Barry Power

Offical Site of Melodic Indie songwriter Barry Power.

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038. Whats in a name?

It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.
— W.C. Fields

Words can be so powerful, and none more so than the words we use to describe ourselves. The titles we choose to assign ourselves represent who it is we think we are. What we don’t always realise, is that held within these titles are limitations. Self imposed ideas of what we think these titles represent. Although this could be part of a much broader discussion. I’m interested in how it applies to us creative types. 

I am a guitar player. That is a name I have self assigned for more than 20 years of my life but what does that even mean? Well for me it means that I live and die by what I think of as being a good player. This of course is a total fallacy built completely on my own pre-conceived notions of what I think a good guitar player should actually be.

If I sit behind a drum kit I don’t suddenly identify myself as a drummer. However through this I am totally free to express myself on that instrument however way I want to. I can’t possibly fail because I can’t play these things anyway. There is freedom in being ignorant to all the vaults of preconception rattling around in my head that goes along with being somewhat proficient at something. 

I recently had to learn a song for a gig. The guitar part wasn’t particularly difficult but I just couldn’t figure out exactly what was going on. The reason I think was because whoever wrote the part wasn’t using traditional concepts. I don’t think they were being clever. I think it was probably due to that they didn’t learn the guitar in systematic logical way using regular scales and voicings.  This created something really unique that a so called self identified guitar player may never even think of. They made something new from a non-learned place. 

For the past few months I have been working on starting a new podcast and practicing for more regular content for my YouTube channel. I am becoming more aware that to be a modern musician requires a more holistic approach which means I need to become more comfortable with many many more titles. To become a full stack creative, so to speak, a jack of all trades, a digital renaissance man.

My plan for when I am trying to launch all these new things, that I can’t really do yet, is to try not greet them with a sense of inadequacy. Instead, embrace them with that feeling of discovery and fearlessness, like sitting behind a drum kit and not being able to play it but being cool with that. Not to put a cap on myself that a pre-ordained title would bring but to leverage that feeling when it comes to maneouvering this ever changing landscape of the utility man.

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037. Accentuate The Positive

I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.
— Vincent Van Gogh

The negativity bias is the idea that whenever we are presented with two equal choices one positive and one negative we tend to favour the negative much more often than it’s counterpart. It seems we are just wired this way. Somewhere down along the evolutionary ladder biology decided we needed to be more sensitive to the bad than the good.

Recently I posted a video of me performing a song. The post did pretty well and had loads of comments saying very nice things. Except for one which of course stood out above the rest, this one comment said the music was derivative and they basically didn’t like it. Now the rational mind goes “Thats cool, it’s the internet you’ll get things like that, don’t worry” But it stayed with me more so than the many more positive comments. 

I realised that it happens all the time. For instance If I play a gig, I might not remember the ten songs that I played perfectly but you can bet that I'll remember the one where I fluffed a note or sang out of tune.

I have been thinking about this all week and how it relates in general to the way I work. I Wrote the first draft of this blog on Tuesday. I wasn’t happy with the idea so I scrapped it. This happens quite regularly so I didn’t think too much about it. I tried again on Wednesday and the same result. By Thursday the negativity bias kicked in and I didn’t even try because I had presupposed that whatever I wrote was bound to be really bad.

The thing I really want to know is, is the negativity bias useful? Does it really keep you getting better at something in a constructive critical thinking kind of way or does it just hold you back?

As a musician I have to practice a lot. I practice all sorts of things that need improving songwriting, rhythm, production, singing, scales, arpeggio’s music to prepare for gigs. But in all of these things I practice. I don’t think I have ever actively tried to practice looking for more positives. I wouldn’t consider myself an overly negative person, I’m not Eeyore. But, now that I am aware that as a humans we lean a lot more toward the negative in general, it’s like realising something that you can’t unsee.

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think! and If you like this post please consider joining my mailing list here, where I'll keep you up to date with whats going on with me.

036. Found Time.

There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.
— BIll Watterson

I recently traded in my car. Now, I am not usually sentimental about material things in general, which is weird because being a guitar player is second only to car enthusiasts when it comes to the overwhelming love of the inanimate. But something about this car made me a little emotional when we parted company. It was mainly due, I think, to the amount of time I spent driving around the dual carriageways, backroads and mud tracks of this little island. 

I sound nostalgic about it now but for I long time I wasn’t. I really wasn’t. In fact I used to dread the thought of epic commutes in the dark. When the car finally left my tenure I had managed to rack up 345,000 kms thats 217,479 miles (although this is less impressive looking)

So if I averaged around 100km per hour I spent, give or take, almost 145 whole days in that car. No wonder I was getting feels.

For a long time, I thought of travel as a burden. Dead hours wasted, wishing I was somewhere else. You know it’s bad when you can recommend a really good service station for other people’s trips. I passed through places but never really saw them. Music was always good but I found that, particularly on the return journey, I didn’t have much bandwidth for it after playing for a couple of hours. There is always the radio of course but when travelling late a night the choices here start to narrow. (Thats me being generous to Irish radio by the way)

After a year or two I started to discover audiobooks and podcasts. A bit late to the party on this one I know. But Podcasts, who could have thought or predicted that something so simple like that could take off and grow so exponentially? It might sound a bit naive but just knowing that there are millions of people out there consuming two or three hour conversations every week is a positive thing. It means people are still hungry for getting in deep instead of just skimming along the surface. Not only that but that there were long form conversations about whatever off the wall, crazy niche Interest you could think of. Producing techniques, movie reviews, art, politics, religion, sport, current affairs, history, opinions, theoretical physics, singing lessons, comedians talking with fear factor hosts about conspiracies. It was like the world just opened up.

It is not an exaggeration to say that it literally changed my life, It was like my own private cultural and spiritual awakening that no one else knew about except for me and that car. What I was looking at all that time as a burden was actually what I luckily now call a gift. A chance to explore, to learn to expand and to grow. I look forward to many miles in my new car, but more so to the new doors it will open. No pun intended.

Last week I asked for your recommends for the things that keep you grounded when working. Well here are a few of mine. Top ten podcasts, audiobooks and randoms. Everyone loves a good list too, right? 

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think! and If you like this post please consider joining my mailing list here, where I'll keep you up to date with whats going on with me.

The brand new podcast version of this blog is now available here.

NOTE:

Some of these links below are affiliate links. This means that should you decide to purchase anything from them I will receive a small commission. This commission means that as an artist I can continue to deliver my best content. 


Podcasts

1. Creative juice

2. The rich roll podcast

3. The joe rogan Podcast 

4. kermode and mayo’s film review

5. The Blindboy podcast 

6. The Ground up show

7. Song Exploder

8. WTF With Marc Maron

9. The Adam Buxton Podcast

10. Desert Island Disks


Books

Fahrenheit 451
By Ray Bradbury
Dune
By Frank Herbert
The Martian
By Andy Weir
The Book of Five Rings
By Miyamoto Musashi