Monday, July 7, 2014

Sometimes it doesn't work out.

I knew what I wanted to do with my life the day I wrapped my fingers around the neck of a guitar. I was 13, and from that point on, nothing else mattered. School, friends, sports; it all paled in comparison to the feeling I got from running pentatonic scales.

I practiced for 4 or 5 hours a day, sometimes longer. I started my first band when I was 17. We were pretty terrible but managed to get booked for a couple shows. I'll always remember the first time I got paid. We played a show on a farm for $60. I don't remember what I did with the money, but I'll never forget the check as it was placed in my hand. "You're a professional now," she said. 

I didn't put any thought into where I was going to college. All I wanted to do was start a band and tour, and I didn't need a degree to do that. I applied to one school and got accepted. Classes started but I barely paid attention. I was on the hunt for a band. The first group was promising and we won second place in a talent show, but split up after that. The next group was a lot more fun, and we played two gigs, but called it quits when summer break came. The third group was more of the real deal. We played about a dozen shows and even did a little traveling, but that band broke up as well. Then there was The Livingstons.

The idea for the band was sparked while trying to fix an antifreeze leak. Once we started practicing together, we didn't look back. Eventually we signed a management deal, changed our name to Fate of Angels, recorded an album with a Grammy winning producer, played hundreds of shows all over the country, opened for some big name acts, and then after seven years, we broke up. No record deal, no gold records, no money in our pockets.

That was five years ago and I've hardly played guitar since.

Sad story? Maybe. I was depressed for quite a while that it didn't work out the way I wanted. I believed with every fiber that it would, and I was wrong. On the other hand, I knew my chances of succeeding in the music business were slim but chose to go for it anyway, and I'm proud of that. I'm also proud of what we accomplished as a band even though the end results weren't what I hoped for. Those seven years were some of the best in my life.

The odds are always stacked against those who try to achieve greatness. Unfortunately, too many people fail at their first attempt and never try again. I fell into this camp for quite a while but I'm ready to give myself another shot. It's very possible I will fail, but I believe the bigger failure is not trying. 

Like Jared wrote in The Friction, "Throw-downs with this world are never easy to win. Nothing worthwhile in this life has ever been."

1 comment:

Jared Totten said...

I do believe that's my favorite song on the album...

Josh, I was certain I felt the same way about the band as you, "this is all I ever want to do with my life, this is what I was meant to do". I'd felt that way from the first time I started singing, teaching myself guitar, and writing (truly terrible) songs with the first three chords I'd learned in my bedroom.

Now, when I tell people about my time with TL/FOA, I have fond memories but I don't regret it coming to and end (though making those phone calls to say "I'm done" was still one of the hardest things I've ever done). I've realized that it was a necessary step to get me where I am today. FOA certainly made me a better musician and a more diverse worship leader. Looking back, I would be nothing like the worship leader I am today for Redeemer Church if I hadn't been in the band first. I just know, in the back of my mind even today, I'd be thinking "this church gig is fine, but what I really wanna do is find some solid musicians here at Redeemer, start a band, and hit the road!" TL/FOA satisfied that itch and got it out of my system, and I am a more contented and better worship pastor and a better fit for Redeemer than I would have been otherwise.

So while the band didn't "work out" for any of us, the band was a necessary step that God sovereignly used to get me where I am today (and as content--even thrilled--with the position as I am today). I have no doubt that God is using that experience for all of us in the same way, even if we can't see it yet.

Love you guys and the huge part you played in getting me where I am today. And speaking of, all this has got me itching for another band reunion around a fire...