Well, with Christmas parties, end-of-the-year gatherings and general holiday splendor in full swing, it’s been a crazy busy week in my world and I’m sure any gigging singer or musician can say the same. After all, tis the season! ☺ With all the music and memorization, my head is full of trivial musical data that I may never use again…and some of which I hope I don’t have to use again!
But, in the midst of all the musical mayhem, I’ve had an amazing time connecting with friends and swapping funny stories. It’s one of my favorite things about being around other musicians. There’s such an inherent kinship because, even with the craziest of stories and situations, we all can relate on some level. Sometimes, that can bring the greatest amount of comfort in the midst of insurmountable stress.
Just recently, in conversation with friends, we were discussing the frustration when a client becomes so accustomed to the quickly thrown-together demo version of a song that they can’t come to appreciate the newer, tastier version of the song that they spent much more time, effort and money creating. We’ve come to affectionately refer to this as “demo-itus”.
To give a little background: in the recording industry, a song is not merely written and recorded. It goes through a series of tiny steps, all of which I won’t need to explain for the purpose of this story. However, the basics are that a song is first conceived through a simple idea that turns into written lyric, which is then matched to a melody. The ideas are then quickly tracked with simple instrumentation and sometimes lackluster vocal demonstration, then sent off to be fully produced by a pro who can best understand the styling and concept of the original song idea.
However, sometimes the writer becomes so attached to the original demo that they just can’t swallow any changes, even if those changes will ultimately take the song to the next level.
This is frustrating for everyone involved but also a bit confusing. How could anyone prefer the cheaper and sometimes non-professional version of the song? Why wouldn’t they fall madly in love the version that has perfectly matched vocal harmonies accompanied by world-renowned musicians and a smokin-hot track? Why wouldn’t a professional’s tweaks and sound advice be perfectly appreciated?
After much thought and discussion, it was decided that this must be because the person has grown accustomed to the old sound. It’s not necessarily that they like that version better, but they are so used to it that the sound of the demo has become intrinsic to the song. In their minds, even though they don’t want it to be the “final version”, it is their only understanding of the “final version”. Therefor, it’s harder to recognize the positive changes because they are still hung up on the fact that it’s changed at all.
This concept has haunted my brain since my friends and I first discussed it. Partly because I can relate on some musical level to the client and partly because…unfortunately, I can relate far too much in other areas of my life as well. How many times have I grown so accustomed to the mediocre in life that I couldn’t even recognize the incipience of something spectacular? How many times have I overlooked the ideal to settle for the “comfortable” or the “familiar”? Even the littlest, everyday changes can trip me up so much that I can barely react or function…even if the changes are for the better.
With New Years just around the corner and all those consequent changes lurking silently in the shadows of the Christmas Season, I think it’s a good time to take a good look at your surroundings and prepare yourself to step outside of them. Maybe where you are now isn’t where you want to be forever. Maybe the familiarity isn’t worth the fight against change. Maybe change can be a good thing.
The point is, we can’t stay where we are. We can’t grow to become too comfortable with our current surroundings. Whether we like it or not, change will find us and we get to decide how it will affect us. I believe that many of us are facing a fork in the road: to grow and move forward by taking a different path or to fall backwards and fail by clinging to the old, familiar path.
I hope and pray that you will embrace the growing pains and choose the unfamiliar; that you will take the journey of faith and find hope, healing and restoration on the new and unmarked path. And I pray that in this season, and the seasons to come, that you will learn to recognize and embrace good changes, learn to live in the unfamiliar and learn to love it.