I had a conversation with a younger person the other day, we were talking about the concept of Wage Slavery, and how most people don’t really conceptualize their lives in that context, but that it does apply to many, (and in recent years more and more) of us.
He had an interesting take on it, a difference in how he saw it that I hadn’t ever really seen, and that was that we are SELLING our lives to someone when we go to work for them. He saw that more in the case where someone joins a long term type of job, like a corporation or a law firm, any kind of job that is a long term, possibly even life long commitment.
The point for him was that if most people saw the work that they do to earn money in this light, they would immediately begin to question whether or not they were getting fair value for essentially selling your life to someone else, and whether that is a good use of your life.
Now obviously most people aren’t thinking of it in those terms, and as obviously there’s a clear need to have money in our society in order to function within it, as without money you’re going to have a pretty rough time eating and keeping a roof over your head, tho alternatively you could go live in the woods somewhere scrounging for food like Davy Crockett and wrestling bears if you’d rather.
So thinking about your career in THOSE terms, that you’re selling your life, essentially so that someone else can become even richer, that’s a really clear way to look at the value you derive from working in that way, and I think it’s pretty good discussion to have with yourself.
Money, being the man-made fiction that it is, has no ACTUAL value, only the percieved value society has assigned to it, and we all sort of “agree” to assign it that value and operate under that agreement.
But what happens to the other values that make up the experience of being human? Like, what’s the money value of watching your child being born, or the “value” in dollars of a sunset, or hearing your child’s honest clear laughter, or any number of feelings and experiences that are the essence of being a human? While society has a tendency to rate ALL of our lives in terms of dollars, I don’t think any of us would say that there’s a money number that makes sense in those contexts.
So why are we only valuing what we do as work in that way? Are we only experiencing our lives in one way by using that metric as the main way to measure our lives? What about all the things that we can’t attach a dollar figure to?
I think it’s a good point to consider when we go to work for someone else and sell them our lives…
God, no shit.
Thankfully I think my circle of friends and musicians is of a high enough caliber in both ability and SENSIBILITY that I have seen very little of this kind of crappy nonsense, and if I had I would have gone very far in a boot wearing expedition up someone’s ass.
These people are all actually PEOPLE, and if you think that they are elevated above being human because of the heights they’ve reached in their careers, your ignorance is profound and your imagination is challenged and stunted….it’s sad to understand what a monochrome blur your life must be like….
Having worked with 3 of the Hotel California-era Eagles, I’ll tell you one thing for certain, they are ALL the best version of the thing they are that will ever be, Glenn the best Glenn Frey, Joe the best Joe Walsh, and Don the best Don Felder that there will ever be, and that’s NOT nothing.
2 of the best guitar players/songwriters in popular music EVER, and one of the best singer/songwriters in popular music EVER, with a body of music that has reached into the lives of almost every person in Western culture on an almost daily basis, to the point that when you hear the music YOU know every damn word….?!?!?! Music YOU may not even like, sure, and that’s fine, but you gotta admit when it has that kind of impact across the geography and timespan that it has, it’s fucking GREAT, you just don’t get it.
That’s not nothing.
These guys can play their asses off, write their asses off, sing their asses off, arrange/record/produce their asses off, and in Glenn’s case LEAD his ass off leading one of the biggest bands EVER….they are BAD ASSES, all of them!!.
Go do THAT, and then talk shit…I’ll wait….
But….they’re all ALSO just people, with their foibles, demons, ticks, itches, relationships, children, problems, illnesses and now even death, just like anyone, doing anything.
I don’t know, I read that piece and realized maybe I’ve been kinda glossing over it whenever I see someone slagging about this, knowing that it’s just ignorant childish creepiness that’s not worth engaging one on one…had this reaction, felt like saying something…
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. As a musician it’s tricky to understand what we do in the context of money and meaning. Lately I’m finding it much more useful to think of it in terms of how well I do it, and how much it brings to others.
In that context, playing for not much money in some bar just kinda anywhere starts to take on a lot more meaning and value. People are enjoying their time together watching others do something they can’t really do, in a setting that allows and/or validates their feelings….being brought together to feel something that can’t be had alone at home with your tv and your bottle, it’s GOOD for people to do that, and not be alone.
People come up all the time to share how they feel about what they’ve just seen/experienced, and I think we as musicians forget what a gift that is….that they have felt something so powerfully that they need to come up and tell us about it, even to a total stranger who just stepped off the stage, even at the risk of being rebuffed or ignored…. and it’s hard to just walk up to someone and bare your soul, even a little, but they trust us to hear them, because they know we MUST understand, because we just did it!
Yes, maybe we hear it all the time, but for them, it’s special, and it’s NOW, and it really matters to them.
It has nothing to do with money, it has nothing to do with MOST valuations that are recognized as valid measures of what we do, but maybe it’s the most important thing of all, and we should pay a lot more attention to it, I think we would be happier and maybe even better people for it.
I’ve been wanting for a while now to use this very cool little app on my iPhone called Splice, and today this event happened and I decide to use it as a test case.
This whole thing was kinda sad actually, all the crows raising hell outside and the cat being driven off by what I imagine were the parents of the trapped crow…then all the other crows coming around and the feel of the whole thing changing drastically…you wouldn’t believe how creepy it got, really fast….The Birds movie etc…there was a lot of them you can’t really see…
“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
I think we’re failing this test….miserably.