A LESSON FROM CORONA, KENNY AND KOBE

Growing up my dad loved the oldies as well as a little country music.  I could stomach the oldies, I even enjoyed a few songs.  The country – not so much.  Kenny Rogers was a household name, my dad loved the guy!  But now my dad is dead.  In fact, Kenny Rogers is dead.  He died of natural causes 2 days ago.  As a young child you don’t think about death.  It felt like my dad would live forever.  It felt like Kenny would live forever.  It felt like I would live forever.  By the way,  I wonder how many people will get a Kenny Rogers tattoo?

Kobe Bryant died a few weeks ago.  I watch as much basketball as I listen to country music (zero) – combine that with my stoic nature, and you’re looking at someone who simply wasn’t as shocked as the rest of the world.  Of note, I found it baffling how many people came out of the woodworks to get Kobe tribute tattoos (but that’s a discussion for another time). 

Today, the news is reporting that the Corona virus doubled in a week to surpass 300,000 cases (add another 17,309 at the time of writing this).  Currently 13,671 deaths have resulted from the virus.  That’s a lot of tattoos!  (Maybe start investing in ink and needles instead of toilet paper – but I digress.)

I am going to die.  You are going to die.  Someone you love is going to die.  Maybe not from a helicopter crash, maybe not from a virus, but die we must.

Sometimes I ask people how long they think they will live and how they think their life will end.  When the question is reciprocated I answer, “cancer.”  But my answer changed today.

Here’s a prediction for you – you will die just like Kenny Rogers – of natural causes.  I too will die like Kenny Rogers.  We will all die like Kenny Rogers.  Everything is a “natural cause.”  It doesn’t matter if it’s a helicopter crash or a virus, cancer or a gun, drowning or electrocution, hanging from a tree or hanging on a cross.  It’s all natural.  It’s part of mortality’s condition.  Whether you suffer or go in peace, have your life taken by another person or take it yourself, it’s still the same result – DEATH. 

THE CHALLENGE:  Take a lesson from Corona, Kenny and Kobe.  The virus isn’t even dead yet and there are ALREADY a bunch of tattoos for that thing (Google if you don’t believe me).  Live your life valiantly.  Do what you love and be the best at it.  Leave your mark (pun intended).  Be unforgettable.  Measure yourself by the number of people who measure themselves by you.  COVID-19 changed everything in a week, you can make decisions to change your life just as fast.  Will you make the changes you want to see or continue to procrastinate?  Think about it.  Corona gets the job done because Corona doesn’t procrastinate – another 1,247 confirmed cases just in the time it took me to write this.  Go do something.  Make a change.

Try to Lose Some Sleep

1986 Changed my life. I remember being exposed to the Beastie Boys’ album “Licensed to Ill.” I didn’t know what half of the lyrics meant. I didn’t understand to what degree the vulgarity extended. There was something in the beat and feeling of the music that spoke to me. I could ignore the lyrics, but I couldn’t ignore the genre.  I could scarcely listen to anything else.

My world of make believe included hours and hours of rapping in my mind. I wasn’t really “rapping” – I had no command of the English language. I would pretend I was on stage in front of thousands of fans. My verses had a ton of repetition using only the handful of words I could get to rhyme…but my “fans” didn’t seem to mind so I kept my songs on repeat (therein lies a great lesson – maybe for another day).

I grew up on East Coast “Boom Bap” Hip Hop (so VERY different from today’s mainstream sound). I loved the “underground” scene where rappers (properly referred to as emcees) did it strictly for the love. Money and fame didn’t matter, but authenticity and originality did.  I wanted nothing more than to be “that guy.”

Unfortunately, it was out of my reach. I was too poor and wouldn’t even know where to begin even if I did have a few bucks. I made my first track with a kid down the street from me in 1997. He had a pretty decent home studio that he set up in his bedroom. He made a quick beat and we both sang over it. I’m embarrassed by it now, but it was so cool back then. More than ever I knew that someday I would have my own home studio.

I started in 2014 with a few iPad apps. I was amazed at how far technology had come! In 2015 I got a midi keyboard (MPK49) and FL Studio software (it had come a long way since 97′) but I didn’t fall in love with it. A month or two passed and I purchased a “Maschine Mikro” by Native Instruments. This was MUCH closer to what I was looking for. The studio continued to grow, turntable, audio interface, microphone, mixer, crates of records and studio monitors (speakers). Many days consisted of a short 10-30 minute session of sampling a record, chopping it into a beat and laying over some drums, some days I scored, other days I failed miserably, but I rarely took my foot off the gas. I learned a TON, but I knew I was just scratching the surface.

My Maschine Mikro served me well. But as of last month, it is in “nursing home status” – ready to die. After many, many hours of playing, the buttons now stick (as expected for an entry level product). Which brings me to today. Meet Ableton Live w/Push 2.

Bose

When I make a large purchase I study it out carefully. I sleep on it. I debate. I consider every option from every angle. I downloaded every major DAW (digital audio workstation) and took them for a test drive in an effort to find the next adjacent step for my musical growth.

Ableton Live came last. I had ZERO hope that I would want this DAW.  But, none of the others really impressed me, so I had to try it. Boy, was I wrong! I knew within the first five minutes that this would be my present and future platform for music production.

THE APPLICATION: We have a sign hanging in our home that reads, “DO WHAT YOU LOVE.” I strive diligently to apply this. I have learned a better way to explain it. “DO WHAT KEEPS YOU UP AT NIGHT.” Music production gets me excited, to the point that I can hardly sleep. It makes my heart beat faster. It makes me happy to know I am making my own dream a reality. I want to give back to the underground scene everything I took from it and more. I want to keep it alive because it is so much a part of who I am.

THE CHALLENGE: What gets you so excited that you can’t sleep at night? What activity do you do that causes you to skip eating because of deep satisfaction? Find it, do it, commit to it! Doing the thing that keeps you awake at night will add a new and unbelievable dimension to your life. Stop procrastinating!