I had a picture in my mind of who and what I was supposed to be. It was so clear. I had no doubts. Then one day I looked at myself and realized what I'd become wasn't even close. I almost walked away. Almost.
As a musician in the NYC rock scene, I'd spent years attempting to cultivate myself into this "Rocker" persona that I'd always dreamed of being. I made music to sound like my idols. I dressed the way I thought I should dress, I moved the way I should move and I tailored my lyrics and my life towards an angst-y success I just knew I was going to achieve. I'd done it all right. Right?
After six years, and my third failed band, I found myself in need of change and wanting to stretch my wings a bit. A number of my favorite bands liked to have acoustic songs on their albums. Many times those songs ended up among my favorite songs by those artists. So as I looked for my next band, I also reached out to some guitarists to see if any of them would like to start a little acoustic song writing project just for fun.
I found a like-minded cohort in my now good friend and guitarist by the name of Lev Rock. We started writing songs in his apartment, meeting once a week or so. The music pretty much flowed. We worked great together. No ego. Just a love of writing and playing music.
Something happened in those sessions. I got out of my own skin. Out of the box I had so carefully crafted and stuffed myself into. This wasn't for anyone. It was just for me. It was just a hobby, so there was no pressure to be anything but a songwriter and a singer. (But I was still a rocker damn it!)
So I kept writing with Lev but was also putting all my real time and energy into my new rock band. (Because that's who I was, of course.) I played some acoustic shows out with Lev here and there, and "Jackson James" the act, was born.
Even with one member down, my heart was still with the rock band, so I continued focusing on it, pumped new life into it, and put "Jackson James" to it's place on the back-burner.
True to form, the rock band faltered yet again (see a pattern here?). So I turned my attention back to "Jackson James". We wrote and recorded our second EP 'Lost Cause' and were performing pretty steadily. Again, things were good. Smooth. I was happy. But that damn band again. For the first time, the idea of getting it up and running again seemed arduous. But I wasn't the only one involved (and of course I'm a rocker! Right?) so we scouted out, filled the missing positions, and went at it again.
For one show.
Our last show.
It was over and we all knew it.
So there I was. A band-less rocker with a fourth failed project. I was finally forced to admit that maybe that picture I'd always had for myself wasn't the right one.
But that was OK!
I love the music I'm making as "Jackson James". Yeah, it's a singer/songwriter format. A more commercial motif, I suppose. But so what? I like it. That's what matters. I never felt like I was compromising myself with the words I write or the melodies I compose. I was just having such a hard time letting go of the idea of how my life and my image were supposed to turn out. Yes, I'm doing something different, but in my own way, and some great things are happening! (OK, maybe I'm particularly biased on that.)
I looked at my life and realized I was not the person I had set out to become. But I'm still very happy with who I am. With the way life can move us, and make our choices for us sometimes, the fact that we can still come out on top gives me a little extra peace and strength to deal with the road ahead.
Right now I'm working on my third EP, a more produced and filled out sound. Also building up a better live show. As I work I'm still finding my perfect voice, maybe I always will be. It just feels good to be out of the box.
Jackson James is a (reluctant, but coming to terms with it) singer/songwriter living in New York City. Both of his EP's are available on iTunes and Spotify!