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Experience, learn, always laugh, sometimes cry, repeat. by Nick Bullock

week 6 Experience, learn, always laugh, sometimes cry, repeat.

Some people love to say how difficult their chosen "career" can be. They complain. Sometimes it comes in the form of a joke, sometimes their words and actions straight up drip with venom, and sometimes its a subtle comment of desperation and frustration.

It's usually easy to imagine, feel, honor, glorify and visualize our next grand accomplishment in the career of our dreams. But that's not all there is to it. What does it mean to follow your career path? It means if it's true, it will be hard. If its TRUTH, it will be the hardest. Follow your instinct, follow your gut, follow your dreams and they are guaranteed to lead to hard times. But if they are really your truth, you don't have a choice anyways. So, if we choose to go the hard way and follow our truth, then we do it intentionally with the knowledge that we are not going to have a breezy stroll down career street. We can, however, learn to discipline our minds and hearts over time. We can learn how to honor our feelings of self doubt and frustration, but not live in them. We can start to take command of our subconscious. And slowly over time, we get really good at what other people might call having a thick skin, or "no worries". Its really just the ability to deal with in a healthy manner, all the negative bullshit that surrounds following your truth.

So, experience, learn, always laugh, sometimes cry and repeat.

ps: for week 6 of 52 in 52 go to https://soundcloud.com/nickbullock/grand-design

10 Things About Growth If You're An Artist by Nick Bullock

10 Things To Think About Concerning Growth and Growing as a Professional Artist: 1. Growing pains exist. There will be a time when you are still developing your skills. As a matter of fact, you will always be developing your skills. There will be moments when others doubt your abilities, or doubt what you can do. You can, at that time, decide whether or not you are going to honor your reality, or theirs. I suggest honoring your own.

2. Not everything is for everyone. It's ok if people don't like what you do. As a matter of fact, the more people don't, probably means that you are closer to finding your niche. If you are a really good americana songwriter, or incredibly skilled with ink drawings, then maybe a metal head won't like your song, or maybe a fan of water color paintings isn't going to choose your ink drawing. There are lots of people who do like ink, and who do like americana. Do what you do first, then find the people who dig it.

3. Marketing, marketing, marketing. The more organized and intentional you can be with your business, the further you're going to go. Period. If you take your business seriously, others will too.

4. Take a break. When you need one, take a vacation. As a self employed artist, It can be really hard to take time off. But it does your body, your mind and your soul a world of good to take a break every now and again. Yes, there are times when you have to put the pedal to the metal, and just move forward, but balancing that with taking breaks when you can is imperative to your survival as a person and an artist.

5. Shake hands and kiss babies. Take a page from politics 101, remember names and remember faces. Connect with people when you meet them. Care. Not disingenuously, do it for real. When you meet someone for the first time, look them in their eyes and search for their soul, be open to being moved by the person.

6. Those who do, do, those who don't, don't. Start something, and see it through. Don't let fear rise to the surface and drown your enthusiasm before you get a chance to explore your ideas. Think less and do more. Book your tour, make your record, show your work, etc. Do things, big and small, "smart" and "dumb".

7. This time right now while you are doing your thing, isn't your last time doing it. So don't get caught up in perfection. Process, not perfection.

8. Remember to check in on your goals. Every now and again (every three months?) take stock of where you are with them. Are they achievable and time sensitive? If someone asks, are you able to clearly communicate them. Write them down, and work backwards till you have the small steps clearly identified. Make it a habit each week to contribute in some small way to the execution of your goals. Each week I ask myself a simple question: "what is the one thing that I can do that can have the biggest positive impact on ___" (fill in the blank).

9. Get a hobby outside of your art. Seek inspiration else where.

10. Be open to life's many twists and turns. There are very few things in your (our) actual control. You can't predict or control how, what or why. But you can control your own reaction to the peaks and valleys. I'm not saying don't every have a pity party, i'm saying be intentional with your pity party, and when you are done, move on. If a song publisher says no, or a dance troupe goes with some one else, what does that mean? Nothing. It means nothing. It means that you can then shift your focus, when you're ready (after said pity party), to what you are supposed to be focusing on, Whether that is the next dance troupe or something completely different. Who knows? Being open is the point.

 

Week 5 of 52 in 52:

Yellow Stone

you can stream it here: https://soundcloud.com/nickbullock/yellow-stone

Week 5

Commitment by Nick Bullock

Commitment: The scary thing about committing is that you are officially on the hook. The scary thing about being on the hook is that you might be taken to task for not seeing it through. And if you fail, not only do you let others down, but you let yourself down, and that doesn't feel good.

But commitment is also confidence, it's a way of publicly stating your intentions. It's a powerful statement that "yes, I can" is in action. And the funny thing is, even when you trip up and make mistakes, people usually respect those who have whole heartedly committed themselves to something (an ideal, a job, a process etc), and rather than hanging you out to dry, they tend to give you a second chance. The question then is how do we want to perceive ourselves (therefore have others perceive us)? Whether we commit a "take to tape" at a recording session or commit to a relationship, I think the answer is obvious.

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this week in 52 in 52:

The Hand That Pushed:

to stream, go to: https://soundcloud.com/nickbullock/the-hand-that-pushed

52 in 52: fifty two songs in fifty two weeks: its a start... by Nick Bullock

095 Every now and again you get a great idea, that seems far fetched. Some would even deem it crazy. "That sounds nuts", "Why would you ever do that". The best ideas usually are tied hand in hand with those kind of sentiments. The worst is when they not only come from the outside in, but the combo punch of coming from within too.

