Some people are born into their thing. I’ve calculated that my sister and I did our ten thousand hours of singing in the car with our Mama before we were even close to grown.
That doesn’t make us geniuses, but it gives us a certain confidence about doing the thing that we were born into which is, without a doubt, making music.
These past weeks I’ve immersed myself in making a record with Hayes Carll. He asked me to co-produce with Brad Jones and it’s the first time I’ve formally held the position. While I lack, sorely, any technical musical prowess, I know my way around a studio, a song, and a performance as much as it pains me to admit it (I’m female – I tend to downplay and underestimate my talents – but as a side note please let’s work on getting more women in the producing and engineering door). Lest I digress, my point in telling you all of this is to say that I saw a lot of dedication in human form come in and out of that studio while we were recording the record. There’s a reason why people travel from all over the world to make records in Nashville – the musicians who reside and work there are, across the board, simply the best that can be found. When I stand back and consider the talent I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by the past twenty-two years, and that I’ve been allowed to be a part of the music making business family as a whole, I am astonished. What a fortunate person am I to have been given a front row seat to witness mastery, sometimes on a daily basis. Some of these folks were born into their thing and came by it more easily than most could, but some of them were not and instead had their souls set on fire by something that made them want to pick up an instrument and master it. I love almost nothing more than a natural talent, but I have the utmost respect for a hard worker.
I said to someone recently that while it’s true that I do and have done a lot of different things in my professional life, I was aware of what it takes to be great and didn’t want to dilettante around at this or that, never giving myself a chance to become great at anything because I wasn’t disciplined or dedicated enough to stay the course. It took me a while to get to that way of thinking. It takes a lot of backbone and other things, such as reminders like the one I just described above, to think like that every day. Life’s too short to take halfhearted stabs. At some point, one must nail something to the wall.
PS – Thank you Connie Chornuk for the great photograph.