A Long, Dry Year

Its been a year since I released any new music – and it was a cover at that:

2012 (and 2013 so far) has been bone dry in the creative musical output department. This alone wouldn’t be so horrible if I were focused and engaged on some other goal. But alas, I’ve been adrift.

In the entry for 2008 in my artist bio I confess to having suffered an early mid-life crisis. I bounced back and forth to different goals, searching for something to stick with, desperate to somehow escape my slowly revealed destiny as an obscure, middle-class professional with nothing to show but a nice family, secure house and small rainy day fund. I would mutter “bullshit” to myself whenever some well-meaning friend sympathetically told me to be proud of my accomplishments. Milestones don’t mean shit if you don’t hit your goals. And my goal of working all day, every day on music was dying in an otherwise pleasant, domestic obscurity.

Well, last year I had another panic episode like 2008, that sent me off to swing at yet another handful of crazy ideas:

  1. Internet Marketing Schemes (blogs, micro-niche promotion sites, ad arbitrage, etc.)
  2. Internet Marketing Applied to Music – ala guru John Oszajca
  3. 4-hour workweek “muse” cash flow-generating businesses
  4. Finally…software-as-a-service business

All I’ve had to show for the first 2 are a series of crappy sites (like this one selling Dubstep Samples for DJs), and fun-but-work blog articles on BenSommer.com that are meant to draw in like-minded visitors searching the web for music like mine (my Top 20 Best Rush Songs article is #1 on Google for several relevant keywords like “Best Rush Songs“).

You see – I’m running away from mediocrity. I tried the path that said do what you love, squeeze your passion into every free moment of your life and try to succeed on the margin. That sucked. I’m now trying what Henry David Thoreau suggested for those freedom-yearning men who have become too encumbered to reduce and simplify – focus like hell on becoming financially independent, and thereby buy back your freedom.

I always have Thoreau ringing in my ears: I am the man who leads a life of quiet desperation. Add to this desperation certain other worldly stresses this year like:

  1. Trying to sell a house that refuses to be sold
  2. Carrying a pretzel franchise that is another money-losing albatross around the neck
  3. Uncertainty over where I will live next year and how my kids are to be raised and educated…

This is all what’s been making me bone-dry creatively.

I will release another song or two soon – just to keep up my cred and prove it to myself and you call that I can do it. But for the remainder of the year I am focused on Thoreau’s Last Mission for Free Men. Wish me luck.

Why Copyright is Still Evil

against_copyrightI published an article last year on copyright and its evils. Both the title and tone were deliberately provocative for a reason – I argued against copyright from moral not utilitarian grounds. That is, I attacked head-on the fundamental injustice of copyright laws, rather than quibble about how they can be tamed and made “fairer”, as most pro-freedom advocates do.

The article was picked up by many websites. Many objections – some sensible, some just angry – came in from readers. I address some of these objections below. View all photos

Douche Chill Music

Perhaps the most expressive pop culture phrase I’ve ever heard is Douche Chill.

Until I heard it first uttered in 2002 on the Howard Stern show I had been without an accurate term to describe that cringing embarrassment I frequently felt at other people’s foolish, boorish or dorky behavior. View all photos

Deep Music Criticism #19 – Frank Zappa – Dirty Love

Sorry to keep returning to the fertile spring that is Frank Zappa’s song collection, but I know of no other rock composer with such a massive and popular output. By which I mean: an output that is massive and popular together, in similar ratios. Not that he’s the most popular rock composer…err actually I think he is. WHATEVER!

Dirty Love is on track of his I that actually didn’t hear until this year! Crazy I know, but its inevitable with a guy as prolific as Frank that one of his greatest hits eludes me, who after all am only a moderate fan. Half the songs favorited by those mildly annoyed commenters on my Top 10 Frank Zappa Songs post were also ones I’d never heard of. View all photos

Political Wednesday: When Does Human Life Begin?

Yeah, I know its Thursday. Sue me.

I got into a debate with a friendly colleague of mine at work right before we headed home  tonight. He’s a guy with generally cynical tendencies who will subscribe to left/liberal positions when pressed. This is frustrating to me since he is smart, and has a raw anti-establishment attitude – both pre-requisites to converting to my libertarian/anarchic view of the world. He nonetheless resists. View all photos

Deep Music Criticism #18 – Donald Fagen – I’m Not The Same Without You

So far in this series of music criticism posts, I’ve stuck to composers and songwriters working in a relatively simple format – pop, metal, mainstream progressive rock, etc. Rush and Frank Zappa are certainly adventurous by comparison with Katatonia and Katy Perry, but not compared to a band like Steely Dan. View all photos