Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Success or Failure by J.P. Bowie

Oh God, so many goals unrealized, so many failed attempts to make $10 million dollars before I was thirty! Just kidding of course. I think if there is one goal unrealized it was my dream of being a successful jazz singer. Do not laugh please! The raw talent is (was) there, just the actual opportunity was missing. When I was treading the boards, as we in the biz say - okay I know that deserves a slap - I enjoyed being in musicals. The rehearsals, the camaraderie, the bonds built between other singers and dancers, however fleeting, I still remember with great fondness, but I always had that urge to go it alone - to be out there on a stage, small or stupendous, a live jazz orchestra behind me, singing and swinging with the best of them.

Alas, that only happened once or twice in my career, but those moments of sheer joy live on in my memory, and always will. It's so darned difficult to make a name in show biz, legit or otherwise. Yes, I know that sometimes it feels like we are bombarded with faceless, far too young to be away from their parents, so called singers or actors and all the in-betweens. Sometimes when I'm standing in line at the supermarket checkout I can't help but stare at the magazine headlines screaming about the goings on between Kristen and Justin and Bobby and Sue... Sue who? I don't know these people and I wonder, was this their goal to be splattered all over the front page of some trashy tabloid looking like they just fell out of bed?

With so many reality shows like American Idol, America's Got Talent, and The Voice filling up so much space on our televisions, I did for a moment or two think - gosh, I wish these shows had been around when I was young and struggling to make a name for myself. Then I think out of all the thousands of hopefuls who have appeared on those shows over what seems like countless years, how many can we actually remember? In this day and age of disposable talent, even winners can be quickly forgotten.

I was definitely born into the wrong age. I should have been alive in the twenties and thirties, in the Jazz Age when swing was king, big bands with sensational singers were on the road and television was not the focal point of everyone's (almost everyone's) lives.

Okay, so I didn't make it as a jazz singer - although my neighbors might wonder what the hell that weird guy on the top floor is rehearsing for -  but at least I've made somewhat of a name in writing. When I started out putting pen to paper, or rather putting words on my pc screen , I dreamed of one day having some of my books on a shelf in an actual bookstore. I have realized that goal at least, so I don't feel so bad. Still wish I could've sung with Ella or Peggy, though.

12 comments:

  1. Maybe you should turn your goal into a story, JP - if you haven't done that already.

    Actually your post reminded me of a long-time goal that I probably won't realize at this point (because my voice has gone to hell as I've gotten older), namely to sing in a Gilbert & Sullivan musical. I've always wanted to play the role of Mad Margaret!

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    1. My mother loved Gilbert and Sullivan. All the lyrics are gone from my memory now except for this ear worm courtesy of General Mills:

      Oh sing a song of Captain Crunch
      The cereal that's fun to munch
      It's great for breakfast and even lunch
      And no amount of milk will make it lose it's crunch
      (no amount of milk will make it lose it's crunch)
      So all a shore that's going to shore
      Get Captain Crunch at your grocery store.

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    2. I actually have written a couple of novellas about life upon the wicked stage, drawn from some real experiences and a dash of fiction thrown in. Fun to write!

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  2. J.P.

    As a non musical person (atonal as described by a choir leader) I have observed that people with music in them seem to be more joyous. Maybe you didn't make it to the big stage, but music may have brought you more joy than you know.

    I bought a music appreciation course some years ago from an outfit called "The Great Courses". The instructor postulates that what we hear as chords are fundamental harmonies reverberating throughout the universe. So you got that going for you.

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    1. Yes, I do think that either listening to or engaging in music can definitely carry you away to a better place, if only for the length of the piece - that wasn't meant as a double entendre!

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  3. Even if you didn't make it big, JP, not many talents do. Talent seems to come second to sheer manufactured fame. I still laugh about the uproar a few years ago, when Esperanza Spalding won Best New Talent, and all the Justin Bieber fans were pissed off.

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  4. Ah, those days of treading the boards in faux Victorian (and even faux-er Japanese) drag! I did actually perform in three Gilbert and Sullivan operettas in my younger days. Much, much younger days. Junior High School, in fact. (We had a very ambitious music teacher, and a real stage complete with bevy curtain in our town hall.) We did Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado (I had a minor role as Pitti Sing) and HMS Pinafore (I was Little Buttercup, because the one real singer in our midst refused to play anything but a romantic lead, so she sat stout.) Such nostalgia! I never aspired to make it as a performer, though. I was more interested in writing plays than acting in them--but I haven't done that since Junior High, either.

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    1. I'm jealous! My parents first exposed me to G&S when I was five. I grew up singing "Tit Willow" and "If someday it may happen that a victim must be found..." and "When you're lying awake..."

      My siblings and I used to do our own theatricals for the adults, hanging a curtain between the columns in the basement.

      But my only performance experience, other than singing in choruses and choirs - oh, and belly dancing - was playing a witch in Tom Stoppard's "Dog's Hamlet, Cahoot's Macbeth".

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  5. Lisabet, Stoppard definitely trumps junior high G&S! Except for the music part. I did sing in choruses and glee clubs in high school and college, and then later in a community choral society, but all that is very long ago.

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    1. I had two lines LOL. But I got to wear lots of makeup!

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  6. Well, you are certainly a handsome guy, judging by your pic in 'About Us'. A bit like Kurt Elling, I'd say.

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  7. When you reminisce about these things, you always make them sound awesome, though I'm sure it was frustrating at the time not to be getting where you wanted to be. I'll have to look for your showbiz-related stories. I'm sure you inject them with the same romantic nostalgia.

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