Looking for the joy. Maybe it’s there, but hiding…



I just made a post on Facebook that somewhere along the way, I’ve lost my joy for performing. Not in the music, I’m immersed in music everyday. I love writing it, listening to it, dancing to it. Of my creative endeavors, music is my priority. I lamented that I hoped it was just a phase, because once I finish this album, I will need to perform to support it. 

One of my friends responded, “It IS just a phase, performing is in your blood.”

That got me asking. Is that true? 

He might be right. My mother told me I was singing before I knew any songs. She said she’d put me on the back of her bike and as we rode, I would sing non-songs. She thought it was funny because I could not be seen behind her, but I was singing loud, even then. I wish I could remember that. It seems like a happy time with her. 

As I evaluate my lack of interest in performing, I have to include all the street performing I did last summer. It was hideous. Partly, it was because no one knows my songs. They were watching and waiting to hear something familiar, but it never came. I street performed all over St. Louis. I was almost arrested in University City. (I learned I don’t want to ever be arrested. 😕) The Central West End was the best place, but all in all it was a degrading experience. 

These sorts of things build up. I call it “the accumulative effect.” Others might say it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. 

When I look back at what performing has meant to me, I realize it has a great deal of power. In high school, I went from being that weird girl, to the popular people liking me. Instantly. I had no trust for them, so I was polite and listened to where they wanted to pull me, which made the others say I was stuck up now. It was an interesting experience. Then high school ended and I was spared from having to be labeled further. 

But I never forgot how performing gave me “instant love.” It also sometimes gives me instant hate. People definitely have their shit. I’m me whether I open my mouth or not. My daughter jokes that my voice is a siren song. It wills men to do my bidding. I wish it was that romantic. Really what happens is, and I know this because I have heard it at least 50 times through out the years, I hear, “I wonder what you’d be like in bed?” I’ve never said it, but I always think the same thing: not as good as that. 

After considering whether performing is in my blood, I think he’s right. If I go too long without performing I start to dream about it during my sleep. Maybe it’s just too easy. I can go out any night of the week and find musicians to jam with. I can take my little rig and go perform pretty much any where any time. 

So what’s the issue? I don’t think I’ve come to a place of comfort with my songs yet. They’re still not in the pocket. And I am very committed to not performing other people’s songs. I think I’m going to have to relax this. I don’t have enough original material to do more than one set at this point. And people like familiar. I get it. Some times you want to listen to music, but not have to think about it. Or determine whether you like it or not. 

The other place I must get to is, I have to perform for me, not the audience. When I do, it’s between me and my muses. And when it’s there, others will love it too. I need to perform for myself. 

I’ll get there…


About PamelaDevine

Pamela Devine is a singer songwriter, fine artist, and filmmaker. View all posts by PamelaDevine

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