Creativity: the fickle beast

An email exerpt from Moby to Bob Lefsetz:

i had a quasi-epiphany last year when i heard david lynch talking about creativity (and forgive me if this sounds new age or hokey).
he talked about how creativity in and of itself is great, and i realized that he was right.
and i realized that, ideally, the market should accomodate art, but that art shouldn’t accomodate the market.
i know, it sounds idealistic.
i had been trying to make myself happy and make radio happy and make the label happy and make press happy and etc.
and it made me miserable.
and i also don’t really aspire to selling too many records.
see, my friends who are writers sell 20,000 books and they’re happy.
my friends who are theater directors sell 5,000 tickets during a run and they’re happy.
i like the idea of humble and reasonable metrics for determining the success of a record.
and i like the idea of respecting the sacred bond that exists between musician and listener.
again, i know this sounds hokey, but it’s where i am at present.

This was forwarded to me by a close friend and I must admit that it floored me quite a bit. It goes on but this is the part that got to me. I fully realize that A) this is very idealistic and B) it’s a bit easier for Moby to follow this direction than it is for a less-famous-musician (cough cough). However, although I consider Salvador Dalimyself a Realist in many ways, you may say that I’m a Dreamer (but I’m not the only one… sorry had to say it). I also believe that you need to follow your creative muse whether it’s the popular thing or not. I haven’t always felt this way. I tried to play the game. I tried to force my creative outlet into the popular mold in a vain effort to get my proverbial foot in the door. It didn’t do me any favors and it certainly didn’t get my foot in many doors. As the great Bill Shakespeare once wrote “To thine own self be true”. This was hard for me to grasp. I didn’t burst from the womb with the self-confidence of Picasso. It was something I learned over time. When you chase the tail of fame, for the sole purpose of fame itself, you wind up only chasing your own. It’s a never ending cycle even if the desired “fame” is eventually reached.

Now I also believe that we all play the game to a point (there’s the Realist side coming out). If you’ve ever read anything about this history of Radiohead, arguably one of the most popular bands who are paving their own creative road, would know that even they have always played the game when necessary. Even today, having shed the shackles of their record label, you will still find them doing magazine interviews, performing on the Grammy’s, etc.. They certainly don’t have to. They could fall back on their Kid A format and just release albums via word of mouth and still live out a comfortable existence for the rest of their days. You just can’t forget to separate the game from the dream.

History has shown us that it’s the ones that follow the road less traveled, the ones that damn convention and dive-in head first that tend to make the largest splash. They’re also the ones that stand the test of time. Salvador Dali, e e cummings, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, Pablo Picasso, John Lennon – just some of my personal favorites that I believe hold true to this. Can you truly follow creativity for creativity’s sake? I, personally, am willing to give it a go.

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