“If you can’t be great, then there’s no sense in ever playing music again, Sal.”
— Eddie Wilson, creative genius, in Eddie & The Cruisers
Is Eddie right? If you fail over and over to produce great work, you may as well quit? (That is not what he said, but it’s the underlying premise.)
No, Eddie’s wrong, as you might expect me to say given my devotion to Bradbury, whose mantra is attached to my desktop: “You only fail if you stop writing.”
Creating art of any kind is about the art – you can strive to be great, but there’s plenty of sense in making music whether you can or can’t be great.
For one thing, there is no “can’t” (sorry, Emmanuel). Everyone has the ability to make something great, if they work at it long and hard enough.
In the quiet of morning, before the daily maelstrom, everything seems possible. Then it all hits, and the day goes by, and at the end what was possible didn’t happen.
But every so often, something does happen – an idea, a conversation, something seen or heard or read – and the possibilities don’t feel so out of reach.
“If only” is a constant distraction: If only this or that would happen, if only there was the time or the money, or another “if only.” Until one day it becomes clear: If it’s going to happen, it has to be without the “if onlys.” The lottery isn’t going to be won, and the other pieces won’t magically fall into place – there will be no lucky breaks, only earned ones.
So step forward, do the work and make it happen. Do it, and then, “you’ll be a man, my son.”
“If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run,” then it’s possible. Do, until it’s great.