Dec 12, 2019 • 3M

❤️ Serviam

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Purists may whine that the best days of music are behind us, that capital “M” music has seen its peak and is no longer relevant. But here at Play It Like It's Music we believe the opposite: not only is the act of musicmaking an essential life skill with a lineage stretching back to the beginnings of human history, but the vocation of the professional musician is more vital today than it ever has been. Once a month, join musician, songwriter and producer Trevor Exter as he drops in on working musicians from every genre.
Episode details

Hi folks!

In this edition: a bit of housekeeping and some end-of-decade reflection.

  • This will be my only post this month because I have quite a bit of travel and work on the books right now. But stay tuned: “Play It Like It’s Music”, the podcast will be re-booted in January and we will soon be in touch like never before. There are some great guests and jams coming your way right here on substack.

But let me share too: because you know that aspirationally, I'm coming at you from a place of service on this channel.

We know it’s a “bring it or don’t” world, and that any service provided is easier to trust when it shows up with consistency.

And Yes, I've had patches where I didn't always provide every Wednesday according to my commitment.

We’re still here though.

And still casting.

“What gives, Trev?”

I got a little buried in small potatoes lately.

You know I'd prefer to show up as that gritty, ultra-dedicated "The show must go on!" guy, a stoic provider of musical connection, perspective and reason who's always got something to say and play.

You bet I am that, but sometimes life and humanity intervene.

…Like we just hosted 21 people for Thanksgiving.

…Like our boiler also exploded this month.

…And then I got hired for some things.

I’m working on stuff *sure* but I've also been embroiled in some production and enshackled by some paperwork. Not making as much art.

It happens (humanity…)

But I still love you. And reflecting back on 2019, to 2009 and 1999, it’s clear I've been on a journey of digging & building, sometimes erupting maybe but always evolving.

We call ourselves musicians, but what did that word even mean in 2019?

for context: We can admit that those of us who became conscious between 1970 and 2000 grew up in a bubble. But let's also remember that Leonard Bernstein used to be a regular on primetime TV. Let's remember Santana going on tour with Wayne Shorter. Let's remember the arguments people used to have about Mariah Carey’s voice when she first came out. Let's remember what a big deal Live Aid was, before autotune, and also that Black Sabbath was a scary band when they first came out, even though *now* they sound more like the Beatles than some of the truly scary stuff out there today.
And let's also remember that the backdrop for all of the above was a functioning music industry that routinely employed professionals.

Today, when bankers and tech founders call each other "rock stars" it's an attempt to make us forget what a real rockstar is.

(And don’t get me started on the term "gig economy"… that farce is a literal affront to the meaning of both words.)*

*But especially GIG: "gig" is slang for Engagement and refers to a manifestation of commitment, relationship and meaningful exchange. A good gig can change your life, define or even save it.

Music connects us, but what is the essence of that connection?

These days I catch myself in professional settings describing my musical practice as a lifestyle choice. Otherwise the 2019 people make all kinds of assumptions about why a 46 year old man still plays.

I’ll say that I “play music for the same reasons a surfer surfs or that a rock climber climbs. They have to be in the waves or on the face, I have to be in the sound.”

Oo baby. Just like that.

Because quitting may be an option for some, but take it away from us for a few days and we'll start to lose the sanity.

So we play on. But it's only part of it.

Because while a surfer can surf alone, and not every climber needs a film crew to follow them around, a musician's work remains genuinely incomplete without some aspect of public performance.

So a process which may have started as a solitary, even cave-dwelling pursuit can only reach true fruition when witnessed by others.

It can take the form of teaching, composing, producing media or playing live.

Better yet, some combination of all these. But!

Music is fundamentally a service.

Unlike surfing or rock climbing, it is not recreation.

Nor is it a product.*

*(YES —> there are those who would comodify it, claiming that it is both a product and a form of recreation. They want it to be sold as voluminously, cheaply or expensively as possible. For them Music is to be engaged in ONLY while working on something else, or AFTER you have satisfied your other real and worldly responsibilities.)

But people who see music as a recreational product are living in ignorance. Music is a service.

I am here to serve the Muse.

Who in turn serves You.

[two of these pies were delicious, and the other two were vegan]

Back to now:

In 1999 I was living the peak of my adolexcent fantasies, performing a nightly hedonistic spectacle in New York City. (Gig of a lifetime, that.)

In 2009 I had no home. (A story for another day.)

And in 2019 I moved to California.

The intervening decades saw me doing the best I could with what I'd been given: getting knocked down, getting back up, getting run over, finding God, building up, walking away, breaking down, getting walked away from, writing songs, playing gigs, finding love and choosing to serve.

So here we are.

Sending you all my deepest gratitude for coming with me this far, for listening and supporting and for staying connected. I’m ready to grow it out again.

In 2020 the podcast is coming back and the music will continue.

Thank you for the chance to serve.

Big love to your ears!

Back in January.