Birthday Thoughts  

Today is my (Ty's) BIRTHDAY! So, last night my friend Amy asked what I'm grateful for from the past year and what I'd like to invite in for this next year. I was a bit of a deer in the headlights when she asked, so I spent this morning thinking about it. 

Truly, I'm grateful to still be here - that I haven't given up. I'm grateful to be married to someone who knows what love actually is, and who loves me so well and so actively every single day. I'm grateful for the new closeness I have with many friends who for years I was out of touch with because I was so wrapped up in my career (sorry, guys!). I'm grateful to care more than ever about how I can also be a good friend who shows up. I'm grateful for my big, loving family, for my weird, large, rental house, for the generosity of strangers and the unexpected raining of good fortune. And I'm grateful to have become a student of the world, rather than someone who professes to know something, anything - to be expanding outward rather than collapsing inward, at least most of the time. 

In the next year, I'm inviting doors that have been stuck to open easily, old wounds to heal, and a reconnection with some intimate inner fire of purpose. I'm inviting myself, as always, out on the ledge with an open heart, inviting myself to let go of anger and regret and replace it with light and forgiveness, to see what else is possible in this brief life. I'm inviting in gentleness and kindness and especially humor. And goats - I'm inviting in lots of baby goats. In sweaters and/or pajamas. 

Every year brings a little more acceptance, a little more peace with change. I'm still putting on my workout clothes and setting my timers and putting pen to paper each day, trying to make ultimate sense out of it all, but truthfully, isn't this just what it is? When are all life's questions ever answered? When are you ever your ideal weight, with your ideal job, partner, home, money and accolades, assured forever that you're making a positive, unique contribution to the world? When do the people who hurt you come back and apologize, when do all the no's turn into yeses? When do you get to be besties with Oprah and have a movie made about your life? (Answer: Only if you're Elizabeth Gilbert and you wrote Eat, Pray, Love.) There is only now, in all its messy, imperfect perfection, so maybe those of us with Virgo in our charts can stop trying so damn hard all the time, yes?

Life appears to to be a process of continually humbling yourself and realizing that your own perfect comfort and success were never the point. The cool part is, we get to be part of something so much bigger - a community, a world. I love that! Today, I'm grateful for all of you. Dearly, dearly grateful. <3

The Most Important Thing (When Things Suck) 

As some of you know, earlier this week I (Ty) severely injured my back, and I've been pretty much incapacitated ever since. Big thanks to everyone who has reached out to me with such kindness - I feel it. I feel very lucky. Being in such extreme pain and not able to do much for myself this past week has been very humbling, and when I haven't been in a loopy drug haze I've been thinking a lot. Thinking about how quickly things can change. Thinking I want to be a calmer, less worried person. I can't help but think that stress played a part in my injury. I've been going, going, going for the past, oh, 15 years or so, and really hustling overtime for the past 3. I've based a lot of my self-worth on being a "do-er." I'm proud of my accomplishments, and I'm always working on new projects. And then with one quick motion on Monday, my body just suddenly said "No. You have to stop." But! No buts. I had to stop. Full stop, do not pass Go, do not collect $200 (or $2000 or whatever we would have made from those gigs). Just stop. I really had no choice. 

Stopping is such a weird sensation. We cancelled some shows, and they were shows I was really looking forward to. Canceling is something I've done only a handful of times in my whole career. I hate doing it. But it's nice to see that life goes on. And it's also terrifying to see how life goes on, and it will continue to go on whether or not I ever play another show again, and also after I'm gone. 

We're not as important as we think. Success used to mean so much to me. Now I'm less interested in my own personal success and more interested in making real connections with people, in helping as many people as possible. Maybe that's just called growing up. But also - the way we show up for each other when things suck? That's important. That's the most important, lasting thing of all.

The glitz! The glamour! 

Early on in my years of touring and making music for a living, I had one uncle who always told me I was just one big hit away from "making it." He would rush up to me excitedly at family gatherings and shout, "One hit! That's all you need!" At the time I thought he was really impressed with me and the fact that I made music for a living, although looking back now I think he was probably just worried that I would never be able to support myself. Haha.

