Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sonnet: Performers; Why I Won't Reach Celebrity


On the radio is Bonnie Raitt.
“Anything you want,” she sings, a cover
Of one of Roy Orbison’s last great
Additions to the canon of the lover.
He died not long thereafter, dressed in black
With sunglasses, stiff in life as death.
But would Bonnie or Roy ever take it back,
Trade the crowd’s adulation for the nest
Of home and hearth, routine and routine love?
Must performers’ love bow to the pull
Of one more sparkling wheel of fans to move?
Four walls, a fireplace, it would be dull.
And what of us, wouldn’t we trade it all
To be admired on stage, to swoon and howl?

I loved Roy Orbison and I love Bonnie Raitt, indeed have followed her since the 70s when she wasn't well known. The question I raise here, however, is one that recurs and recurs. Does everyone want to be a celebrity? Or are there those who prefer to be doctors, lawyers and candlestick makers? Those with little entertainment skills might not lust after the spotlight, but most of the talented people who could fill it will never taste it. The media barrage on our psyches only twists the knife of enforced anonymity deeper for the truly talented. Yet, except for a few lucky breaks and family connections, most successful artists got where they are on sheer grit: thousands of auditions, playing the cheap clubs where no one listens to the music, giving poetry readings at open mikes, doing graphic art to support an oil-painting habit, hoping one day for a show.

In a word, I think you have to want it really bad, and sustain a positive attitude on the journey. It never ceases to amaze me that Robert DeNiro, Robert Duvall, and (I think) Dustin Hoffman (if not Pacino) shared a cheap apartment in NY coming up, taking jobs as waiters and what not until their big breaks. But their breaks only came because they never stopped trying.

I think like many I play with success. I don't want to get down in the mud and wrestle for it. I don't want to live out of my car and give readings of a self-published book from here to Oklahoma. I work but I don't work that hard. My sister-in-law shares a horse with Jane Hirschfield and I've never taken advantage of that connection. That's just plain stupid--or else breeding--you don't inopportune an acquaintance of your sister-in-law just to get ahead. If I were properly ambitious I'd be begging to meet her.

I likely don't have it in me to "make it," i.e. garner a larger audience and standing. I think I'm hesitant to pay the social price. As in many things, I am divided about this question down to my bones.

Not feeling half bad for a couple of days. Shhh!



  1. Anonymous8:07 PM PST

    IMNSHO, this is a great poem.

  2. Anonymous8:52 PM PST

    I didn't read all this in one swooop, but wanted to share with you an aquaintence artist who'd painted a pair of high-tops for Bonny R. who used to paint back-drops for me once upon a time... anywho

    Gosh, you guys sure are randy today!

    what gives? Guy?

    this is quite good actually, CE -- the parts n all that corpusventriclecoondaleani stuff.


    my shadow eats my neck
    right through the tra chea, the car o tid sa vages the thy roid
    curlssssss a ton gue up towards my ven
    tricle's butter
    stops at the pit u it
    swal lows it
    then lowers it self so so s oftly
    to mate.


  3. I think you're spot on about what brings success. I've met many talented people over the years but no amount of talent can make up for sheer persistence. In my experience, you just have to keep knocking on the door until it opens. When your knuckles start bleeding, you stop for a while. But you have to want it bad enough to stay there, year in, year out, until people start to notice you. The experience (of doing it) is odd. I probably need help.

    It's something to do with not being accepted as a child, I suspect. And there's a complex relationship with self-belief.

    Anyway, have to stop deliberately distracting myself and write a poem now. I enjoyed bumping into your blog - hope to drop by again.

  4. Thanks, anonymous #1; anonymous #2, it's obvious you've been cruising other blogs, but I don't get the "randy" insinuation, though I welcome it.

    Ros, good to hear from you. I visited your site and your accomplishments are notable. I added you to my links here as well. And I repeat my request to be directed to a site where I might read "The Poet of Sleaze." ;-}

  5. Anonymous2:41 PM PST

    "but I don't get the "randy" insinuation, though I welcome it."

    Oh, ok, well - think

    * Mappy *

    in hour-glass face.

    you really should restrict comments to invitees only, you know.


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