Not everybody’s cup of tea
I recently started reading Jann Arden’s memoir, Falling Backwards. Early on in the book she mentions that it’s important to her that people like her, that it always has been and it always will be.
That little tidbit had me secretly shouting, “Yes!” Jann Arden is 50, and by all accounts is pretty darned comfortable in her skin. It’s refreshing for me to hear this admission from a confident, successful woman. It’s probably not hard to guess this: being liked is important to me, too. But I’ve long been reluctant to admit it. It’s just not cool to confess that one’s self-worth depends on other people’s opinions.
Okay, that’s putting it a little strongly. I’ve got enough self-confidence to not fall apart just because someone doesn’t like me; a good thing, too, since being universally liked is next to impossible.
In 2007, I participated in a competition in Yellowknife, NWT, called North of 60 Idol. It was a 6-week elimination competition and I sang two different songs each week. Early choices were the Dixie Chicks’ “Cowboy Take Me Away” and Debbie Boone’s “You Light Up My Life”. One week I covered “On My Own” from Les Misérables and another I did “Black Velvet”.
One of the most difficult songs I did in the competition was “Peel Me a Grape”; the karaoke track I used was Diana Krall’s version, but I worked hard to create a different interpretation — a challenge for a neophyte jazz vocalist like me.
At the end of that song, the judges rendered their opinion. I remember that two of them liked it. The last fellow didn’t. He was a rock radio station DJ and he really just didn’t care for jazz, and he said as much.
“That sounded too easy,” he added. “I want to hear you belting it out!”
I couldn’t take it to heart; it was clear he just didn’t get it. The song has a lot words and I was trying to navigate the swing feel by instinct. All he wanted was to hear my voice at top volume. If the guy doesn’t like the style of music, there’s not much I can do about it. Personally, I loved that tune. (And I still do!)
So, despite my desire to be liked, I feel the same way about my music career now. There are musicians everywhere struggling to get noticed. All I can do is to try getting my music in front of as many ears as possible, so to speak. The more ears I can reach, the more likely it is to find the ones who like what they hear. Also, the more likely it is that there will be some who don’t. That’s okay, because it’s just part of the process of finding the right ears.
Anyway, when the right ears find me, I can stop worrying about being liked. I’m grateful that we connected…and we can be glad we found each other.
(One of the songs I performed on the last night of North of 60 Idol.)