Monthly Archives: April 2009

Just Going for It: Being Creative and 18

What I remember most about being 18 was how creative I was.  Of course that was before I went to college, where the creativity kind of waned and eventually got zapped right out of me by the time I went to grad school. My talent was writing, not music, so I wrote endless pages of poetry and short stories, scripted one play, and had the beginning draft of a fantasy novel.  I recognize much of myself in David when I was his age: introspective, shy, dreamy, and just getting along with everybody since I was too busy in my own little creative world to be bothered with the triteness of high school cliques and relationships while maintaining an intimate circle of friends.

So, when David rambles on, as he does here in his latest vlog, about how he has learned to “just go for it” in his songwriting, I get goosebumps imagining what new melodies and lyrics he has put together.  A wave of melancholy also washes over me because, when I was David’s age, I didn’t “just go for it,” which is why the creativity started to fade, and the social world started taking on more prominence in my life.  Like everything else, creativity needs nurturing and guidance.

David is a musical soul with tons of youthful energy, and knowing that he has been collaborating with more seasoned songwriters,  I cannot help but get excited by his musical vision and the guidance he is already accessing at his age.

Because I know that 18 was perhaps my most creative year in my life, and right now, I’m trying to figure out how to tap back into that creative force since I no longer have the youthful energy to sustain it, I have a different perspective on young artistry.  I’m not dismissive of it nor feel that young’uns somehow need to get “more experience” because, well, you live in the here and now, and you create from where you are.  You could be 50, and if you’ve never had a creative bone in your body, it just ain’t gonna happen regardless of your worldly experience. Which isn’t to say someone won’t discover that they have the talent to be a poet or musician at that age, but it would mean that – even at 50 – you’re an adolescent artist just learning the craft.

I’m fond of telling my college students – especially my female students – that the nineteenth-century writer Mary Shelley penned her great novel, Frankenstein, when she was 18.   I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that some of our more celebrated writers, artists, and musicians started crafting their art around the same age.  I don’t expect anyone to peak at that age, but they should definitely be showing signs of the greatness that is to come.  I do believe Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday were both 18 when people started paying attention.  I definitely get that vibe with David at 18.

It’s what happens with that creativity – feeding its spirit, watering its soul – that determines how well the art flourishes.  But it is often said, “You can’t put in what God left out,” and even in the wrong environments, art finds a way. Art persists with the right kind of support.

Youth, energy, and creativity can yield some great results. How that youthful creativity gets packaged  is another story.  A respecter of vocal music and stylings, David already impresses. Adding songwriting to his skill set just gives him even more room and maneuver to shape his inflections and falsettos.

So David ends his latest vlog with “Wait! …yeah. Bye.” Meaning, his thoughts are all over the place, he wants to share, but knows he must self-edit. He’ll get the hang of it, and his heart is as open as that big old sloppy smile he unleashes on us!

American Idol couldn’t package that kind of open-hearted, soft-souled genius and neither will Jive-cum-Disney. He is what he is, and our world is better off for it. Now, if David can get the soul music hookup, I will be one happy fan!

– Hello Gorgeous

Subverting the Disney Image of David Archuleta

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Now that it is clear David’s record label Jive is insistent on going the Disney teen star route – associating David with the Mickey Mouse set, from Hannah Montana to iCarly to touring with Demi Lovato – I’m starting this blog for no other reason than to preserve and reclaim the “Soul Man from Utah” and to subvert some fabricated commercial vision of Youth.

I mean, yes, it makes sense for his label to cultivate  a tween demographic since the older set (young adults) might look at David and immediately think “Disney.” I do believe I’ve seen more than a few comments from non-fans who saw him return to American Idol’s stage last week and responded with “He’s still too cheesy and Disney for me.”  The new single, “Touch My Hand,” doesn’t help with its uncomplicated and unimaginative lyrics.  Still, I imagine those particular older and cynical audiences have yet to be seduced by The Voice.  They unfortunately have yet to hear his aching and longing on a ballad like “Somebody Out There,” nor have they been privy to the danceable and hookable “Zero Gravity,” which has already inspired some cool remixes.

Since I’ve exhausted myself waiting for Jive to take David’s artistry seriously, I thought I’d create yet another blog, like The David Chronicles (consider us the “Soul Sistah” to that site), and take him seriously here! I invite you to participate in this alternative dialogue.  And rediscover his “Soul” – the “Shop Around” David, the “Heaven” David,  who wants his listeners to “understand” him when he sings.

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And since I like debates and don’t shy away from the tough subjects – like politics, race, sexuality, culture wars, and the like – I hope we can explore all these forces and what they mean when we contemplate David’s artistry.

Oh, in time, he will outgrow the Disney persona that is being forced on him (and forced on him for no other reason than that David looks young and seems innocent). I personally would like to dig deeper beneath that superficial facade since I’ve caught a glimpse and know there’s more to the “Soul” of David Archuleta.

– Hello Gorgeous