Self doubt, man its a bitch.

We all have it (i think).

What do you do with it (i'm really asking)?

I used to just pretend like it didn't exist, but I realized in ignoring it, I was somehow just extending its grasp on me. Lately, I'm in the habit of really just letting it be, almost honoring it in a way. Meaning, as soon as I recognize it for what it is (which I'm proud to say, doesn't take me too long anymore… practice makes perfect), as soon as I name it for what it is, I acknowledge it, and then i'm able to actually let it go. My inner monologue literally goes something like this "I feel scared because of ___" … then I say "ok"… and then, almost always, its gone. And i'm back to making decisions based on truth and not fear, based on what I want, not what I doubt I can have.

About a year ago I had the idea to start a recording project, i dubbed it 52 in 52. My band and I will be releasing fifty two songs in fifty two weeks… one song per week for a whole year.

As soon as this crazy idea birthed itself in my head, my logical brain had sooooooo many things to say to the rest of my brain… again, the voice in my head: "what if you can't do it", "what if you release a shitty song", "you only get one chance at a first impression", "its going to be sooooo hard" - that one has a very whiney monolog voice attached to it - "what if i fail", "how am i supposed to write, record, mix and master all that", "screw that!!!" … and on and on.

But you know what, I really value growth above most other things in my life. And the best way I know how to grow, is to do, and do again, and again, and again. At the end of the day, the thing that excites me most, excites me louder than any voice in my head, or voice of doubt in the world, is the chance to learn from each and every song I write and record. I'm sure there will be some songs that I write that are better than others, and I'm sure that my band and I will achieve greater sonic bliss on some songs while tracking and producing each song, but you know what, each time, i'll be getting better at it. We'll be getting better at it.

So if you're at all interested in checking up on the progress, there will be several ways you can. Weekly social media blasts, and email list and the like.

At the end of the year,we will have people (like you!) vote on their favorite 10 songs, and release a very special album, curated by you.

Certainly expect some videos in the works too, again, picked by you the people.

So there it is, my crazy ass idea, but what the hell, you only live once, why not challenge yourself. Go big or go home, right?

Here's the link for week 1: https://soundcloud.com/nickbullock/lonely

happy new year

xo

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Happy Holidays, Still In Love With Music by Nick Bullock

It amazes me, that after fourteen years of calling myself a professional musician, I'm still lucky enough to do this for a living. More importantly, after all that time I still love what I do. I've definitely burned the wick at both ends plenty of times through my journey, but I haven't burned out. That got me thinking as to why I'm still doing what it is I do? Why, when its so easy to get frustrated, or more specifically for me, sometimes it can feel helpless. Being a musician, and relying on your income as a musician, can be precarious at times, and down right stressful. A friend recently wrote a face book post about his self proclaimed addiction to being a musician, and how it's cost him relationships, financial hardship and more. I can relate on some level. It definitely manifests itself as a need.

The other side of the coin is that being a musician is life giving, life altering and a spiritually rich path, every day. I've met my closest friends doing what I do, I met my wife, by doing what I do. I've had more adventures with my best friends in the last ten years alone than most people get in a life time. Being a musician led my wife and I to move to Nashville, which has brought immeasurable gifts, both personally and professionally. A whole new set of friends and relationships to build and nurture. I've been lucky enough to share in the experience of making records with close friends, which brings us inevitably closer as friends, as we dig deep together.

Thats the side of the coin I choose to look at everyday. And thats why I do what I do.

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I guess, for me, when I boil it down, music is really what I need to do. Yes, it's a passion, but it goes a little beyond that, it is what I was put on this planet to do, and the older I get, the more certain of that I am. When I was twenty two, I wanted to be in a band that was world famous, and successful beyond my imagination… like cover of Rolling Stones famous. Of course, I loved music and playing guitar then as I do today, but I had big aspirations. Now, my aspirations are a bit different, but just as big in their own ways. Gone is the desire for the RS cover, replaced with the desire to get to know all the players, producers and artists I can. People that have been on the cover of RS, and people who have not. The more I do this, the more I realize its about these experiences that I collect along the way. It's these experiences that make me rich, "famous", a better producer, a better writer and so on.

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If you are pondering whether or not to follow your musical talents and turn them into a career, let me be the first to tell you that it is 100% possible to make a living playing, writing and recording music. Let me also tell you, you better feel the need to pursue it from the bottom of your feet to the top of your head. In the age of "fair game" internet, and singing TV Show idolatries, more people than ever before feel they are worthy to pursue music as a profession, and maybe they all do, but it takes a particular kind of musician to maintain, and see the bigger picture through all the (temporary) set backs and frustrations. Being self employed can be tough, especially for musicians, who dare to make a living out of their art. But I'm here to say, if it is what you are called to do, if it is what you were put on this planet to do, be brave and do it. You can do it.

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone. Thanks for a great year Nashville! Thanks to all of you for taking time out of your busy lives to read this blog. There are a ton of things to look forward to in 2015, and I can't wait to share them with you all.

A Father of Four: Mixed Feelings (not about music) and Thanksgiving by Nick Bullock

What do you do when you see someone in need? Are they really in need? How can you tell? Does it matter? On Wednesday night, Meredith and I were leaving the parking lot of the local Kroger, finally heading home after a long day of shopping in prep for family coming over on Thanksgiving. I don't know about you, but when I spend more than three hours in two different grocery stores, my mental capacity and emotional stability begin to slip back to grade school levels. So, needless to say, I was ready to be home!

