One day my cell phone rang.
It doesn’t ring very often because very few people have the number.
I didn’t recognize the calling number, and there was no Caller ID name listed, so I figured it was a random sales call and declined it.
But a minute later, the phone rang again.
Again, I declined it.
But a few minutes later, I got notified of a message.
Curious, I played the voice mail.
I was shocked at what I heard.
It was a slightly muffled conversation between two people, a man and a woman, bad mouthing my music.
It was like being a fly on the wall, listening to a couple bash your first born.
Specifically, they were quite openly thrashing my first singer-songwriter album, Strut!, from 2012.
“It’s trash!” the woman said.
“It’s really garbage!” the man said.
I was shocked.
I recognized the woman’s voice.
I thought she was a friend.
Their entire conversation lasted several minutes.
Since the woman had “butt dialed” me by accident, she didn’t have a clue that their exchange had been recorded.
But it was.
I’m not sure how you would feel if you overheard people you know trashing something you created out of love and passion, but I was confused.
I reached out to my music support team, my friends who helped create that first album, and told them what happened.
They were angry.
They wanted to call the woman and give her a piece of their mind.
I didn’t want to do that.
I wanted to process the Twilight Zone-ish experience and see what I could learn.
As I meditated on the bizarre event, I realized a few things –
- not everyone likes my books (!)
- not everyone likes me (?)
- much of music today doesn’t appeal to me
Of course, I wouldn’t call someone and tell them my opinion of their books or music or them, but realizing that not everyone loves me or my work, while baffling, was somehow comforting.
And then I thought about all the good things regarding my first singer-songwriter album.
For example –
- Strut! has original songs that were nominated for awards,
- one song was turned into a music video with over 300,000 views,
- the album was mentioned in Rolling Stone magazine,
- the songs were recorded with the help of Grammy nominated people
- and one Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musician,
- and I was voted #1 singer-songwriter by Reverbnation for it.
So, obviously, my music must not be “trash.”
It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but what is?
And I admit that my later albums – such as One More Day (a bestseller that sold out almost instantly after it was released and includes Grammy nominated singer Ruthie Foster on one hypnotic track) – reveal a more polished singer-songwriter, but I doubt that the first album was that bad.
Not everyone loves Elvis, the Beatles, Lady Gaga, or Neil Diamond – and those people are legends – but not everyone likes any of the hundreds of thousands of new, alternative, jazz or any of a staggering amount of music coming out today, either.
So, what are you or I going to do?
Let the critics win?
Mark Twain wrote in his autobiography –
“I believe that the trade of critic, in literature, music, and the drama, is the most degraded of all trades, and that it has no real value–certainly no large value…However, let it go. It is the will of God that we must have critics, and missionaries, and congressmen, and humorists, and we must bear the burden.” – Mark Twain
I’m with Twain, but I didn’t get to the same conclusion overnight.
All of this was a day-long process.
It took me more than a few minutes to get clarity.
After I realized that what I was given was an opportunity to clear up some limiting beliefs I had about approval, I was free to turn the event into a teaching lesson for you and me both, hence this post.
As I wrote in my book, The Attractor Factor, I pulled a TIISG: Turn It Into Something Good.
As you pursue your dreams and goals, you will probably encounter a person or two that doesn’t approve.
You have to continue forward anyway.
There will always be critics.
Their job is easy: put you or your project down.
Your job is harder but more rewarding:
Allow them their opinion, and continue towards your vision.
After all, everyone with a butt has an opinion.
And if you’re really worried about being butt dialed a bad review, just turn off your phone.
PS – If you want to see for yourself how bad my music is, go review all 15 albums I’ve created over the last 4 years at All Healing Music.