While I’m assembling & wiring I like to listen to documentaries and interviews. While listening to an interview of Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh, he said something that constantly surfaces in my mind while I do what I do. “If we get off on what we’re doing, the crowd will get off too.” The crowd in his case is the receiver (collectively) of the band’s – and his as a part of it – creative process. You are “my” crowd; you as an individual are the receiver of the result of my creative process.
I get off on what I do.
Life and its variety of paths and people gives us all choices. For example, even if I can’t fathom how anybody could enjoy digging a ditch, there are plenty that enjoy doing it and a few that absolutely love it. Those are the ones that should be digging ditches… and that’s the guy I want digging mine. If I can afford his ditch – he’s probably an expert at it and most likely carves out a great one, accurate and with a lot of attention to detail, a ditch that’s just about a work of art in its own way – then I either want that or that part of it doesn’t matter to me. A hole in the ground? Meh, I can find that anywhere. And if what’s going into it matters neither to me nor the digger, it’ll probably be really cheap too. I don’t want a “missing witness” hole, I want a “corner pillar of a temple” hole.
I’ll pay for care. I’ll pay extra for passion, reputation, and to support a shoveler who goes the extra mile. Same with cooking and food, planting and gardening, or even any of the kind of services I engage from this side of the screen to help me do what I do and get it to you. I assure you I pay a premium for every one involved because I don’t want “Just a hole in the ground” mentality anywhere near or in what I build. Not only does that potentially compromise the “product” for you, it compromises the experience for me!
I get off on what I do. I’m supposed to.
The smell of the workshop, the feel of familiar tools in my hand, the working of the wood. The banter with parts suppliers I’ve known since before Birdsong was even a dream. The others who help make it happen & keep it rolling on. Having the honor of guiding and assisting clients through the process – answering questions, brainstorming up their instrument, their special custom dish off the menu. The build process in the shop from picking out the wood to laying out the idea, through cutting and planing and jointing and gluing, carving and shaving and routing and sanding, onto my uncle Pat’s old bench where I rub in the oil finish coats, into assembly where it gets its voice and sings for the first time... setup, careful packing, and down the road it goes.
It’s not so much that I get to do what I love for a living and others don’t ha ha, it’s that folks like me in little workshops everywhere can offer the rest something more with their product, something more IN their product, and a special connection between the craftsperson and the end user. Our hands to your hands. Our life to your life. And we like to think that while serving you it also brings some of the magic from our spaces and days to mingle with the magic of yours… that it somehow seasons the soup of your life in special moments. Beyond the exchange by which I eat off of what you’ll be playing on, much deeper than that run the ripples where you honor my teachers’ teachers’ teachers with every note and you thank me by sharing it with others. And for that I thank you!
One little man with a spokeshave and a dream,
Listening to: George Harrison All Things Must Pass; live Phil Lesh & Friends; Eddie Trunk podcasts; bhajans; Jim Hall Live (a favorite) and Frank Zappa Road Tapes