As we were taking a right out of the parking lot, I saw a man standing on the corner, holding a sign that read "father of four, please help", while two little girls sat on the ground, playing by his feet (seemingly quite content and for the brief second that I saw them, both were smiling as they played). Our conversation ceased for a moment, as we both saw the family, looking dingy and used, begging for help on the corner. I didn't slow down. I was instantly a jumble of feelings. I was frustrated, empathetic, angry, ashamed, and feeling sorry for those two little girls who are getting paraded around as bait for a few sympathy coins. Regardless of the apparent truth in their predicament, the kids, I thought, should not be used. What is this teaching them, that their situation is ok? Because, its not, it is anything but ok.

The topic of poverty is obviously a complicated one, rife with political strife, the squeeze of the middle class and racial undertones (or overtones) (to name a few of the more obvious complications). I don't pretend to know the answers, and I don't pretend to think that we can solve the problems easily (if at all), but I do know that we can choose how we behave, and take responsibility for our actions. So back to the car...

Meredith spoke next, about a block away... "I have cash"... I didn't answer right away, but clearly, I was still driving straight.

"We're not giving him cash" I say, and I keep driving. Meanwhile, the blood in my veins has started  to boil at the whole situation. Why doesn't he have a job? He can obviously stand there for hours a day, and hold a sign, so why can't he lift a paint brush? I'm sure he could figure something out. Does he make more money begging on the street than he would working manual labor, or a crummy job some where? Does he have substance abuse problems, or mental issues? Is he actually homeless, trying to care for himself and his children? Does he really have four, I only saw two? Is he a victim? Am I a complete ass hole for assuming the worse? Does it matter that I judge, or does it matter what I do? Am I blaming the victim? It seems so easy to blame him, yet its just as easy to blame the situation/system/circumstances. So who takes the responsibility? How can he pass this legacy on to his kids? How can he turn it around... damn! damn! damn!... these were just some of my thoughts.

Another block away, I ask Meredith, can we cook him and his family a big home made meal and bring it back? Yes, she says. We continue home, and after unloading the groceries, Meredith prepares a big meal, as well as some canned goods, and other stuff that we don't need, and I bring it back.

I really wanted to ask the man, "whats your name? whats your story?", and as I drove back, I pondered how I would deliver the goods... a quick roll down of the window, and hand him the bag? Or do I park, and get out, and shake his hand? I decided that I wanted to shake his hand, and feel out the appropriateness of asking his story in that moment. I wanted to know so I could put a face with a name, and a soul with a story.

They had left. They weren't there, and I couldn't give them what we made for them... I was bummed.

Did I fail? Should I have just rolled down the window, stuck out a dollar bill, and hand the cash off? I don't know his name, I don't know his situation, and I don't know if I'll ever see him again. I wish I would have acted faster.

If there is a next time, and I'm fortunate enough to see him again, at least I'll be prepared, and know what I want to do...

What would you have done?

ps: Happy belated Thanksgiving, it is moments like this that remind me of how much love I have in my life, and how truly rich that love makes me... and it's always a good thing to give thanks...

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Before and Now: One Year Left by Nick Bullock

IMG_3763 What would you do with only one year left to live? How would you live, what would you change? What are you meant to do with your life?

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz hadn't even started working for Starbucks till he was 29

Martha Stewart worked on Wall Street for five years before starting her brand.

At age 25 Mark Cuban was sleeping on a floor, sharing a three bedroom apartment, with five other guys.

John D Rockefeller made his billions early, but his life didn't really begin till he got deathly ill, was given a year to live, and decided he couldn't take his wealth with him to the grave. Philanthropy became his soul purpose in life, his true calling, and he lived for another 40 years giving his money away.

JK Rowling was diagnosed with clinical depression, and was married, had a child, and got divorced all before she got the first Harry Potter book published.

At 29 Oprah Winfrey moved to Chicago to host a local morning radio talk show.

My point in all of this is that we are not always in control of where the universe brings us. We are not always where we need to be, and we sometimes don't get what we want in life. But time and time again, I have seen with my own eyes, that life puts us right where we are meant to be. Do you think that any of the above people knew that they would end up where they did? No. They might have dreamt, and visualized, and prayed, and worked their asses off, but there are no certainties in life.

When I was 15 I wanted to be a professional point guard in the NBA. Just ask my friends... i even once told a friends mom that I would buy her a new car when I got drafted... they still like to remind that I owe them... I was devastated when I didn't make the team. Later that year I picked up the guitar.

We might not always get what we want, but almost always we get absolutely the best thing for us, even if we don't recognize it at the time.

So, if you had one year left, what would you do with your time?

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Inspiration from Movement, Songs and Ted Talks by Nick Bullock

dance 1 I got the opportunity to go to a Ted-X event here in Nashville this week, where the focus of each presenter was the creation process. Imagine people talking about everything from getting the audience involved at a concert to creating an instant feeling of communion with the people on stage, to how to best monetize your art, to encouraging community through art installations... all pretty great stuff, granted we've all heard it before... community, feelings, inspiration etc... but it's nice to be reminded... But before the talks even began there was the art itself, in the form of movement.

Now I work out on the regular (pretty much), so I can live longer, play music longer, feel good about myself... but these women (and one guy) have complete control of their bodies... a craft mastered over long and late hours practicing and rehearsing, as a group and as individuals. The thing that impressed me most was the choreography, and not just the steps and timing, but how the choreography used the dancers bodies. Someone had to "write" the dance, and when they did they decided to push some boundaries (at least to my untrained eye for dance) and push the performers... I wish I knew who did the choreography, I would shake their hand and tell them how it almost moved me to tears, how I was enraptured by their dance and what the performers could do with their bodies, and how it all tied together. Like any good song, it makes you feel.

