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When the Fire Dies

I’ve been playing music since I was 10. I’ve been in bands since I was 15.

There was a fire in me from the first time that I heard an indie artist play music. I wanted to be that guy. I wanted to play noisy rock shows for 12 people. That was considered success, because it was never really about success.

Then that fire went away. It’s been about a year since the last time I played a show. I don’t miss it, at least not yet. Every time I practice with my band for the next gig, I always leave saying “I wish that I could just get paid to practice.”

When the Fire Dies
Jon Russelburg and the Sons of Man at Tidball’s in Bowling Green, KY

Don’t get me wrong, I love playing live shows. I love jumping around like a crazy person and screaming into a microphone. But deep down, playing music was always a by-product of writing songs for me. The power has always been in the words.

I’m a mediocre singer and rely too heavily on cowboy chords. I’m much more interested in getting weird noises out of a guitar amp than having “good tone.” I’m a music producer’s worst nightmare. But the words…thats where I hold my own.

I write a lot. I write for a couple of blogs (including this one). I edit writing all day for work. Sometimes I wonder if I have drained the well.

Andy from Why They Came recently told me that he thinks the well never gets drained. I guess I will just have to find a new bucket for water. (Now I am mixing metaphors and I am well aware that water puts out fire. Judge me, turds.)

I know that I am not the only person this has happened to. When artists make a living with music, they have to push through the slump. Even some of my favorite artists have put out one dogshit record because of it. It happens. You brush it off and move on.

So, until the fire comes back I will keep writing. I have written maybe one useable song in the past year. But on the flip side, I wrote 20+ songs last year for two records that will come out at the same time (hopefully early next year). I love every one of those songs. I think at some point we are going to put out two really great records, and I will proud of them.

Maybe then the fire will come back. Maybe it will come back earlier. Either way, I know it will come back eventually. Until then, I am surrounded by killer artists who are making great music every day. So I am surrounded by inspiration. Thank god for that.

What do you guys do when the fire dies?

— Jon Russelburg

One thought on “When the Fire Dies

  1. I’m on an upswing right now. I definitely ebb and flow with songwriting. Sometimes I look back and feel bad that I haven’t made more time for it, as it can be a struggle for me. I’m constantly picking up the guitar and just making voice memos with my phone of riffs and weird chord sequences because I know I won’t have time right then to structure a complete song out of it. Usually, the song gets finished months later, if at all.

    I actually wrote maybe two songs in 2015, and I’m on pace to at least triple that this year. It doesn’t sound like much, but I’m just not very prolific. Being really happy in life doesn’t help much. With SK, I had lots to be upset about (“Twentysomething angst! Girls hate me, and I’m a perennial screwup!”) , and the songs were cathartic for me. The jury is still out on whether anyone wants to hear songs about how great my wife and tiny offspring are, but it’s what’s real to me now, so that’s what’s coming out.

    PS- Take your time with “Jon Russelburg’s Double Fantasy”. Even if it takes a decade, you’ll still probably release it before the second Redfoot album. Ooohhhh, sick burn by me!

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