My mom, who's cheered me on tirelessly all these years, often applauds little successes like important gigs and nice write-ups by saying, "Hey, honey, you're on your way!" I don't think she's trying to imply that there is some place where being a folk musician makes sense and I'm not there yet, but sometimes that's what I hear. I refrain from replying, "If after fourteen years someone is still telling you you're on your way, chances are you took a wrong turn at Albuquerque." 

Don't get me wrong – Ingrid and I have both enjoyed more than our share of glory, standing onstage with our childhood idols, playing in front of tens of thousands of cheering fans, traveling the world – and best of all, getting to make music full-time for many years. It's been an amazing ride, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

But there is another side that most people never see. "The glitz! The glamour!" Ingrid and I often exclaim to each other, most often when we find ourselves doing data-entry all day or getting dressed for a show in a porta-potty. The not-so-secret truth about being an independent musician is that 50% of our job is sitting at a computer booking and promoting shows, and 50% is collecting huge royalty checks and bathing in them! Just kidding. Maybe 40% is driving and schlepping, 7% is writing songs, and 3% is performing them. Although they don't say it, I think some of my friends and family really don't understand why we still do this. We both had a solid out when our bands, Girlyman and Coyote Grace, split up a few years ago. We could have learned to code or something. We both know the chances of us becoming big stars are slim to none, not that that was ever the point.

So why? Why haul our stuff down from our second story walk-up in Chicago and drive ten hours round trip to Iowa for a one-hour set and then haul it all back up?

Maybe Tennessee Williams said it best:

"Security is a kind of death, I think, and it can come to you in a storm of royalty checks beside a kidney-shaped pool in Beverly Hills or anywhere at all that is removed from the conditions that made you an artist, if that's what you are or were or intended to be. Ask anyone who has experienced the kind of success I am talking about. What good is it? Perhaps to get an honest answer you will have to give him a shot of truth-serum but the word he will finally groan is unprintable in genteel publications.

"Then what is good? The obsessive interest in human affairs, plus a certain amount of compassion and moral conviction, that first made the experience of living something that must be translated into pigment or music or bodily movement or poetry or prose or anything that's dynamic and expressive--that's what's good for you if you're at all serious about your aims...purity of heart is the one success worth having. 'In the time of your life--live!' That time is short and it doesn't return again. It is slipping away while I write this and while you read it, and the monosyllable of the clock is Loss, Loss, Loss, unless you devote your heart to its opposition."

Although I don't think you have to be poor to be an artist (Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way helped me with that one), let's face it - there are certain compromises most of us make. But we make those compromises gratefully, with all our being, because we know that the alternative wouldn't serve us or anyone else. We do it because we can't not do it. And we know that it's not "making it" or even being "on our way" that makes all the sacrifice worth it.

It's that feeling of pulling the truth through the eye of a needle and creating something that's never been here before. For better or for worse, that feeling is you. That feeling is everything.

-posted by Tylan Greenstein


 

The new blogamajig 


A blog? As Woody Allen said in Annie Hall, "Aren't you ashamed to pontificate like that?"

Why, no! No, we're not. We quite like it. One of our favorite parts of this job is getting to know you folks. A lot of that happens on the road, and some of it happens online, on Facebook, etc. But we're not always able to chat at length after shows, and as we all know, social media has its limits. So we've carved out this little space here at MoB HQ to share a little more of our lives. As in, what does it look like to be independent musicians who tour around in our car in 2015? What really happens after the shows, while we're driving, and when we're trying to balance our books (operative word: trying)? What issues are we thinking about? How did we get through the day today? How did you?

 

At the Kate Wolf Music Festival, right before Ingrid's dad brought Ty a birthday cake and the whole audience sang Happy Birthday. Then everyone ate cake.



You can still get our Official News on the home page - you know, big articles, announcements, and the like. This space is for all the other stuff - the human stuff. We hope to share little bizarre stories, nuggets of cracked wisdom, calls to action for causes we believe in, and even hacks and practical tips for all you creative types. If all goes according to plan, the end result might be something like a road journal, food blog, and personal development course wrapped up in one. We'll see what happens.

We promise not to over-share about our dog or laugh at our own jokes. So subscribe to our feed and you'll automatically get a notification when we write a new post.

What would you like to hear more about on our new blogamajig? Leave your suggestions in the comments!