FROM THE PRESIDENT
How many of you have ever seen or participated in a rodeo? Now, you’re probably wondering what this has do with songwriter, but we will get there. When I was serving overseas, I signed up with the (European Rodeo Cowboy Association (ERCA). My friend from Hollis, OK, was big in the rodeo circuit here in the States and he needed a team for the “Wild Horse Chase” event.
This event consisted of a three person team - the anchor, the mugger, and the rider. The anchor holds the rope with the horse on the other end. The mugger puts the bridle on the horse, and the rider has to mount the horse and ride it pass the finish line. Well, due to my size and strength - I was the anchor. I thought holding a rope with a wild horse on the other end would be a breeze. Being raised on a farm the most vicious thing I ever had to deal with was a goose that hated me. Three horses and three chances for success? I loved the odds.
The first horse tried to intentionally kill us all and I discovered horses are really big when they are coming at you feet first and angry. The second horse was released from the gate and took off like a bullet taking my arms with it at the end of the rope (at least it felt that way). I guess my 200 lbs. was no match for the animal.
The third and last horse was ready for release and I thought of a new tactic. I would gently talk to the horse. After all, I’m sure he or she was scared and just needed some reassurance and kind words. But, I was determined to hold the rope to the best of my ability to get a qualifying score. They opened the gate and I began my banter with the horse. It seemed to be working. The horse raised its head three or four times, but it didn’t rear up to kill us like the first one. Did I discover the secret? Was I the new “Horse Whisperer”?
My friend from Hollis was the mugger and he approached very carefully and put on the bridle. I kept talking throughout the process and knew in my heart we were going to score. The bridle was in place and it was time for the rider to mount and ride to the finish line. The trophy was ours and I imagined myself being hoisted on the shoulders of our competitors and carried around the ring in triumph. Funny how things don’t work out like you planned.
As soon as the rider mounted, this sweet, innocent, caring little mare transformed into a demon from the planet of Death. She threw the rider, ran over my friend from Hollis, and began dragging me through the muck and mud. I held the end of the rope hoping she would stop and she plowed the arena with my head. Finally, she made a sharp turn and I continued to roll in the other direction. I was covered in who knows what when I stood up, but I did find my hat. Of course, my wife was still laughing after it was over and ask me “why didn’t you just let go of the rope”? And this my friends, brings me to my point.
In songwriting, as in life, we hit the wall. We become frustrated, uninspired, lazy, tired, and excuse ridden. We start a song and give up. We try to force ourselves to sit down and write and hours later we are staring at a blank piece of paper or something worse. We believe every song we create should be a masterpiece and continue to pressure ourselves until it is no longer any fun. We have our songs evaluated by others and when we receive constructive suggestions, we take it personal. The list goes on and on.
Sometimes we just need to “let go of the rope” and take control of our own emotions. We are all humans with elements of feelings which dictate who we are and how we react. Songwriters, musicians, and performers have a unique gift. Whether we do it for fun, personal growth, or to write the next big hit - we must approach our craft from a human standpoint. So, the next time you are feeling overwhelmed by your circumstances or you can’t find that perfect verse or chorus - relax and “let go of the rope”. Walk away, take control, and fight for it another day. It’s better than being dragged around by a wild horse. Just something to think about.