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1,296 and counting...but who's counting? 

At some point during the summer of last year, one of my best friends (and also the one who helped me get the album finished, financially) had me over for dinner at his house out in Jonestown.  He’s got a thick east coast accent, someone whom I trust a great deal, and also know who is very proud whenever he introduces me to his friends.  He’s also got a great sense of humor and knows how to put things in perspective.  During that dinner, where it was only he and I, I confessed to him that I was a terrible overthinker.   

He immediately came back with the greatest line I’ve heard, and have since used plenty of times, anecdotally.  “Look, Brent,” (and again, picture this with a deep, bass/baritone New England Patriots fan dialect) “if there were were an Olympic event for over fuckin’ thinkin, I’d either be on the podium or be the fuckin’ coach” :) 

I don’t know why that resonated so well with me, but it’s pretty easy to figure out when I think about it.  He’s a great friend, I trust him immensely, wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am now without him, and in that second he reminded me that I wasn’t the only one that did it. 

It’s been cold here in Texas the last few days.  And, as such, I haven’t been able to drive in to work due to the road conditions.  Living in Colorado for a while, not a big deal.  Living back in Texas, the whole state shuts down, and for good reason - we’re just not as prepared or used to it here as it would be if I were back there.  So, I’ve had a lot of time on my hands to write new songs the last day and a half, and will have even more of it in the next few days.  My job is also not-at-all stressful, but a bit repetitive and I have to use my hands a lot.  But when I’m listening to my airpods, I’m getting all kinds of great ideas that it’s not hard to stop for a quick moment, write the idea down on my iPhone, and get a general song down.  Basically, no matter where I am these days, it's not hard at all for me to come up with a song idea and try to write it down in some form.  Finishing it?  Well, yeah, that's where it gets a bit more complicated.  

It's during those moments where my inner critic has stopped, I don’t self-edit during the process, and I try to be as genuine as I possibly can so the creative muse can work through me before the automatic over-thinker has a chance to intervene.  I’ve been writing down song ideas for so long that my instinct, for a while, was always trying to box my songs into what would be radio-friendly.  To stop yourself, creatively and internally, in the middle of writing a song is very much contrary to the whole process of songwriting, and I was doing that for years.  And it sucked.  Big time.  Of course, I didn’t realize I was doing it because I thought everyone else was doing it too, and it was all part of the norm of what you had to do to be a successful artist in country music.  So, at the time, it didn’t matter.  Except it did.   

For all that time, I just wrote and wrote and wrote so many song thoughts, ideas, fragments, titles, and hooks that when I finally started to count them all up last August, I had tallied up 1,253 new original ideas.  That was back almost a year ago.  Now I’m up to almost 1300.  And as I’m finishing this entry, I’m listening to a live recording of Walt and Tina Wilkins playing tonight at Schoepf’s BBQ in a Facebook video providing me even more inspiration.   

There’s still plenty of times, my friends, where I’ve had doubts, fears, uncertainty and all of that other shit that comes along of taking a big risk and following your heart not just once or twice, but several times.  Vegas would love the odds they’ve had on me over the years.  Sounds like a good song idea, but I think the late great Doug Supernaw said it better. 

Couldn’t roll me a 7, if you gave me loaded dice.

Hurry up and wait 

I’m so anxious to get back out on the road playing full band shows again, I can hardly stand it.  There’s so much going on over here, behind the scenes that, once things start to settle down and venues begin to open up again, it’s going to be a lot of fun for all of you, and for me.   

But, for now, we all have to wait.  I know, it’s hard.  Trust me.  The overall mentality of everyone I’ve talked to, inside and outside of the music industry, is that we’re all tired of the restrictions and want life to get back to normal as we approach the 1 year mark when things started to shut down.  I was having conversations with some of my fellow musicians on Sunday, and it was the first time I’d seen many of them in 3-4 years.  And we were all pretty much in the same mentality, that we’re all ready to get back out there and start performing for the fans again, and it’s not a question of ‘want’ but one of ‘can’t’.   

As I sit here and type this, my car has been in the shop for a week and a half for a warranty repair from the dealership in Colorado, who is going back and forth with Pep Boys about what they’re wanting to pay for.  I’m coming up on the 1 year anniversary of my separation from my last job, and about to head out to the one I’m at now where I’m making nearly 80% less than I was then, and really struggling to get my bills paid.   

So, this entry could be considered a reminder to you, but also to me that we’re all going to look back at this very soon and remember it as being something in the past.  And we’ll all be able to say to each other things like ‘wow, I can’t believe we had to go through that for so long’, and ‘I wasn’t sure we’d be able survive’, but we did.  And we will.  And we can.   

See, it’s all about how you frame things and put them in perspective.  Am I happier now that I’ve embraced the fact that I’ll always be a musician, chasing that dream of mine?  You bet your ass, I am!  Could things be easier if I were back making all that money again?  Of course they could, but I would still be convincing myself even today that it was all worth giving up on my passion, just so I could live a little more comfortably while also being alone, miserable and unhappy with where I was headed.   

I’ll share a bit of a personal story with you before I wrap up this entry to get ready to head out for the day.  I’ve known Roy Granados, who is now my manager, for a long time now, and he’s the one that’s really pushing and encouraging me to get outside of the comfort zone and break out of the bubble I’ve been in for the last several years.  He and I have known each other well and have continued our friendship since the days where he was managing a club called Rumor’s down in Laredo.  He's also I guy that I know I can trust, considering what we've gone through together during our friendship.  There have been plenty of times over the years where he always had my back, even during the times where it would've been easy for him to walk away.  The music business is full of people who will abuse your trust and try to manipulate you. Roy isn't one of those guys.

It was also pretty funny, too where I was on my way to fly back to Colorado last year to start packing up my apartment and I was watching TV and drinking a beer at the Salt Lick bar at the airport.  I struck up a conversation with some oil field guys while waiting for our respective flights, and they all knew Roy, Rumor’s and remembered seeing me perform there.  It’s a damn small world, my friends. 

Last Saturday he and I had one of our many long conversations we’ve had over the last year, and he told me he has a lot of things planned for me.  Considering where my state of mind has been during that time, he really had to work hard to convince me that this would work, and that wasn’t easy.  Remember, I had convinced myself for almost 3 years, regularly, that my full time job was now how the rest of my life was going to be and music, while a great after thought, was no longer possible.  That’s not an easy mind-frame to break out of, I assure you.  I had no evidence that things were going to change.  Until they did.  And they continue to, so when we spoke last weekend, it really resonated with me that this time, things were going to be different.  And the very next day, I genuinely felt the power and the camaraderie during an amazing memorial ceremony surrounded by some of my musical heroes, honoring one of our collective musical heroes and being reminded by all of them that things were, and are going to get better for us all.  

We just have to keep hanging in there.  Even if it means holding on to that one last burning ember.  That one small sliver of the piece of faith, endurance, perseverance and hope that we’ve all been so desperate to barely hang on to.  It’s still there and I’m finally beginning to believe that again. 

And I promise if my jaded, worn out, stubborn, hard headed, skeptical ass can manage to accomplish that you can too. 

Hang in there my friends.  Hit me up anytime if you need a friend, want some encouragement or just want to say hi.  I’m always listening. 

Have a great day! 

-brent
brent@brentallen.net