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And thats what its all about. Connecting the audience with the emotions they already have inside of them... When I was watching the dancers move I started thinking about my father and my parents divorce for some reason. I have no idea why, but it brought me there... to the underbelly, and I felt vulnerable for a minute. Thats what a good song or performance of any kind can do.

I'm working with an artist right now who decided to bare his soul and tell his truth with the songs we're recording. It think a lot of song writers say they write their truth, but I think too few do the necessary digging... because it's hard, and it can be very painful. Later that same night, after the ted talk, we got a buddy to lay down some pedal steel on a couple of these songs for this particular artist and again I was reminded of the dancers I had witnessed... the movement of the pedal steel, the sound it creates whispers of movement... shapes and forms coming and going... another great performance...

So yeah, my tuesday was filled with community, feelings and inspiration... and it was awesome!

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One Year by Nick Bullock

   

Have you ever dared to start over, to begin anew, click the refresh button for your soul?

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It can be something that brings out an immense amount of excitement from deep within you, but can also have you trembling your ass off. It doesn't always happen overnight, it can take time for you to notice the winds calling. For me, there are voices in my head, the good kind, that yell at me over and over until finally I gather up enough courage to listen and take action.

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This September marked the one year anniversary of us moving to Nashville. It has been one of the best choices I have ever made, one of the best examples I can think about in my own life of gathering that courage, listening to those voices, and jumping off the cliff. I'm lucky, I didn't have to do it alone. I have the love of my life here to experience all of the ups and downs a year of transition can bring (a year of life can bring). I have supportive parents, a brother who is cheering me on, not to mention all the old friends from New York (and beyond), and all the new friends from Nashville (and beyond).

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It can be really hard (and scary) to start all over, especially being a musician in a place like this. One year in, moving to Nashville has already given me so many blessings that I would have missed out on if I lacked the wisdom to listen to those voices in my head. Thinking back on the week I've had, I've gotten to hang with a grammy award winning producer that I really respect and like, I've been reunited with an old tour friend, and gotten to meet some of the cool people he knows here in town, I've co-written two songs with two great songwriters, I had a great rehearsal with a band that I get to play guitar in, and I am going to top it off by recording and producing an EP for a great songwriter and friend this weekend, where I get to flex some new gear that I recently purchased for my studio. Oh, and I bought a new piano! This week is a direct result of the previous fifty one weeks that came before it, and all the aforementioned support that I've been lucky enough to have. And it makes me really excited, because if this is what fifty one weeks of hard work brings with it, then I can't wait to see what one hundred and four weeks bring! The courage it takes to dive untethered into new territory, is no small amount. But when we demand the most for ourselves and out of this one life we are given, the new roads we are called towards give us more in return than we thought possible.

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There are no guarantees in life, but i'm constantly amazed at the gifts each new turn in the road can bestow for anyone daring enough to drive blind around a corner.

You can do it.

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Bedrest, It Makes You Think by Nick Bullock

I had to go get an unexpected outpatient surgery yesterday. I was fine on Tuesday night,  and when I woke up on Wednesday I was in so much pain that I could barely walk or sit. I'll spare y'all the details, but it was not comfortable. So I found myself yesterday in the capable hands of a surgeon. And later that afternoon, I was gratefully walking back to the car with much relief. So yes, I am fine.

But it made me reflect on the things we take for granted, and those of us that are lucky to have healthy bodies, more often than not take for granted the gifts that our healthy bodies bring. There are so many minor miracles that need to happen in order for you to bend down, pick up a guitar, take hold of the guitar with your hand, swing it up on your lap using your muscles in your arms, take your right thumb and arm and strum the strings while your brain and your left hand communicate exactly how and exactly where to place each one of your fingers on the fret board, all at the right time. Do you know how many electrical pulses are being sent to and from your nervous system, to your muscles, to your brain and back again. I'm no scientist, but I know that it isn't a simple procedure.

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Have you ever stopped to wonder about the mysteries that are right there in front of us every day? What gives you the voice you have? What gives you the ears you use? And how do they all work.

It's easy to lay on the couch all day, and ponder this all, because, lets face it, Netflix only has so many interesting movies to watch, eventually you get bored and start to think about stuff...

My challenge, and one that I bestow upon you, the reader, is to remain mystified by it all, especially when you are healthy. It is up to us to not take for granted the beauty of hearing an old vintage Gibson being plucked, because with out the ears on your head, you would have no way of knowing that beauty. And without the ability to strum, you wouldn't know the joy that it brings.

Thanks for reading.

Fame vs Great by Nick Bullock

I'm on vacation. I'm staring at wave after wave crashing onto the sandy beach. I'm a lucky guy to be able to witness the millions of little happenings, lets call them experiments, that have over a long period of time brought about this particular sandy beach, ocean tide and sun shine into one masterful experience. I wasn't going to write a blog this week, but then I started reading The Rise by Sarah Lewis. I love vacations for lots of reasons, but at the top of my list, it allows me to kick back and enjoy catching up on reading and writing. Last time I had a couple of days of vacation I gave myself a challenge to finish three songs by the end of my four days off, this time, I'm being a little more relaxed about it all, not searching for perfection, but enjoying the process, and trusting it. photo-9

The Rise, at least so far, seems to be about the gifts that mistakes can bring to an artist or creative person as they develop. How mistakes, one by one, get us closer to achieving our goals as creatives. And that without them, we are worse off. Maybe a better way of saying that is it's not about the destination, it's about the journey (that old cliche!). I, as some may know, am not always a patient person when it comes to my career/creativity/destination vs journey... I'm not always patient with my own course of development.

