Saturday, November 28, 2009

I've become such a square

My cat Moto (as in "Hello Moto" - we inherited him from other folk...) is sitting on top of my big fat book with my dissertation, biting my hand as if to say, "Why the hell are you studying on a Saturday night? You are so dull and boring." Truth is, if I want to continue with my doctorate next year I need to submit some work by Monday... Maybe I'm just becoming a boring old fart, and I sometimes wonder if that's good for my music career. How will having a doctorate help me make hits to burn up the charts and win millions of adoring fans? Truth is, I dunno... Okay, so the study IS about music, but I'm reminded of a quote from Elvis Costello: writing about music is like dancing about architecture. I think I should go write a song rather.

Mind you, I did have a great gig this past Monday night (got the crowd rocking) and I did go out partying with a friend last night, so maybe when my work is done I can have a life. Truth is, I'm sociable but I don't need to be at a party every week to have fun. We age, we sage... Go figure...

Well, Moto has inadvertently worked his way into The Purr Factory, that musical I co-wrote which debuts at the UJ Arts Centre next year. He's such a lovable brat!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lessons from Eminem

Just recently finished Eminem's autobiography, "The Way I Am." Here's a link where you can buy the book:

I never thought I'd say this, but as an artist I am truly inspired, primarily for two reasons that are completely different to the reasons other people like him:

1. He writes that when he was 18, he wasn't sure which direction to take with his life, because he was good at basketball. Both basketball and rapping were long shots, but he knew he wasn't that great at rapping. But he also writes that he and his best buddy Proof wanted the dream, so they dropped the basketball and went for the gold, as he calls it - the rap dream.

I can so relate! I really only started listening to my music voice in my 30s (way past 18), even though I had been doing music all those years in between, and music was a faithful friend that had never left me, even though it feels like music didn't always love me. But I also knew that I had to make the switch or die.

2. He goes on to write and say that rap was a pipe dream for him, but it was all he had, so really, what was he going to do with his life? He then goes on to speak about his first album, Infinite, which he released in 1995. It sold about 70 copies and it didn't get great feedback, says Eminem, because he hadn't found himself yet. But he had an album out, and at least he could say that.

Again, I can SO relate! My first album was released last year, a collaborative effort with my very good friend Tzipora. It hasn't even sold 70 copies, and the feedback has never been that great either, though I believe one or two of the songs have potential. But at least I can say that I have an album out, even if it's not a great one. I also, in hindsight, think that I haven't found myself yet (although I'm a lot older than the 23 young years when Eminem released his first album), which is why my first solo album of mostly original stuff is to be called Finding My Own Voice, because hopefully by the time I release it to coincide with the big party I'm having for my 40th birthday, I will have found that elusive voice of mine! It is to be preceded by at least two albums of covers (the first, All Wrapped Up This Christmas, will be available from CD Baby in time for Christmas '09; the second, The Spirit Within, hopefully in time for Easter '10).

So there you go... I never thought I'd be able to learn anything from Eminem. I was wrong.

I keep realising that you don't need talent to succeed in music (not that I'm implying everyone's favourite white rapper isn't talented). What you need most of all is heart, which will drive your work ethic. John Lennon, Neil Young, Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger, Janis Joplin and David Bowie all made Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest singers of all time. Technically speaking, they all suck as singers. But there's no denying their amazing talent. Heart, baby. Heart.

I walked away from some serious money in the marketing field to pursue my passion, mission and vision of a full-time career in music. I want music to define me, to be what I stand for. Not that I'm ever planning something as archaic as an epitaph on a tombstone, but if I was, I would want it to read: "Here lies Rob Rodell, a man who loved music even on days when it didn't love him back, and who made music his career, because that was his purpose, his very reason for existence." Kinda like Gregory House, who lives for medicine (even though he's also a really good musician). I love House.

Some people would say I'm nuts. My response: The Way I Am...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Here's my version of music piracy:

This past weekend my sister's car got broken into, and they stole the master CD of my Christmas album out of the car. Initially I thought, "How strange!" But then I realised that music does actually have VALUE! As a musician, I sometimes forget that music is emotional currency and that people desire it. Now of course, it depends on whether or not the thief/thieves are part of my target market or not. If they're not, they will listen to the intro of the first song and chuck the CD away. If they are, they might well listen to the first track and be overcome with remorse and mend their ways - since the first track is O Holy Night!

Sometimes ya just gotta laugh at life...