I was driving upstate the other day and a Jason Mraz song came on the radio and I thought of my buddy and wondered how was doing lately. He got married recently and has been taking it easy on his avocado farm outside San Diego. He just posted this on Facebook, so I thought I’d share his words of wisdom…
“As I got into my car to drive downtown on Saturday, a voice in my head started to offer me suggestions to stay home. It was overcast. My wife had a cold. I had things to do. Work to be done. A garage to clean. Could I too pretend I had a cold? All of it was fear talking. And I knew I shouldn’t listen. So I didn’t. I started the car and cranked up the stereo, listening to Billy Joel songs all the way to his sold-out concert at Petco Park, where I had been invited by Billy and his band to join in for a song. The invite in itself is surreal, never mind actually going through with it.
Throughout my relatively short career, invites of this caliber have happened. I never get used to it. Fear was telling me to stay home; that I might fail. But the feeling in my chest knows it’s better to live past your edge. Discomfort doesn’t mean danger. So I went. I walked onto the stage, twice. Once for soundcheck and again for the live show. And like I said, it’s surreal. It’s surreal just to see one of your idols. And even more so when your musical path intersects with theirs. I don’t know the cause of it, but it’s at those intersections where my fear-headedness turns on as if to alert me something is wrong. It’s like a fear of being found-out. Like I cheated my way into the mainstream. For example, I never went to my piano lessons as a kid. I rode around the neighborhood on a classic Yamaha scooter instead. I never learned to read music. I just made stuff up. And I simply mimicked the path of many of my idols and mentors to be where I am. I moved to California. Played a lot of shows. Built up a fanbase around original music. Just went for it. And quite surprisingly it worked.
The secret to success I guess is to not know the formula and just be yourself. Allow your culmination of life experiences and intuitions to express through you in your art. The result will be yours and yours alone. And you’ll really only have to deal with one critic: Your fear.
The concert on Saturday was a blast. I watched the whole thing from the crowd. Midway through I danced and listened to ‘My Life’ in a new way; a song about taking a chance on a dream out west and just going for it.
‘I don’t care what you say anymore – this is my life
Go ahead with your own life – leave me alone’
My Life – Billy Joel
Backstage I got to formally meet the man and spend a moment talking about motorcycles and scooters. Onstage Billy Joel is as relaxed as he is offstage. He has a great rapport with an audience of 41,000, as if he’s in a small club. Every song from his catalogue of hits is familiar, accessible, and full of great hooks. I was honored to alternate verses on ‘You May Be Right.’ It wouldn’t have been my first choice for a duet, but I was just happy to be let in to the rock’n’roll party and score another victory against fear.“
What he said.