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We as creative American citizens/artists/entrepreneurs can and should be pushing every envelope we are given. We should be striving for excellence, and fumbling on the way. We should not expect the world to stop for our genius, we should instead seek to never stop ourselves from striving to discover our own genius. It is not about fame or money, it is about mastery. Perfection is a concept that is unachievable, and mastery is a noun, that brings forth memories of actions taken. Mastery is born from the ability to make mistakes and learn from them, again and again and again. I'm reminded of The Gap, an idea that was first brought to my attention by Ira Glass (http://vimeo.com/85040589). The Gap is the space between our current abilities and what we see our true selves being capable of, to put it simply.

I never knew that Michelangelo was famous for leaving works unfinished. But it makes sense. If completion is the objective then what is an artist to do once the job is done, cease being an artist? I know that with every song that I have written and recorded I am only giving it up to be released or to be put down on tape because I am ready to say goodbye and walk away from an imperfect and incomplete idea or concept. No song is ever finished really. I could and sometimes do drive myself crazy with nitpicking my work to death. Sometimes, more often than not, I am needing to move on, so the song is "done". This is how I track my idea of mastery, this is how I grow. And really, my ultimate goal is not to write a hit song, or produce a hit record, it is to be a master of my craft, a master of my tools. That is what really turns me on, and what gets me going.

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And when I'm able to remember that I really do what I do (write, play, and produce music) because I love the inevitable discovery process that comes with wanting to master such crafts, I am able to take a deep breath, trust the process, enjoy the waves, breath, enjoy my book, and look forward with excitement to the good work that I am going to continue when I get back in my studio.

When I moved to Nashville, it wasn't so I could be a star, I moved there because that was where the biggest musical masters were from. So yes by all means, follow your dreams, start a business, start a band, paint a picture, try out for The Voice, move to NYC or Nashville, be an athlete. But do so for the love of the work, not to seek fortune and fame. Those things are fleeting. Do the world a favor, and seek to be a master. That is where greatness truly lies. That is what inspires people to change their lives and the lives of others for the better. The world needs more masters, maybe now more than ever.

A Case Study: "Say Yes" by Elliott Smith by Nick Bullock

elliott4 One of the best songwriters maybe ever. I don't think everyone gets him, at least not at first, but when he hooks you, his genius unfolds. It's not just the words, its the twists of melody and harmony, and how the notes and chords sweep the words along. I'm a big fan, obviously, but if you are unfamiliar, do your self a favor and check it out. I started with the album XO, and my writing, production and taste in music hasn't been the same since... all for the better I like to believe.

Case Study: Say Yes by Elliott Smith

A cold start and a nice descending chord progression played on acoustic... simple right, almost seems like its just another folkie doing his thing.

I'm in love with the world trough the eyes of a girl  Who's still around the morning after

Then the acoustic guitar becomes two acoustic guitars, panning immediately in time for the second half of this first verse. You also have an electric guitar appearing too, with his voice being doubled as well... maybe this isn't so cookie cutter after all. And I want to point out the lyrical/rhythmic phrasing here, without getting too music geeky, its so easy to follow along, and sing along... and the words are pretty straight forward and honest... simple and honest usually wins for me. More on that below.

We broke up a month ago and i grew up i didn't know I'd be around the morning after 

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Followed by the guitar playing the melody, panned on the right side still, then the second verse. Same simplistic beauty as the first. Again, that phrasing, and I love how the first three notes of the melody start by going up in register, as the guitar/bass line is moving down... yay for counterpoint! In general, the melody has more upward movement too.

It's always been wait and see A happy day and then and then you pay  And feel like shit the morning after  But know i feel changed around and instead falling down  I'm standing up the morning after 

Then the bridge, instrumentally, pretty much the same thing is happening... the doubling of the vocals, the electric guitar panned right, the acoustic doubled with one more or less down the middle, and the 2nd one panned to the left. That electric guitar is almost playing more lead type stuff, nice double stops... Also, worth it to mention that the bridge, depending on how you count it, is a five measure phrase.

Situations get fucked up and turned around sooner or later 

And then back to a quick verse: This is the first time in the song that he gives away his control, "you tell me"... I never knew what to make about that line, is he resigned to his role, resigned to play the fool, and he just doesn't care, or is there something more... the next section, I think, answers this, but I always wondered about this lyric, as if this is the point in the song where the main character is teetering... whats going to happen?

And I could be another fool or an expection to the rule  You tell me the morning after 

The second bridge! He harmonizes with himself, which he does really well, does it with two voices an octave apart too, which is a little bit different than what you would normally do... in a classic pop sense anyways... Other than that, it's the chord changes, and the extension of the bridge and phrase that is so cool, especially on the word "is" (and notice the electric guitar mimicking the vocals there too)... any you guitar playing songwriters out there, check that second chord out (thats how you use an augmented chord!). Lyrically, this is where he answers my earlier question, to me anyways... its not up to him who loves him and who doesn't. Just like its not up to me who loves me and who doesn't, who cares for me and who doesn't... these are all things out of my control, but we still have to ask. It's worth it in the end, even after the rejection, to ask someone to care for us, to ask someone to say yes. This moment right here, this is why I love this song, and its arguably one of my favorites by one of my favorite songwriters. Simple. Vulnerable.

Crooked spin can't come to rest  I'm damaged bad at best She'll decide what she wants I'll probably be the last to know  No one says until it shows and you see how it is They want you or they don't, Say Yes.

elliott2

And how does he end the song? With a dash of optimism... i think. And wraps it all up in barely over two minutes.

