Summer? What if I don’t get any gigs this summer? How much debt can I incur before I have to work another cruise ship? I should start looking into getting a cruise ship gig for at least a month or two. Let’s see, how much would I make if I did 2 months on a ship?….Oh for Christ’s sake, that’s not the answer! Start thinking bigger picture for once; is 3 months playing cruise ships really the best use of your time? That reminds me, I’ve got to get my watch fixed, I can’t believe that stupid alarm has been going off at 3:24am for years now, maybe that’s why I feel so tired these days, it’s probably the alarm pulling me out of REM. What’s the name of that lead singer? Michael Stipes? I should check out Atlanta, Georgia some time, wait, no, it’s Athens, Georgia. What a strange name for a town in Georgia. I hear there’s lots of music happening down there, maybe I should move there after I get my masters degree, maybe then I wouldn’t have to…

… HEY! Dude, what the fuck are you doing!?

Oh, um, nothing. Just thinking about what to make for dinner. Well, back to work now.

Etc., etc.. Anyways, I’m happy to report I haven’t really needed that person this week and that the discipline is coming along. It’s a work in progress, but I am very slowly getting better at it,… or, em,…at least my first week has been pretty good. For starters, I spend a fair amount of time each night scrutinizing my schedule for the next day. I go over and over it like I’m prepping for a bank heist. It’s got to be focused, it’s got to be realistic, and it’s got to be 8 hours.

Now for my inspiration of the week: Clint EastwoodOuch

For those of you who didn’t pick up the December issue of GQ (like any of my readers would miss that! OMG did you see that 5k Tom Ford suit Kobe was wearing? WTF! So cool!) there was a great interview with “the only guy alive who makes you envy crow’s feet,” Clint Eastwood, who apparently was a late bloomer in most everything he did, including acting, directing, fathering children, and eventually winning oscars.

To read the full article, click here

I like reading about people like this, people who to be sure, had a fair degree of talent but more than that, people who set there eyes on a goal and were determined to get there no matter how long it took. Yeah sure, those who rocket into success at an early age are rare and therefore “special” (not even in text can I hide my bitter envy of natural talent) but those who continue to work on their craft well past the accepted “expiry date” of a rising star? Well, I think they’re equally rare and at the end often have more character and maturity in the work they produce. Hell, just look two of the all-time jazz greats: Charlie Parker and John Coltrane.

Now be honest, what jazz musician out there doesn’t relish in the fact that both Bird and Trane kinda sucked for quite some time before their perseverance led the way to their brilliance? Right?… That’s what I thought. And yes, that makes me a little small, and yes, it makes me feel better about myself but I’ll take comfort where I can get it thank you very much!

In other music news, I’m rediscovering Louis Armstrong‘s Hot 5 and Hot 7 recordings and digging on Johnny Dodds’ work more than I ever did before. Also, listened to Sidney Bechet’s “Blue Horizon” again the other day,… wow. Nobody plays like that anymore.

I think my composition/arranging goal for this semester is to expand on the “Tribute To The Great Clarinetists” show I did last year. Instead of just a sextet, I’ll arrange the music for the 10-tet here at McGill. Then I’ll learn some of these classic clarinet solos (like Blue Horizon) and kind of “frame” them with my arrangements. It won’t be that creative from an improvising point of view but it’ll be good arranging experience and will help me to get deeper understanding of the music of the “great ones.”

Of course, true to form, I come up with this idea once I’m already a quarter way through the semester,… awesome.

Well, times a wastin’, time to arrange some hot tunes!

Thanks for reading and have a great week everyone! jd

  • Judge Funkhaus

    Perservance will lead to brillance in one form or another, even if it is not in the way that motivates the perserverence to begin with! Speak on Brother James!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!