You may recall he was the front-man for ‘80s band Men at Work. They won a Grammy in 1983 for best new artist and had a few chart-topping hits including “Down Under.”
Now, Colin Hay plays solo acoustic shows in small towns where many audience members would be hard pressed to name any of his solo tunes.
The second he took the stage, I was dumbstruck. He’s one of the most talented performers I’ve ever seen – and I’m a concert whore, so I don’t say this lightly. His voice was breathtaking, his guitar playing flawless, his showmanship hysterically entertaining. If I hadn’t been reluctant to part with my favorite bra, I might’ve thrown it.
|Colin Hay on Wednesday night.|
From his jokes, it’s clear he’s aware of the irony in going from sold-out stadium shows to a tiny stage in Central Oregon.
But though his position on the charts has changed, his talent hasn’t. Regardless of how many tickets he sells, he’s an amazing musician.
I can’t help but see a tie to writing. Deep down, don’t we all hope for superstardom? Don’t we all want our books to sell at auction for ridiculous figures, to ascend the bestseller lists and have Oprah and Letterman bitch-slapping each other over the first interview?
But the reality is that it happens for very few artists – musicians or writers. For every performer like Sting or Bono or Steven Tyler whose superstar status spans 30 or 40 years, there are guys like Colin Hay. No less talented, but with careers that have gone a decidedly different direction.
Part of me wants to feel sad about this.
Part of me says Are you kidding? A talented artist making a living doing what he loves? What’s sad about that?
I’ll admit I wouldn’t mind seeing my name on a bestseller list someday. Though I’ll do everything in my power to make it happen, I have very little control. I can work hard and hone my talent, but the odds are slim I’ll ever be driven to book signings in a limousine with throngs of fans beating on the windows and throwing Pop Tarts.
I’m OK with that.
Because talent and success can’t be measured by book sales or the number of concert seats filled. I know that for every blockbuster book atop the lists, there are dozens more that are every bit as good – maybe better – that just don’t have the magic marketing formula to fly off the shelves.
It’s enough for me to know I’m damn lucky. I’m getting to do what I love – to slap words on a page and make a few people smile, to even make a little money doing it.
Though my dreams of grandeur might entertain me, it’s the lure of just doing what I love that keeps me going.
That, and the fantasy of giving Oprah a wedgie if I ever make it on her show.
How about you? If you never write a runaway bestseller, are you OK with that? Is it enough just to know you’re a writer, that you’re talented enough to create a book in the first place?
I’ll leave you with this song from Colin Hay. If you like it, go buy it on iTunes. Do it now.