I'm in love with the world trough the eyes of a girl Who's still around the morning after

If you're a fan, there is a new documentary on Elliott called Heaven Adores You, you can find more info  here:  https://www.facebook.com/HeavenAdoresYou

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGB8meDWQeQ

What song or artist should I do next??

 

Some Words with Music Band from Nashville TN by Nick Bullock

Hello from the road/tour! One of the best things about living in Nashville is the incredible talent that you are surrounded with everyday. It can be daunting, but mostly I find it extremely inspirational, and enlightening. It helps me clarify what and why I do what I do with my musical career.

Music Band is probably my favorite band in Nashville, and and I only say probably because I'm very aware of my own tendency to get super excited when I bear witness to great musicians singing great songs... Music Band is positively great. I've gotten the opportunity to see them a bunch since moving to Nashville, and under full disclosure, I've have the great fortune of knowing them personally for the last three or four years... And to sum up my feelings, last time I saw them, I immediately went home and wrote a song that was very inspired by them. And for me, whenever someone makes me want to go home, pick up my guitar and start writing, I'm all in. That, is true inspiration. Thanks for that Lee, Harry and Duncan.

Enjoy the interview!

MB 2

Nick Bullock Music: What is your favorite thing about the Nashville music scene?

Music Band: The music scene here had been gaining momentum well before we moved here two and a half years ago. Really steaming, cooking with gas. It's like a big steam engine ripping through a residential intersection at 3 in the morning and the driver is all coked out and fucked up just laying on the whistle because he hates his life and wants to ruin everyone's night. That actually might be one of my least favorite things, when a train sounds its horn for way too long and you're just too close to it. It cuts right to my core, enough for me to shout out loud, "SHUT THE FUCK UP!" every time I hear it. Damn, it makes me so mad. But the Nashville music scene does not make me feel this way. We got mad respect for these streets and these peeps here. Mostly everyone who plays music here rules, and I think that's because it's the kind of town that if you come here and don't have any respect for the folks who have been holding it down OG-style then you're liable to get yourself banished. Sorry, but that's just the way it is. It's "Music City" and people have been doing this for as long as anything here. That's what's cool about Nashville. It doesn't matter what kind of music you're into because you should be able to appreciate the real heads who are on their grind. It's funny to go to shows here, and a lot of touring bands I meet will lament about this, but a lot of the time when Nashville people are watching bands they don't move around much. I think it's not because everyone's jaded on music but it's more because everyone is a musician in their own right and are actually watching the band, I mean having a real peek-see, and I can respect that.
NBM: How do you balance the artistic/creative side of being in a band with the business side of being in a band?
MB: We've been pretty much doing our own business since the beginning, so it's not really something we think about much anymore. Although lately there have been more business-related things going on for us, it's fun to learn how it's done, and I think we're fortunate to have some guidance from our friends who know what they're doing. Everyone in a band is always like, "I just want to play, man. The music industry is killing me. Etc." but we're quickly learning that if you can't deal with the business side of things then, well, what the hell? Music ain't a hobby. Not for the real heads, at least. If you're actually trying to make money or a career out of this then you gotta learn how the shit works, even if it's learning by trial and error. I think it gets to a point where the creative side of playing music is sort of like the "reward" for everything else. Or at least that seems like a good situation. I guess it's something we've just had to start balancing out of necessity.

NBM: How do songs come into creation for the band?
MB: Most of the time one of us will work on the structure of a song alone and then bring it to the the rest of the band in practice and we'll spend a few days working it out, trying different things. A lot of the songs on our new tape "Can I Live" actually came out of fucking around at our old practice space, as bands are wont to do. Some of my favorite songs we have just came up off the dome from a late-night "jam", as corny as that sounds. Once we have a song though, we spend a lot of time tweaking it and working on dynamics, harmonies, etc. usually by recording a demo at home and seeing what we like/don't like. Lyrics are really important to me (Harry), and so that's often one thing I personally start with.

 

NBM: Do you have an end goal, a big picture you are shooting for?

MB: To become immortal, and then, die.

NBM: What about being in a band excites you the most? What are you working on now? How is the process going (how did it go)?
MB: Live shows are the best. Going on the road. Meeting people, meeting other bands. Good audiences. Makin' em laugh. Free meals. Being in the van just getting all crazy. Figuring out a new song and being really excited about it. Recording. Takin' a peek-see at mixes in the studio (shout-out to Andrija at Bomb Shelter). Venues that really know how to treat musicians, and not that bullshit where you show up and everyone working there is like "I don't even want to be here tonight. What's even going on?" Havin' a plate of Lil' Smokies in the morning. Fun doggies. Seeing our parents on tour. Putting friends on "the list" due to mad respect. 

 

MB 1

Check out their new release "Can I Live" a cassette release on Infinity Cat: http://infinity-cat-recordings.myshopify.com/collections/music-band

You can listen/stream there stuff here: http://musicband.bandcamp.com

For music info/shows etc go here: https://www.facebook.com/musicband.gov

Support Local Music!

What Nashville band should I interview next?

Play For Me... by Nick Bullock

famwash

Hi, Musician on stage... I'm here, I'm the only guy in the room... can't you see me? I'm listening, I'm clapping, I'm engaged in your music... this is your soul, remember, and I am liking your soul... hello? I don't need or want you to stare at me the whole time, thats just creepy, but some eye contact would be nice when I'm the only one clapping. Just saying.

