I’ve realized something about my solo performances. I keep trying to be as loud as I can. I keep trying to add in as many elements as possible to get the biggest sound. I keep trying to be more than I am. That last one may sound like an admirable trait, but in this context it is damned near debilitating. To never reach that full sound I want is maddening. It causes me to doubt not just the sound, but my ability to perform and the songs themselves. It sucks.
And then this weekend I watched the Netflix film Springsteen on Broadway. Let me say that I am not a fan of the Boss. I just don’t get it. There are a few exceptions though. “I’m on Fire” and “The Ghost of Tom Joad” are undeniably great songs. But from where I stand, they seem to be the antithesis of “Born to Run” or “Born in the USA.” His voice was somewhat of a turn off, and I hated their cover of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” But I’ve heard a lot of people talk about Mr. Springsteen’s broadway production and thought this would be an opportunity to listen with fresh ears. I’m glad I did. While I’m by no means a convert, I can now appreciate what it is that he does. Hearing his stories, his solo acoustic guitar, imperfect strumming, and stripped down arrangements was refreshing for me. It was like watching a masterclass on “Solo Acoustic Performance and Storytelling.” There was a lot of silence in this film, all of it very purposeful. Needless to say, I took some notes.
And after all of this, I realize that I have never had a problem being loud. I can play bombastically without issue to nearly any room. But I get most stage fright when I know things will be quiet. I think it’s because I am afraid that everyone will hear each and every one of my mistakes and imperfections. If the performance is quiet and I blank on a lyric, everyone will hear. It’s hard for me. But I now know that I need to have confidence and the courage to be quiet. I need to trust myself and my songs. I need to give myself permission to make mistakes. I need to accept that I will make mistakes, and that’s ok. Fortune favors the brave.