“WHAT A PIECE OF WORK IS MAN!”
Ahh, validation. The fuel that keeps us “outer-directive’s” fires stoked. Is it necessary to have validation to continue to be creative, to continue to do the work against the crushing forces of pragmatism?
I wish I could answer that for you. I can only recount my own feelings about validation.
When I wrote about Jerry Wexler (you can review that installment by clicking on this link: http://littlegeorgiesblog-a-thon.blogspot.com/2008/08/jerry-wexler-story.html) calling basically with the intent of acknowledging my efforts.
He wanted to give his personal stamp of approval and to urge me to keep creating; to use his cache to tell me "Be the core and fuck being the envelope, Sonny".
I wrote my tribute to Jerry from the vantage point of having about twelve years of distance and perspective.
I know what that kind validation means now. But I was too guarded and too concerned with maintaining a protectionist stance to realize what was happening at the time of that first phone call. I failed to recognize just exactly what Wex was trying to do for me, and what the Universe was trying to tell me. It was one of those points of validation that kept me pushing, but I failed to understand just what direction the finger of fate was pointing to. Basically, because my blinders were pretty highly developed at that point, and my head was firmly inserted up my own ass. He couldn’t actually do anything career wise for me, so what was his true function?
Well like I said: Now I know, but unfortunately, I will never have the opportunity to truly thank him in gratitude for the gift he gave me, the one I finally opened up twelve years after the fact.
So here’s another little validation story, and hopefully it will show you what I’ve learned since that phone call.
In the period of my 18-month malaise, and being a full-blown agoraphobic, one of the only options for human contact left for me was the Internet. I collected a very small posse of Bi-Polars such as myself, worldwide, to discuss medication issues, recovery issues, dealing with this fucking disease issues and the like. An informal AA electronic meeting for the “Crazier Than A Shithouse Rat” club, if you will.
One of the club members is a friend who lives in Birmingham, UK. She found me via my Myspace “Little Georgie” site, but once it was established that “Little Georgie” was dead and a verboten topic of discussion, and that we were both Bi-Polar, the former career “suit” was never mentioned again, and we just kept discourse on the Bi-Polar rails.
Until recently. She wrote me in the summer of 2008 with this statement:
“I know that you’re uncomfortable about your past life and accomplishments. You have the same 4 songs on your myspace player that you had when I first met you. I’ve tried to buy your recordings through all the standard outlets, and they can’t be found and you are very good at what you do. Could you guide me in the right direction?”
Now drugged out of my mind, just at the point of entertaining the notion of re-visiting my former creative self at the point of finally releasing any ties that I had to that former creative self and burying it for good, could I recognize this as any form of validation?
Absolutely no way! If anything, I’m consistent.
But at this point, I was getting philosophical about it all. I responded that yes, this is a part of my past that I’d just as soon put behind me, and no, you can’t buy the discs because I don’t play at that particular playground anymore. But if you want to hear transmissions from my ancient past, you have been a good friend. I’ll just email you every MP3 I can dig up. And I did.
This, her response after digesting several hours of finished recordings and demos of me drunkenly caterwauling into a Norelco condenser mic whilst bashing about on an out of tune piano:
“ George, all of this is... amazingly flabbergasting. And the fact that Bob Dylan speaks so highly of you is truly impressive”
This statement, so matter-of-factly delivered, as if someone who had spent the last ten years hiding under the proverbial bed would or should know such a thing.
We have now entered the Wexler Zone of validation friends. I asked for an explanation.
She wrote back stating that she listens to Dylan’s satellite radio re-broadcasts on the BBC religiously, and that she was compelled to go to myspace to find me because Dylan plays The Hungarians repeatedly, and purportedly said: “Best American band of the past twenty years... and amazingly enough, no one knows who he is or how to find him…. he’s more enigmatic than me!” and she “compassionately” didn’t tell me this, because I cut her off at the pass on any conversation remotely resembling, music, art, or “Little Georgie”.
This is a prime example of cutting yourself off at the knees to prevent hurt, and then wondering why the fuck it’s so hard to walk forward. Or having inserted your head up your own ass and wondering, “Why is it so dark in here... and why does it smell like ass?”
And so, the thing I tried so hard to insulate myself from hit me like a freight train. I counted my chicken before it was hatched. I allowed myself to think: “What If?”. I expanded right into the Universe of infinite possibility…pragmatism be damned, or at least just enough for that to happen.
There is a line of plausibility in all this. When I first moved to New Orleans, I was being courted as a possible production project by George Ricelli of whom I met through a mutual acquaintance.
At the time George was playing drums with Keith Richards in the X-pensive Winos, and ended up playing with Dylan and still does to this day. He ended up with all my output, all recordings, rehearsals demos, scribbled poetry: everything.
Once he figured out I didn’t have any money, he dropped me like a hot potato, but that being said:“What if” he just happened to be playing my shit on the tour bus and just as Uncle Bobby walked on it. “What If” Uncle Bobby said, “What’s that?”
But pragmatism has a mighty strong pull. This had to be verified. Calls were made. Show logs were scoured, by many drunken Internet monkeys, worldwide.
It never happened.
There was a record of him playing “Professor Longhair and the Shuffling Hungarians” repetitively during “theme” segments (I stole the name as an homage to one of my musical heroes), but no “Little Georgie”
So I wrote my friend back with my research findings and asked, “ Which did you Google? Little Georgie and the Shuffling Hungarians, or just The Shuffling Hungarians when attempting to find me?” (The Shuffling Hungarians is such a little known factoid that I would come up in any search engine before the good professor would).
She was adamant at first that she was telling the truth, but I had planted the seed of doubt.
You could literally see her confidence wane halfway through her letter (perhaps she elaborated and embellished the information she was feeding me), and then the “AH-HA” moment where she makes the realization that she took a borderline stage 2 Bi-Polar friend that has been on the brink of suicide for the past year, erroneously lifted his spirits, and carelessly dashed him upon the rocks…and apologized profusely.
And this, my reaction:
Please don’t feel bad about this…when faced with the realization that this might be true, I expanded into the Universe and saw infinite possibility for myself, for the first time since I was a little kid jamming to Meters records and thinking “Someday…I’m going to play with those guys”. You know what? That day happened, I did play with those guys: a lot. And it wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t allow myself to dream big, and to open my heart up enough to expand into the realm of possibility with no fear…and so after being so lost for so many years, you allowed me to feel that way again. It doesn’t matter if it happened or not. I got to shoot up into the Universe, just for a moment and it felt good.”
And this is what I have learned.
It doesn’t matter if validation is real, or imagined, or if you use it for motivational fuel or not.
Just don’t forget about what’s being made available to you. Don’t forget about the realm of possibility, the realm of dreams. Don’t forget to PAY ATTENTION to the abundance that is all around you, but so hard to see.
Don’t forget that you are part of that abundance. Its all made of the same stuff!
And don’t forget to be grateful, and give thanks.
"You may shoot for the stars and end up in a back alley behind Pluto, beaten and bloodied, but at least I dare to dream, and that’s better than being Earthbound, mired in the muck of mediocrity.
I judge my forward progress and success by the crushingly epic nature of my failures.
The more epic the crash, the more I’m convinced I must be doing something right"
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THANK YOU KINDLY,
COLONEL BEAUREGARD "IRON THIGHS" JEFFERSON, A.K.A. "THE MANAGEMENT"