And at the end of the show, come say hi, because I stayed, I am still here, and I'm not counting the wasted girl who is flashing the bartender, or the drunk dude passed out and slowly sliding off his stool, they doesn't count. Lets talk, and get to know each other a little bit.

I was hanging at the Family Wash over on the East side in Nashville, which is quickly becoming one of my favorites spots to hang, and saw a band there in this exact context. And you know what, the singer made eye contact, and came over and said hello, and thanked me for being the only one paying attention.

It makes a difference.

A little eye contact goes a long way.

 

 

The American Dream: Just Do it (Happy 4th of July) by Nick Bullock

4th of July

Sometimes as a musician-artist, knowing what to do next can be a struggle. Questions like "How do we build our team? Who can help us get where we want to go? Where are our cheerleaders? How can I get a pub deal or record deal?" etc. These were all questions that to one extent or another, I used to ask myself all the time when I was in a full time band. And sometimes I still do. The bad news is that no two music success stories are truly the same. The good news, however, is that every one of those success stories have the same DNA, the same essence. People say you should do A to get to B, which gets you to C, then to D etc... that is all great, and you should absolutely check out what the experts say and do, after all, they're experts!

But you must remember, the best idea to get your band signed, or get that publishing deal, is always going to come from you. You have to do it, and the good news here is that you are very capable. You will need to think better and more creatively than you ever have before, and you will be tried and tested like never before. It will not be easy. I'll say it again, you already know what to do. You have all the cool, crazy and unique ideas that you will ever need, you just need to fish them out.

It's a business, and you must really understand that, even as an artist. Respect the business side of it, know that people are out there doing it so they can feed their families, know that people are out there busting their ass so they can put a roof over their head. You will need to be one of those people busting your ass. But you already know this. The most important thing is that you do it, start it, what ever it is for you. Start recording all the time, start uploading your videos, start working with smart people... what ever it is, do it. That is the only way that you will ever accomplish anything. Don't wait, do it.

Happy 4th of July. Three cheers for the american dream, all of them.

 

 

A Case Study: The War on Drugs, Red Eyes by Nick Bullock

My wife and I started a new tradition this past week, our date night has become a weekly record listening party for two. We'll go to the local record store (last week was Grimey's, on 8th Ave here in Nashville), pick out a vinyl, and go back home. We'll lay a blanket on the living room floor, picnic style, set up the speakers so we're in the sweet spot, and dig in. Last week was my turn to pick, and I grabbed a record that I have been meaning to listen to since March. We were swept away. WOD1

I saw The War on Drugs about three years ago maybe, back when I lived in Ithaca, and I fell in love with them. I know I'm in love because whenever I do fall, I always walk away with a sense of "That is what I want to do", and that is exactly what happened three years ago. And, it is with that in mind that I chose this song for my next case study... here we go :)

Intro: super cool, I love the synth sound, and instantly you get a pulse for the song, the drums enter with the bass, the bari sax, and a guitar playing some pentatonic tastiness... then the vs starts...

I'm not sure what exactly he is talking about here, but it doesn't matter. That is one of the things I love about rock n roll, yes you tell a story, but it is just as much an audio story as it is a lyrical one. What I mean by that is the music serves the lyrics, and vice versa... they make sense together. It's not about one, its about them both, together.

"Where are we This everything On my knees To beat it down To get to my soul I guessed my way Anyone can tell it's you coming But baby, don't mind Leave it on a lie Leave it your own way"

At this point its obvious that the acoustic guitar and drums are really serving as the back bone, pushing the song along at a nice pace, cruising, accompanied by their big brother the bass, and happy for the company. They are there, watching the spectacle of lights that the synths, and the guitars create, and making sure no one gets hurt.

The piano is nice in the verse too... buried a little bit in the mix, but it's there...  a nice texture.

The verse has a cool 2/4 to 4/4 meter rotation... kind if spinning on itself, you can certainly count it all in 4, but it's more fun to throw some 2's in there, I think :)

And I love the sound that he got on his voice... nice reverb/delay etc. I like how the vocals really sit nicely.

Then you have some interlude material that is pretty much the same as the intro. Is that a leslie effect on the three note guitar lick?? It happens too quick.

The 2nd verse pretty much maintains the pace of the 1st verse, with a nicely added guitar that doubles the vocal and synth line in there for a real quick second...

Which leads to my favorite part! This isn't so much a solo as it is a "lets get really excited for a minute"... they are pulling at us, teasing us, saying you know you love the momentary intensity here, and you know you love it because it's fleeting... nice guitar playing, brief though it be. All over the same chords as the vs:

2/4 I | 4/4 IV | IV | vi- V | 2/4 I | IV | IV || for those of you who care... then the breakdown.

WOD2

It's nice, swelling organ, really great sound... and still the drums, at first without the acoustic strumming its reassurances, then it builds. The acoustic shows up again. The bari sax is back, did it ever leave? Man, that organ sounds so good. I miss being in a band with an organ player. There might be some percussion back there in the mix too, can't tell. The singing starts again, and we are jolted into another solo section, which repeats the themes from the earlier... almost feels like a chorus really, on this second repeat of it... I guess it really isn't a real solo section after all... more of a chorus. And the piano returns!!! All the while, he sings for us. It's an intimate kind of vocal performance, very familiar... I think I can relate to the feeling in his voice... it's part conversational.

It's amazing to me how good all this sounds. Like really, really good. The drums are clear, the piano doesn't sound too tin-y... the vocals... This song really just transported me away. I can't think of a better song to listen to while laying down on the floor with the lights low and closing your eyes.

