Rhett speaks out

April 6, 2010

Music industry critic Bob Lefsetz has published an email from Rhett before, but I though the latest one was well worth sharing.

Subject: Re: Steve Miller On The Beatles

Hi Bob,

Love the Steve Miller interview. He went to my high school years before I did. The only reason I wasn’t expelled for grades and attendance after my junior year was because St. Mark’s thought I’d be the next Steve Miller. I was releasing an album the summer before my senior year and gigging two or three times a week. That was over twenty years ago. Talk about ten thousand hours. I must have done that 5 times over now.

“…what about writing. How many shitty songs do you have to write until you get a good one?”

I emphasize this point when talking to younger musicians who ask about the craft. Your first one hundred songs are gonna suck.
But then the one hundred and first song? Wow. You’re right. It’s not hard to write songs. Not if that’s what you’re meant to do. It’s fucking joyous. It’s a fantastic feeling to earn it. To feel yourself improve as a performer and a writer. That’s why I do it. I have kids now, so I have to figure out how to monetize this weird job I have, but I love it.

My band Old 97’s go into the studio next week to make another album for New West Records. The label is flush with money and pride from the success of the Crazy Heart soundtrack. Good people who work hard.

After that 97’s record is in the can, I’m geared up to make a solo record, but I don’t know what to do about a label. I’m seriously tempted to follow your advice and do it myself. All those years of Elektra marketing and my own hard work has gotten me a pretty nice audience, but it’s terrifying to think of trying to find investors and oversee a team. I write songs. I am not Sylvia Rhone. And I don’t really want to be.

Thanks for giving so much of yourself to your readers. It means a lot.

Rhett Miller

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