Monday, November 19, 2012

Ozzy Osborne "Crazy Train"

Billy can play the intro to "Crazy Train."

How do I know?

Because I heard him do it.  A million times.  For hours on end.  Over and over.

One of the things I do not miss about college, or being young, or having roommates, is the proximity to other people's noises.

And when you lived next door to a musician, you lived next door to whatever they were learning.

Billy was learning the incredible, indelible opening riff to "Crazy Train."  And like any aspiring guitarist, he wanted to get it down, know it cold.  So he just kept playing it.

The riff that starts at :23 and goes to :36 (on the Youtube video below), is only a dozen or so seconds long.

But if you really want your fingers to learn how to fly through it, so it becomes muscle memory, then you just have to play it over and over and over.  A 12 second riff that lasts for an hour.

This process is maddening if you happen to live next door.

At first, it's really cool to hear the song being worked out.  But after a bit, it becomes annoying.  Then distracting.  Then infuriating.  Then it completely takes over your life to the point where you can't concentrate enough to read the side of a cereal box and even if you put a stack of pillows over your head you can faintly hear its muffled line and the notes poke your brain like tiny daggers launched from a pea shooter.


But not for the artist.

The process is necessary for the artist.

The devotion to practice and the discipline to commit to getting it right override all other sensibilities.

The amazing thing about Billy is that he could apply this mindset to everything he wished to do.

He's recorded an album, playing all the instruments.

He oversees the layout and design of a whole family of magazines.

He paints.

He sculpts.

He makes mosaics.

He silk screens.

He makes ceramics.

And he does it with a single-mindedness that makes his prolific nature seem effortless.

I used to want to write.  Write stories.  Maybe a novel.  Whatever.

But I could never muster the discipline that Billy had.

I admired it.  I envied it.  But I was never able to replicate it.

For years, I held onto the excuse that my creative powers were being fully directed toward my job at mvyradio, leaving little time or energy to be creative elsewhere.

I started this blog.  And I thought of Billy.

I began to write several days a week.  Then 5 days a week.  Then 7.  I went a whole year without missing a day.  And these days, I actually find it easier to write a post every day, than I did a few years ago, to write a post a couple of times a week.  Working with a single-mindedness has made being prolific feel effortless.

I thank Billy, in part, for helping me get here.  Even if I had to come via his Crazy Train.

See a fraction of what Billy can do, at his Big Dead Gerbil website.  I have a Big Dead Gerbil ceramic as a pencil holder on my desk.  You can also find some pretty amazing silk screen prints and hilarious t-shirts.

Before you do any Christmas shopping online with big companies, consider supporting individual artists and small entrepreneurs.  Amazon isn’t going to miss your 50 bucks, but a purchase from an artisan will help them enormously.  This week I’ll be posting links to a few of my talented friends and family.

Hear the song on Youtube.

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