Here, listen to this song just for funsies:
from Black Radio (2012) by Robert Glasper Experiment
So I’ve been applying to a lot of jobs lately (specifically 120 jobs in the last six months, but who’s counting?). Now, I know I am very fortunate to have been able to endure six months of unemployment without being evicted from my apartment or, you know, starving to death. Not everyone has people they can rely on to help them out like I do. Still, the search for a job has been a rather discouraging and even confusing process. I think one of the reasons for this is that it’s forced me to really think about what exactly I want to be doing with my limited time here on Earth (what with the apocalypse being nigh and all).
Frankly, this isn’t something I’ve ever really given much thought to — in part because until fairly recently, I thought I had always known what I wanted to be when I grew up. Thanks to my obsession with Selena as a little kid, I actually have a specific memory of when I learned that it was possible to have a career as a singer: I asked my grandma one day, “What is Selena?” Using her magical Grandma powers to somehow understand what the heck I was talking about, she answered, “She’s a singer.” And the rest is history. Becoming a singer was honestly the only thing I ever wanted to do until about middle school when I started regularly writing songs, at which point I upgraded my life’s goal to becoming a singer/songwriter.
It’s not like I kept these dreams I had growing up secret, but it also wasn’t something I liked talking about much. For one thing, I was really shy as a kid and thought talking about anything even remotely personal was embarrassing; and for another thing, I was a pretty smart kid who always did well in school and thus felt obligated to aim higher. I was secretly disappointed in myself for merely wanting to be an artist instead of something more impressive and important-sounding like a lawyer. Even in college, when I started performing terribly in school, I struggled to reconcile my lifelong dreams of music with my increasingly social-justice-oriented mindset. I desperately wanted to do something to benefit humanity in some way, but I was still just a depressed music major who hardly had the energy to get out of bed every day, let alone put much serious thought into which career path I would most be able to work around my conflicting aspirations.
I’m worse at what I do best.
Now I find myself in somewhat of a creative rut where it’s been a good while since I’ve written any songs, and my voice is so out of practice I wonder if it ever really sounded that great in the first place. I certainly don’t intend to give up on my childhood dreams, but as I’m currently in need of an income, I’ve decided to try and pursue other media and entertainment industry career options that might be a little more sustainable for me. I recently applied to a job with a description that said things like, “You’ll be working alongside super talented individuals that will both inspire you and challenge you to think about music in ways you may not have imagined,” and it also included this Bono quote: “Music can change the world because it can change people.” One of the application questions even asked me who my favorite artists are at the moment. I figured this sounded like exactly the kind of place I would want to work, so I applied; when I got to the “Why do you want this role?” section of the application, this is the answer that I gave:
“When I was about nine years old, I threw a tantrum. I couldn’t tell you now what I was upset about, but it was bad enough to make me want to throw things. I wasn’t normally prone to violent outbursts, but that day I threw everything. Everything in my bedroom — the books on the shelf, the stuffed animals and pillows on the bed, the pens and notebooks on the desk — ended up in the middle of the floor because I was mad, and I wanted to throw things. Needless to say, my grandparents were furious with me and made me clean everything up.
Apparently cleaning my room that day was punishment enough, since that was the last time I ever took my anger out on my personal belongings and bedroom in that way. Instead, as my adolescent years rolled in, my primary psychological outlet was music. Any time I felt any kind of strong emotion (and at that age, all of my emotions were pretty strong), I went straight to my room, slammed the door, and turned up my music as loud as my ears could stand. Fortunately enough, my grandparents were more forgiving of this coping mechanism.
As an adult, I use music streaming and playlists in much the same way I used CDs, cassettes, and radio stations when I was a kid. It’s an outlet for me. Therapeutic, even. If I can be part of helping to create similarly meaningful experiences for others through music and online media, there’s nothing I’d love to do more. As for the quote above: music has been ingrained in my psyche and my entire life for as long as I can remember, and probably before I threw any kind of tantrum. It’s difficult to imagine any other ways there could possibly be to think about music. Still, I recognize that there is an entire world that I haven’t seen and many people whom I’ve yet to meet, and I’m ready to challenge myself. I’m ready to rise to the challenge.”
I knew giving such a wordy answer without explicitly advertising my relevant skills would be kind of a gamble, but I was feeling inspired, ok? I told you I’m in a rut, so I have to take advantage of creative energy surges whenever I can. And in case you’re wondering, I received a rejection email from the company a few days later. (Whatever, their loss, I’m clearly over it already. Frankly, I’m glad they responded at all, which is more than I can say for at least 75% of the companies I’ve applied to. Again, over it.) Even so, I’m pretty satisfied with the answer that I gave.
Here we are, now entertain us.
Writing that mini essay felt like I was finally outwardly expressing a realization I had been gradually coming to for a while. When I was younger and feeling stupid for legitimately wanting to be a rock star, it didn’t really occur to me that the positive impact music and entertainment has had on my life is proof enough that working in this sector can be meaningful on its own. I guess I was just stuck in this way of thinking of music/art/entertainment (whatever you want to call it) as not medically necessary to keep stomachs full and hearts pumping and therefore unimportant. I feel like listening to music or watching TV for their own sakes (and not just as background noise for when you’re doing “real” work) is generally seen as indulgent and unproductive. And look, even hearing the words “music industry” reminds me of just a few of the reasons why capitalism ruins everything. But the truth is that it’s the commercial entertainment industry that has brought me most of the music, movies, and TV shows that have gotten me through some of the darkest points in my life. That’s gotta be worth something, right?
Anyway, that profound realization is part of the reason why I wanted to start this blog, so that’s why I decided to share this with you. If you’ve actually read this far, I’ll leave you with another Robert Glasper Experiment gem as a symbol of my appreciation:
From ArtScience (2016)