Editorial: Pompous Ass or Cosmopolitan?
I’m stuck in my usual rut. A rut of watching superhero cartoons. I know this is a rut that you think you can’t identify with, but believe me, it’s a rut we all have. It’s not the cartoons that are the issue, it’s the comfort they represent.
I could go into my history and how at a point in my life I was reawakened by Batman the Animated Series, but the point is really that we all have comfort areas. And I’ve noticed that we, or at least I have them in creating as well. It was a lesson I learned in music, but need to be reminded of when creating in general.
In 1966, I went down to Greenwich Village, New York City to a rock club called Electric Banana. Don’t look for it; it’s not there anymore… not really, but I used to play in a band called the Roy Battys. We were a group of joe’s that liked to play music à la the pixies kinda (it’s hard to categorize one’s own creations).
In the Roy Battys there was a guitarist named Bill. We had played with Bill a bit in another band where he played keyboard, but we’d not heard much of him on guitar. Bill was a quiet guy and we used to joke about how we met him. Another bandmate, Jeremy and I had a bit of a party pad where we would put on shows. Bill would come over, sit on the couch, say next to nothing while drinking a six pack, and then he’d head home. This went on for weeks until Jeremy and I finally said to one another, “Looks like we’re friends with Bill.”
Well, Bill as a guitarist ended up being bafflingly creative and diverse with his guitar parts. And, not that creative kind where they play anything perfect, it was that truly creative kind where other things were played through the filter of Bill. They all sounded like different Bills from different realities.
I would ask myself, “How did this unassuming man get such a wide breadth of creativity?” When I saw his music collection I knew why. At the time I mainly listened to Punk, Industrial, a smattering of 50s rock and roll, and a bit of 90s alternative… and that was it. Bill’s music spanned genres and decades, clicks and centuries. And, of course, I knew then that was how he did it. He immersed himself in everything musically, more marinated in it than studied it. He was a cosmopolitan, at least by a 20 year-old’s standards.
Obviously the point here is that we have to leave our superhero cartoon comfort and safety zones to challenge ourselves more creatively, but we also have to not be “all or nothing”. Bill had his limits. He didn’t listen to Celeion Dion cuz it just wasn’t his jam. But there are many places I can go that are just outside my zone, or places that I loved before but don’t return to often enough. I can check out new genres that run parallel to some old ones I liked. In fact I started out writing this with a real question in my mind, the question was, “Does diversifying my interests on purpose make me a pompous ass or a cosmopolitan?” But, then I remembered Bill and I know the answer. It makes me a cosmopolitan. So, I’m gonna do more of that, and I suggest you do the same.