Jim Shelley & Book Of Kills

Realistic About Art

From a considerably longer, quite interesting interview in a recent edition of THE WASHINGTON POST with Young Adult author Jeff Zentner:

"I’m really realistic about art and commerce and what you need to do to attain a certain level of professional success in any given field.
And music? I realized it was never going to happen because, first of all, I’m not in a position to tour, because I’m not a bohemian personality, where I’m okay with insecurity. I’ve got to have health insurance. I can’t create if I’m on the verge of disaster.
"I have a family that I provide for. I like to have a steady income. All of these things are really antithetical to making it as a musician. And I did not have the technical musical skill to make it as … you know, you can kind of have a middle-class living as a musician living in Nashville if you play lots of session work — if you’re a Jerry Douglas kind of guy. But that wasn’t me at all.
"I was never that technically skilled as a musician. I was always way too idiosyncratic. Even to this day, if someone’s like, 'Hey, let’s get together and have a jam session,' I’m like, 'Uhhh, I kind of just know my songs and that’s it. I don’t know any other songs.'
So, there was that.
"There was the fact that I came to music late. I started playing guitar when I was 21. And my greatest goal was to someday, just once, play in front of people. And I obviously achieved that.
"But it was such a late start that by the time I think I was making really good music I was well past 30, and you don’t make it big as a musician after you’re 30. You just don’t. You can’t attain anything. You can’t even get … like … Who’s somebody who’s not as big as Jason Isbell? Because I think of Jason Isbell as pretty big. But still, he’s not huge huge. You can’t even make it Todd Snider big if you start after 30. I mean, the number of musicians I can think of who made it big after 30, it’s like David Gray, Leonard Cohen, maybe the Iron & Wine guy? I don’t know. But it’s a real short list." -- Jeff Zentner