For me, it's just magic. And it as I write this I have three thoughts: 1. That is what I want to do. 2. I love my wife for having such an awesome idea for our weekly date night (yes, that was her idea!) and 3. I have a studio, and it is calling my name... inspiration indeed!!!

 

What song should I do next?

 

 

Playing a guitar solo on the back of a motorcycle... by Nick Bullock

cloud I get it, they go super fast, and the rush... man, it's addicting! I was on the back of a bike for the first time last week, sweeping through the Dragons Tale in North Carolina and Tennessee. If you like to ride, then you know The Dragons Tale. (After I said a few Hail Mary's) I was blown away by how oddly safe I felt once I got used to the glide of the bike. In a somewhat strange way, it reminded me of a great guitar solo. In it's breakneck pace, the sudden turns, the leaning in with your body, the speeding in and out of a curve, the tension of unforeseen scenarios that a driver will encounter, and the ability to deftly handle any precarious situation he is given. The driver must be zen at all times, flowing with the curves, and at the same time keeping a watchful eye for anything that might disrupt the pace.

A great guitar solo (or any instrument for that matter) does the same things, staying in the moment, trusting your instinct, hearing when the music "turns", keeping your technique relaxed at all times. They even made a books out of it... (Zen Guitar and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance). And like the driver of the motorcycle, the driver of the solo needs to be aware of many things at once, all while keeping that improvisational wonder. Where is the drummer, pushing the beat, pulling the beat or riding the middle? What did the keys player just play, what chord extension was that? Where are we going? Am I taking the audience with me? Am I leading us up the mountain, sweeping around curves, or am I just sitting letting the bike idle?

I could talk for years about what scales go with what chords, and what you could do by superimposing a triad over another chord. I can talk about dotted rhythms, triplets, playing over the bar lines, extending phrases and  the simplistic beauty of the one note solo, but really, a good solo simply moves us to feel alive and excited. It comes from passion, and the freedom to risk falling on your face combined with the confidence to be able to take any turn in the road.

What do you do that gives you that same freedom?

Gerry

Refresh and Reset by Nick Bullock

Last week, my wife and I went on our first honest to god vacation since our honey moon, over two years ago. And I'm talking about the "lets get a way and have some fun in the sun" kind of vacation. photo-2

Meredith challenged me to write three complete songs, and be able to perform them to her by the end of the stay. The stakes were high, back rubs and getting out of kitty litter duties were on the line. I wrote the bulk of the songs by the end of the second day... I won :)

photo-3

I was reminded how healing vacations can be.

Whenever Thomas Edison had a problem he couldn't solve, he took a nap. And inevitably when he awoke he was able to solve the problem that plagued him earlier.

Vacations can reset your creative juices, and give you more energy and a new perspective on your creativity and your process. I can't remember the last time I had a care free afternoon to just do nothing but write music. When I did, my brain exploded with song ideas, and I was able to take the time and get them all down.

So, take a restful vacation, and if you can't right now, take a nap every now and again (or whatever your version of Edison's nap is).

When was the last time you had a good solid get a way? What insights did it give you?

photo-4

 

 

Bob Marley, Redemption and Me by Nick Bullock

I'm not really a fan of Reggae, as I'm sure my old friends (and old band mates especially) can attest to, especially living in such a small hippie town for so long before moving here to Nashville. It often seemed like it was everywhere in little ol Ithaca NY. It's not that it isn't good, there is some great stuff out there, especially some of the older recordings, but in general, I always felt distant from it. Maybe I was just over saturated with it at one point and got jaded. But once upon a time, when I first stared to play the guitar, I learned Bob Marley's Redemption Song. The intro lick was easy, but for the beginner still posed a little bit of a challenge, and the chords were all nice and simple. It was, and still is a great camp fire song. And truth be told, I had heard Dave Matthews perform it, so it was obvisouly cool (does Dave Matthews count as a guilty pleasure now?). This was when I was young, impressionable, and susceptible to the hippie jam band culture, and I inhaled it all whole for a long while. Only to reject my younger musical ways as I got older and grew into my own skin.

Which brings me to last night, as I'm driving my car home and listening to the radio. When the song starts to play and I hear that opening guitar lick, my immediate instinct is to switch the station, and my hand reached out to do so. But for some reason I stopped, hand hanging in the air, half way to the radio dial. I started to listen, really listen again. And the words cut through all the bullshit in my mind. I was reminded again of what I knew at such a young age, the lyrics are genius, and even more so moving. Not because they are clever, or hip, but because they are honest, and go way beyond the initial meaning. And I'm not going ot really get into what that initial meaning is, or pretend to understand the mind and soul of another man and his intentions for writing a song, but I will say that the lyrics are undeniably universal. And I was reminded that maybe some things from my past are worth rediscovering, and that I should suspend my auto-discard impulse response. Who knows, maybe I'll dust off the old patch work pants... probably not.

What stories from "yesterday" can teach you something new "today"? What songs have new meaning to you in your life today?

Bob 2

photo taken off the internet, not from me :)

 

Everyday by Nick Bullock

Everyday: read a book in your field

write a song

songwrtng

teach someone younger than you

teach

listen to your favorite vinyl record

vinyl

go to a house show

houseshow

go to a big concert

bigshow

kiss your wife, husband, boyfriend or girlfriend

tell a friend you love them

schedule a coffee meeting with someone you admire

Calenadar

learn something new about gear

gear

look for a mentor

go to the gym

record music with your friends

studio

smell the flowers

flowers 7

...or, if you're like me, take a breath, and do what you can today, and trust the process.