Why go on?

Why go on?

The halfway point of any journey is a reckoning. Looking back you see clearly how much effort was expelled to get you where you are, which makes you acutely aware of what it will take to finish. The worker returning from a lunch break braces himself for the next four hours of the shift. The hiker remembers all the hill climbs, gazing toward the horizon. The bleary-eyed driver takes a monumental risk calling on a ‘second wind’.

On the eve of reaching the midpoint of my podcast journey (that is, my year of making a song for every other weekday, releasing them via podcast), I awoke with a fly of a thought buzzing around in my head. Shoo fly, I said.

This fly was the spector of a comment left as a customer review of the P Bear Podcast. It was filed around April 23rd ( I know because I decided to respond to it in song, with April 25th’s “Get Happy Now”). This ‘customer’, Drunkninja, warns would-be listeners, “There’s a reason bands don’t write three new songs per week…the tunes are interesting for about 30 seconds or so and then become boring and simple. He’s using a nice sample library and paints a nice picture but lacks any understanding of chord progressions and the role they play in taking the listener on a journey.” Rating: lowest possible, one star.

It’s strange how criticism can buzz around in your brain. I guess I’m considering this now because I’m very aware of both my understanding of music (my technical aptitudes and limitations played out in over 75 songs so far this year) and my personal journey, and I’m puzzled by what would motivate someone to go to the trouble of suggesting that P Bear alone (there are no other customer reviews attributed to Drunkninja) is boring and foolishly ambitious, and should probably just stop.

What gets my goat is that this is the obvious gambit: That making a song every other weekday and expecting people might find it worthy of their listening time is so obviously foolhardy. I mean, who has that kind of time? Life is hectic. There are all kinds of pitfalls to any journey which is in any way novel and / or challenging.

Like, when I think about running marathon, it seems like a good idea, but hard, and maybe even boring. I mean, it would require a lot of time to train my body to do that. It’s slightly interesting, not a meritless concept anyway, but not for me. I’d rather walk here and there. So when I put myself in Drunkninja’s shoes in this analogy, for example, and I see someone training for a marathon, what would motivate me to actually leave notice for them like, “There’s a reason most people don’t run marathons. What you’re doing may be a fine idea but your execution is boring and by the way, you lack any real understanding of foot progressions and the role this plays in walking. You should just stop. You are one star in my book. Zero, actually, but my computer won’t let me put zero.”

I don’t know what the moral of this story is exactly. Different things make different people tick. I’m aware that my musical journey would have the natural tendency to drift in to watered-down, boring, samey territory. I even make a special effort to produce work that may surprise the listener who would expect this tendency. I’m not an academic. I don’t feel like I need to know the finer points of music theory to make songs or post them freely on the internet. I don’t think what I’m doing is an affront to the notion of the way bands do things.

What I do know is these songs are to me, both satisfying to create and listen to. And I intend to finish the journey I embarked on January 1, 2007!


P Bear.

  • P Bear Fan

    06/28/2007 at 12:54 pm

    P Bear is the bee’s knees. P Bear is creative and courageous and inspiring. P Bear must go on. I’m glad P Bear is going on. Ignore nasty commenting trolls. More music, more love, less nasty. And so on.

  • niki

    06/28/2007 at 1:03 pm

    Keep going pbear! You give me lovely tunes to listen to at work. For that, I sincerely thank you!

  • Naomi

    06/28/2007 at 2:46 pm

    Don’t know how D-ninja feels… but at least, every morning I’m looking forward my Google web clips saying new PBear gift has arrived in cyberspace … Now I, too, can go on today with PBear song … asi es la vida, no?

  • chloe

    06/28/2007 at 4:44 pm

    P.bear you are the bomb. As far as I know you are the only bear on earth attempting such a project. Keep it up, I like it.

  • White Rabbit Mike

    06/28/2007 at 8:48 pm

    Bro, been around since your songs were still in the teens, wayyyyyy back in february,a friend turned me onto it beasue he was wandering itunes and found your stuff. Anyways…what was I getting at? Oh yeah, even the worst of your stuff has been above the mark of regular artists. I’ll stick around right until 150, and i’ll buy each album on iTunes when they release. Stick with it, take the good and the bad.

    Best of Luck and all that fun stuff,
    White Rabbit Mike

  • errorist

    06/29/2007 at 2:14 am

    your weekly sounds have become a wonderful part of my home away from home here in tokyo… i can’t imagine enjoying my journey nearly as much if you weren’t letting me share in your journey…

  • Elizabeth Jukins

    06/29/2007 at 4:17 am

    P Bear! Please stay the course! I’m sorry I haven’t commented in awhile, but I wear your t-shirt as often as I can and listen to you almost every day! Please P-Bear…pick yourself up, dust yourself off and show DrunkNinja that sticks and stones can break your bones, but stinky dum-dums can never hurt you! Some choose to “do” in this life and those who “don’t” only feel justified by breaking down those who rise above their own (drunkninja’s) insecurities. You are brave and true and we love you! Come out swingin’!

  • Bryce Miller

    06/29/2007 at 9:44 pm

    I enjoy writing songs too, and I am inspired with every song you release. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I can’t wait to hear what new ideas and sounds you can put together to create a fantastic song. I hope that you keep going, and finish off the journey that you started. Keep it up!!

  • Noah Benham

    06/30/2007 at 12:52 pm

    Keep it up P Bear!

  • OnedayImgoingto

    07/01/2007 at 2:06 pm

    you music really makes me smile 🙂

  • sammy21

    07/01/2007 at 4:00 pm

    Why go on? Well clearly so you can learn the understanding of chord progressions. Whatever the hell that means. As an artist, you have the right to create whatever you see fit. Just as I have the right to tell Drunkninja to go jump off a bridge. Music is art. Its all in the eye of the beholder…or ear as it may be. Your correct that “Different things make different people tick.” So keep on ticking your way. Thanks for letting me listen to your journey. Good Luck. sammy21

    p.s. Blue is awesome!

  • hum dee dee

    07/01/2007 at 5:48 pm

    yeah…i listen to it at work when i need a pick me up…..its fun…and my sister listens to you too…in fact..i was listening to catipillar brigade as i opened up the site. yeah…so..keep on til the end!!!!

  • jazzdood

    07/05/2007 at 8:53 pm

    Drunkninja doesn’t have to listen if he’s not into the tunes. Very simple. Myself? I’ve purchased the box set. It’s a brave and wonderful mission you’re undertaking. I guess you’ve got to take the criticism along with the praise. Thanks for the great music and the positive outlook.

  • vicki

    07/07/2007 at 11:18 am

    it’s a risk that all of us creative people take if and when we present our work to the world at large: that some people will not like it…and worse, say so, out loud (so to speak). And isn’t it just like us humans to worry and take too much notice of the small amount of criticism rather than the abundance of praise?
    i doubt seriously that i could carry on…as so many creative pioneers have (i’m thinking of vanGogh, Monet and Manet for example) when most of the comments were harsh and meant to discourage.
    Given the goal you have set for yourself, there will undoubtedly be winners and losers…it’s part of the process.
    Good for you for carrying on!

  • The Narrator

    07/11/2007 at 6:57 pm

    The easiest thing in the world to do is criticize. Certainly, one of the hardest things in the world to do is to create. It takes unbounded optimism in the face of a universe of entropy. And you’re doing it every other day, to boot! You are the better person, P. Bear. Fare thee well.

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