I have been stingy. I have been making music for years, quietly in my basement, never sharing and rarely finishing anything. Music had become another form of isolation and a new way of being lonely.
Until yesterday, I hadn’t shared a completed piece of work with anyone in over a decade. From my mid-teens until the end of my twenties my entire persona and existence depended on the cycle of creation > performance > feedback and improvement. But then things happened. The types of things that leave people jaded and disoriented, and that vital cycle disappeared, along with that version of myself.
The new version of me still wrote and recorded music, but tended to listen to it alone in my car. I never preformed live. Hours and hours of sessions, demos, aborted albums and unfinished tracks span numerous hard drives without a hope of seeing the light of day.
After my son was born I started to wonder what would happen to all this work; all my songs and lyrics and sessions. Would there be any proof of my experience with the craft after I was gone? Would my son know I was a musician? I imagined my hard drives being wiped and my notebooks thrown away and my songs disappearing as if they never were. For I was the only one that knew they existed.
That is when I came up with the idea of theshelved.org. I wondered, how many other people are there in the world that have given up creative pursuits in the name of practicality or fear or convenience. What creative projects are on their shelves? How can we get these works of art out in front of people and preserved. Not just music, but all art. The art of people who feel like it’s too late, or life is too hard or that there’s no point…
The first step for me. was to stop being stingy. Create a place were I can post my music on my terms and then post it. Easy-peasy. Also, play live.
So, in accordance with that initiative, I played an open mic locally last month, which amounted to my first live performance in 12 years. It went fine. I play two originals, written almost 20 years ago, that had never been performed live ever. When I was done, my wife asked me how it felt. It felt like whatever blockage existed was gone. All mental barriers had been obliterated. I was whatever I said I was, and for a decade and a half I’d been saying I wasn’t a musician anymore. That version of me was over.
Not surprisingly, music started flowing again. I wrote, recorded, mixed and mastered Through Pursed Lips in 8 days. How odd to be so productive again.
Now I will take this opportunity to finish my work and post it here. To create new work. To preserve my old rehearsal tapes and album covers and hand-written lyrics. All here, in a public forum to be shared. And in doing so, become the new version of myself, who is much more like the original.
If my situation resonates with anyone reading this, reach out to me. We can get your art off the shelf. Maybe a million people won’t see it, but the people that do will respect your effort, offer feedback and foster a collaborative environment.
We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let us know what’s on your shelf.
**While we are in beta, all new members must be approved. Just send an email to the above email address and explain why you’d like to become a part of theshelved.org.