Hope you guys are doing alright. Sunny, blue, beautiful skies in Austin today. It's really nice out there. Hard to believe it was snowing about 48 hours ago.
The White House is hosting a health care reform summit today in which Republican and Democrat leaders are sitting down to discuss health care reform. I don't really expect to see a bipartisan health care reform bill coming out of this thing, but it sounds like at least some amount of progress is taking place in terms of fostering civil discussion between Dems and Republicans on health care. It's kind of sad to have to say that we're making progress simply by having our leaders speak to each other in civil tones, but here we are...
What else? How many of you have seen this documentary called Anvil! The Story of Anvil? I saw it about a month or so back, actually, but I was talking to my friend Jennifer about it the other day, and now it's been on my mind a bit. Anvil is a hard rock/heavy metal band from the 1980's (maybe early 90's) that sort of started to make it big, but then sort of sputtered and faded away. The documentary is pretty fascinating and entertaining, even if you're not particularly into the style of music that Anvil plays (maybe especially if you're not into the style of music that Anvil plays). By the time this movie came out a couple of years ago, the guys from Anvil were in their fifties, working other jobs (catering and so forth), and raising families, but still pursuing their musical careers with dreams of once again working their way into the limelight and making it big.
The movie is really funny and poignant and something that all too many of us can relate to in one way or another. As an audience member, you sort of tend to shift back and forth between thinking that these guys are completely self deluded baffoons, inspired visionaries, or simply really nice guys in the pathetic pursuit of a dream that's never going to be realized. The answer probably includes all three. It's difficult to decide whether it's really impressive that these guys have managed to hang together for so long with so little success (while still maintaining the constant belief that success could be right around the corner at any moment), or whether the whole experience has just been a really tragic waste of time.
Having played music myself for many years with little or no commerical success to show for it, I felt like I could relate to the Anvil guys a little bit. The big difference, of course, is that I pretty much do music as a hobby have a career other than music that I've pretty much built my life around, but still... seeing these guys (who've played music together since they were kids) struggle with existential questions about whether their efforts have had any merit? That's something that I felt that I could relate to.
And I think the documentary does a pretty good job of answering those questions. It might sound trite, but in my experience the movie does a good of exploring this honest to god truth: if you want to make music or art of one kind or another, your first and foremost reason for doing it has to be the fact that you have a genuine love for the music itself. You've got to make music because you love to make music. If you're going to pursue this as a way of making a living, you have to do it because you can't imagine being happy any other way.
There's a line in the movie where one of the guys (I think Lips) says that the lack of fame and fortune that Anvil has experienced has been the price they've paid for living a life of doing what they love. I actually thought that was pretty profound. We tend to think about wealth in terms of money that we've accumulated and financial success and security, but some people spend that money before they ever make it- giving it up in exchange for a life of doing whatever it is that they really want to do. If they can pull that off and stay happy and healthy, more power to them. Morally, though, I think that lifestyle starts to become a little more suspect when people have to impose upon their friends and loved ones in order to keep things going (a line which Anvil come pretty close to crossing when they have to borrow money from their family in order to record an album. Hopefully Anvil eventually made enough money back to pay off that debt and repay the loved once who had helped to finance the pursuit of their artistic endeavors).
I'm guessing that Anvil probably found some renewed success after this movie came out, although it's kind of strange that the documentary itself probably helped to resolve some of the key issues that Anvil was struggling with while the documentary was being filmed (i.e., how much they should the band be willing to sacrifice in pursuit of their floundering musical dreams).
Anyway, if you haven't seen it, go check out Anvil! The Story of Anvil. Those guys are a little nutty, but at the end of the day they really do seem like some pretty good guys.
That's it for today. Peace!