By Michael Laskow
Forty-two hundred people sat defending themselves from a morning mist that threatened to become much worse. I sat with a "mist" in my eyes as I impatiently waited for my daughter's name to be called so she could begin her ascent to the stage and get her diploma. She was graduating college.
She seemed a little sad to be leaving her friends and her beloved university behind. I've never known a "kid" who got so much from her four years at college. She relished every aspect of it.
As the clouds gave way to some blue sky, her name was called. She climbed the steps without tripping. We were both relieved. She seemed concerned about making it across the stage gracefully. I was concerned about the list of fatherly advice that was exploding in my head.
- Always work at something you are passionate about
- Be honest at all costs
- Money matters
- Never, ever give up
- Be charitable because there's always somebody in more dire straits than you
- Wait until you're thirty to get married-you need time to figure out who you are first
- Take measured risks
- Have a backup plan
- Balance your checkbook
- Avoid running up a balance on your credit cards
- Have a man's voice on your answering machine
- Keep pepper spray on your key ring
- Being religious just might improve the quality of your life
- Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer
- Trust your instincts
- Don't drink and drive
- Read constantly
- Local TV news is depressing-avoid watching it
- Much of what's on TV is a waste of your time
This list could go on and on, but I'm not trying to write a book. I promise you though, I do have a point to make.
When my daughter walked down the steps to return to her seat, I noticed that I was smiling so hard, it actually hurt. I realized that I was smiling for two reasons. One of them was the joy a parent feels when they see their child accomplish something grand. The other reason was that I immediately started writing this column in my head. I had already picked out the "Life Tips" that could help our members.
Leave it to me to inject TAXI in to every aspect of my life.
When you write your music, you're obviously working at something you're passionate about.
As a musician or songwriter, you need to be honest. Your music has to be honest or the public will know it's not before the first verse ends. You also have to be honest with yourself. It takes guts to admit that you've written a stinker and it's time to move on to the next tune.
- Money matters. Wouldn't you love to earn a living doing what you're passionate about? Not having enough money is often the impetus for some great songs!
- Never, ever give up because it may be the hundred and first pitch that gets the song cut.
- Being charitable is character trait that our members have exhibited many times when we've done fund-raisers for those less fortunate.
- Don't get married until you're thirty-hmmm, I think I'll leave that one alone;-)
- Take measured risks. Try to be a rock star.
- If you fall short of the mark, you're backup plan can be songwriting for other artists or placing your music in movies and TV shows.
- Numbers nine through thirteen are just good common sense, but they don't necessarily apply in this context.
- Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. This IS the music business after all. Watch your back.
- Trust your instincts. If you think the song ain't that good, it probably isn't. If you meet somebody your instincts tell you might be a good person to help further your career, stay in touch with them.
- Don't drive home drunk after you do a show. A dead rock star might sell more records, but you won't be around to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
- A very wise A&R person once told me that the best songwriters are those who read constantly. It gives them more information, more perspective, and more good ideas for songs.
- And finally, watching TV is a time sucker. You could be spending those valuable hours writing your next hit. Besides, you can always watch a 'Friends' re-run before you go to bed at eleven.
And as the graduation ceremony drew to a close, I remembered the time when I told my parents that I was so close to my daughter that it felt as though her heart beat in my chest. As close as we are, I know that she rarely follows my advice, but I still love her just as much.
And I'm happy to report that my daughter Rachel has accomplished a great deal in her twenty-one years. Youth isn't always wasted on the young.
Brought to you by TAXI: The Independent A&R Vehicle that connects unsigned artists, bands and songwriters with major record labels, publishers, and film & TV music supervisors.