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The Blurring of the Lines (Day-Jobs and Night-Waves)

Last week during a conference call at work (my day-job) a colleague on the other side of the line gaily quipped about having visited my (this) website and made a friendly remark about what he heard, music-wise. Some of my colleagues on my side of the conference call looked at me – and each other – in a mildly quizzical fashion, having no idea what he was talking about. I uttered some sort of conspiratorial remark to my distant colleague and, laughing, pressed on to the business at hand. I was chairing the meeting so I exerted whatever control I had to overcome and gloss over the (to me) surreal moment.

It is necessary that we independent musicians who need to also hold down a day-job are able to separate out our lives into compartments so that we can concentrate properly on the different roles and responsibilities we assume at different times. It helps us to avoid seepage between the two less the lines be blurred and we become confused. As far as my day job is concerned I owe it to my clients that they get value for the money they pay me. As far as my musicianship is concerned I can guilt-free follow my muse after five-o’-clock knowing my bills will get paid.

I don’t have to think about it normally. Funny though; If a musical colleague asks about my day-job, I pour forth without inhibition knowing she no doubt shares a similar experience. But if a day-job colleague stumbles across my website, I flinch in terror. Why?

4 thoughts on “The Blurring of the Lines (Day-Jobs and Night-Waves)

  1. Howdy Dave,

    I greatly enjoy your blog installments! This one hit a chord (no pun intended ….. or maybe subconsciously intended) with me.

    My musical exploits are known to my employers. It is usually not brought up, and only once in mocking tones. Occasionally “they” (employers) have pressed me for musical input. Once I was asked to play guitar for a corporate video, which I did. More recently I helped them solve an acoustical problem when the corporate office was moved into an ancient, formerly abandoned, building in the heart of downtown. The old three-story building had been a school built around the turn of the century …… last century, not this new millennia. High ceilings and very hard surfaces and a lot of huge glass windows (with bars on them, now removed because upper management complained it made the place look like a prison ….. how ironic). It was acoustically terrible. Cubicles positioned in large open spaces, employees on phones, and conferences caused the noise to bounce around and stack up in the corners with nowhere to go but collide on one hard surface after another …. infinitely. So I taught them how to build sound absorption gobo’s affordably, and where to place them. Problem solved.

    But I definitely appreciate your strategy of compartmentalizing work from “play” (“play” being a euphemism for what amounts to even more work). I endeavor to keep them apart too.

    Best Wishes,

  2. Hi Nick. Sorry for late reply ol\’ buddy ““ again I\’ve been “œoffline” for a few days. I will NOT pay for internet access in the hotel I\’m in when in Aberdeen. Bastards…

    I admire your steely determination to get the sound on the corporate video sorted. Have you got a record of that? Is it something you would be permitted to post up somewhere?

    The company I work for now has a talent night once a year. It is a matter of pride for me that over the three years I\’ve been there I have been able to sidestep phone calls, omit to reply to emails, prevaricate endlessly and employ other inventive means not to get up on that stage. Such are the efforts I go to to compartmentalize my life. Maybe I\’m being a bit precious, though. I might give that impression. In my defence, though, I claim I work in an industry that is populated by hard-boiled engineers whose rootedness in the material and tactile makes me feel I\’m a stranger in a strange land .


  3. Hi Dave – been liking and sympathising with your blogs for some time. This one really hit home with me (oh god, I almost said ‘struck a chord’) as I too reel in terror at anyone in my day job discovering my true subversive purpose in life. I think the shorthand answer is as simple as ‘people just dont get it’. Ive worked in the job I’m in now for about 25 years and I can only think offhand about two or three colleagues in all the roles Ive had that have actually ‘got’ the musician side of things. And they were or had been musos themselves at one time. I generally just get thought of as being a bit weird cos I dont do golf or fitba’.

    I remember a couple of years ago deciding to formally declare my second ‘business’ interest due to the nasty climate in the public sector and then having to undergo the usual ‘what songs do you play?’, ‘do you do weddings?’, ‘do you know my mate Colin? he did a ‘gig’ once’ type of questioning from about three lines of managers. Thankfully when they found out I didn’t have Flower of Scotland or Mustang Sally on my setlist (and couldnt sing) they quickly lost interest.

    My current bugbear is because Im beginning to do more gigs now after a spell away from it due to having young kids, folk in the village we moved to a couple of years ago are seeing me for the first time carrying guitars and gear about and are asking me if Im having a midlife crisis! Of course, protesting that Ive actually been playing in pubs since before I was old enough to drink in them just doesn’t wash…

    Anyway, keep up the good work – I’m off to get my ear pierced and buy a sports car now.



  4. Martin,

    I know I wasn\’t alone! I too find it hard to share the office obsessions: golf (as you say), motor cars (the ones with exhaust pipes as thick as a thigh), office politics, beer (I\’m a wine guy), comparative rates of remuneration, hunting… (I don\’t know why so many of my colleagues get their kicks from whacking the wildlife.)

    To be fair, though, I\’ve learned not to judge too quickly ““ it\’s me that\’s the fish out their water, not the other way around. Also, I\’m regularly reminded that despite office behaviours and appearances, many people turn out to be more multi-dimensional than my self-regarding prejudices imagine. Others let slip their own masks from time to time.

    Good that you can do more gigs now. I\’m trying to too. And I feel a little self-conscious when my neighbours see me stroll the car with my guitar. I imagine all sorts of witty remarks whispered behind half-drawn curtains. But I know that, too, is narcissistic paranoia. At least I hope it is…


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