I told you we were going to have fun here next time and I hate to disappoint people. Everybody bring their party pants? Oh, good. Yep, today – in a blatant attempt to crash the old L2P servers, we’re talking about sex. As in Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll. But you already know about the other two, and they’re kind of passé now, so we’ll stick to sex.
So…in order to get this conversation rolling, we have some business to get out of the way. Hi. I’m gay. Oh, good. I’m glad, that’s out of the way. Not that it matters, but I hate having to make up stories and pronouns and bullshit that has nothing to do with reality in order to talk to people. It’s so un-musician-like. And not really my style at all.
And though I do realize that the majority of readers here at L2P are straight men who might find that exciting in itself, I’m going to promise you that the gay part really has no real bearing on this blog at all. After all, I’m one of you. I like microphones, and discussions about compression ratios, and geeking out on all kinds of new gear and software. I will take an 18-hour day in the studio over any day laying by the pool in a heartbeat. If I liked football, we might even spend Super Bowl Sunday together. But I don’t. And I’ve only recently graduated to guacamole and beer on the couch with my girlfriend on the big day randomly having chosen a team based on either a.) where they are located in the country or b.) how much we like their uniform colors. I sometimes choose a team based on whether one of their players has dreadlocks. Go figure. Anyway…on with the sex part.
Since I went to Catholic school, sex education was a requirement. Some people probably don’t know that, but in Catholic high schools, “parenting” and “human sexuality” classes are used as a means of convincing young people not to have sex till they’re married. Mostly, it doesn’t work. Although the parenting one where you have to carry around a five pound sack of flour for a week everywhere you go was semi-eye opening to some teens who probably hadn’t thought much about what having a baby was really all about. My sack of flour survived, but the real topper was that my genius of a church lady mother started pimping me out at 12 as a babysitter to everyone under the sun, so by high school I had a pretty clear idea of what parenting was all about and I wasn’t really interested. I liked being able to spend all my extra time on music. I was at least smart enough to know that as a dumb teen – gay or not.
A highlight of my Human Sexuality class was one particular lesson by Mrs. Murphy, a young, attractive but staunch Catholic who had met and married her high school sweetheart, had already been married ten years, and had six kids. It was “sex is recreation” speech day.
“I know everyone thinks that when you have sex, the earth moves, or the heavens open, or there are fireworks…but I’m going to tell you the truth,” she told the class. “Sex…is recreation. It’s like going to the movies or watching TV. After awhile, it’s a little mundane and sometimes even a little boring.”
Of course, most of us didn’t believe her. Sex was still a largely unexplored territory and we were the newly released Amerigo Vespucci’s of our time. No one was gonna get in the way of our conquests. So like all people, we went, we saw, we conquered. In my case, after years of torment about how to break being gay to my parents, I embarked on an endless string of dating, drama, relationships, and address changes.
Ahh…youth. Wasted on people who haven’t been to therapy yet.
Once having explored all kinds of sex and sexual positions and toys and creams and partners and chocolate flavored lotions and do-dads that clip here and connect there and plug into the wall, I felt a little cheated of my time and money to find out that mostly…Mrs. Murphy was totally right.
The coup de grace (that’s “final blow” to the non-French) came one night when I was with this seriously gorgeous girl in bed and all I could think about was how bloody bored out of mind I was. Of course, you don’t tell some hot girl that. You’ve got to kind of move on. So I did. And thought the rest of the night mostly about all the things on my musical plate that week that I would really have preferred to work on. And cleaning the bathroom. And whether I had remembered to put gas in my car for the following morning. It was kind of eye-opening.
In our culture, we make a big deal about sex. It’s like the Holy Grail that you can magically find over and over again. If you listen to TV, read any kind of magazine, or go to any movie made in America, then…well…you know…there is nothing better on the planet than a good orgasm. In fact, it’s so great that it should solve all the world’s problems. Don’t exactly know why that hasn’t quite happened yet, but maybe it’s just around the corner. It’s clear that everyone is having a lot of it, but nobody seems to know much about why, or more importantly, why we think our lives depend on it, or that we can find some kind of real life satisfaction in it.
Right about now, you think I’m wandering, but really I’m not. And I’m not talking about this just to send you running to your favorite online porn site. I have a point. And it’s this:
In your youth, sex may seem like something that you have all the time in the world for. It dominates a tremendous amount of our attention span, and our energy, and our schedules. And, at times, it can just completely take over our lives.
But the problem for musicians is when it comes to our careers, we’ve been gifted with the most effed up model one could ever hope to have. In your youth, just as you are about to hit a period of great personal sexual discovery, just when your hormones are at full tilt, and you’re ready to try everything, just when you can’t think of anything you’d rather do than lay in bed most of the day with a naked stranger…just then, you are also supposed to magically keep all your shit together, make great music, be stellar at what you do, and build a mind-blowing career out of the artistic wasteland that is the current music market.
For musicians, the expiration date on this career is, for lack of a better word, SOON. Realistically, you have a solid five years between 20 and 25. You can stretch another 5 by lying, if nature has been good to you. By 30, you can kiss it all goodbye. Musicians, supermodels, athletes – all part of the Impossible Achievers club. Put down that porn, brother. You have way too much work to do. Time keeps on slippin’ into the future.
This is obviously, highly effed up. And totally unfair. And the reason that many of us never really achieve what we want to as artists in our short artistic lives. We don’t really have a lifetime to work with. In the eyes of the public, we have a few brief years when we are, if we’re really honest, at our most stupid. Filled with hormones that exhibit the same power as any illegal substance out there, we flounder in a world where there is no 12-step program for those who fail. And many, many, many of us do fail. At least “fail” in the way that society defines success for us (which is the topic of another blog – I promise you).
This, my friend, is your career on sex.
If I look back honestly at my life thus far in music, I have gotten a whole lot done. But, over the years, I also wasted a truckload of time. Much of it on sex, or the pursuit of it. More of it on the screwed up relationship I shouldn’t have been in that resulted from sex. And the most on doing things for people that I shouldn’t have done because we ended up in a relationship because we had sex. And I consider myself lucky. I’ve never had a venereal disease (read: more wasted time on fixing it and dealing with it and moving past it).
I won’t claim to understand the vast power of testosterone and why it has the effects it does on the male gender. I’ve spent the better part of my life trying to understand it. Sometimes I wish I had more of it myself. Other days, I’m really happy I don’t.
But I have never envied the ongoing onslaught of sexual absorption that it brings many of my friends and fellow musicians. Having been there done that, even as a non-male, I guess I see the slow sexual decay that comes with growing older as something of a relief. Older, wiser, perhaps a little hormone deprived, having paid my good money for therapy and learned a whole hell of a lot from it, I’m no longer likely to waste a whole week of desperately needed musical creation/expansion time in bed. I figured out years ago that an orgasm, even if it was great, never satisfied the musician in me. That required working on my art and building a life in music I could really feel good about.
It took years of mistakes to see through a life of perpetual sexual discovery. Truthfully, I wish I had the time back. Would I be famous? Not sure. And not important. Would I be a better musician? Absolutely. Without a doubt.
So here’s the punch line to this little online party: live, love, laugh, and by all means, party your sexual appetite like it deserves to be partied. But don’t forget that at the end of your life, you will never regret not having done the things you do all the time. You’ll only regret the things you have neglected.
And if you’re a musician – a real musician - driven by your talents, obsessed with your art, and never really interested in putting down your instrument, the search for the next greatest orgasm is really not YOUR Holy Grail.
So…who brought the cheap tequila? One of us is definitely gonna need to go get some more limes…