Discover more from Steady Beats | Matt Tillotson
[SB 198] Stop learning. You're ready.
Hi, I’m Matt. Welcome to Steady Beats, a newsletter about chasing the good life at midlife: exercise, education, and eighties music.
I was peering into the screen. Trying to peer through it, really.
“What am I going to write about today?”
Chin in my hand, keyboard not clicking, I decided to take a walk.
Three tenths of a mile into the walk, I had the basic framework for this week’s newsletter.
It’s tough to be creative sitting at a desk, staring into the blue light abyss.
Move your body, and your ideas will move, also.
You know enough
Phil Collins had more top 40 hits than any artist in the 1980s. He also logged an absurd seven number one hits in the decade.
Collins never learned to—and still cannot—read sheet music. As he said in his autobiography, “Not Dead Yet:”
“Maybe a more traditionally schooled player couldn’t have come up with an unorthodox song like, ‘In The Air Tonight.’ If you don’t know the rules, you don’t know what rules you’re breaking.”
What a spirit. It allowed Phil to create multiple hit albums telling us all he definitely was not upset about his latest divorce.
(Note: 80s Divorce Rock is a genre. We’ll explore it another day.)
But the point is, we all have a desire to wait until we are “ready” to make things. One more book to read. One last course to take.
Fear fuels that predisposition.
Motion is the best teacher. Just start making something. Let yourself be a beginner. If you’re like Phil Collins, your naiveté might even turn out to be one of your greatest assets.
I’m not immune to this fear, either.
If you’ve read this newsletter for any amount of time, it should be clear I’m an 80s music junkie. And even though I write about 80s music sometimes, I haven’t really given myself permission to do so.
I always feel like a total imposter. That inner doubt rings louder than Eddie Van Halen’s guitar.
I can’t play an instrument. I don’t know music theory. And I’m certainly not a “real” music critic.
But I don’t want to be a critic. And I’m not here to create or perform music. I just want to learn more about these old songs and artists, and celebrate them.
Rob Sheffield’s book “Talking to Girls About Duran Duran” helped me realize this.
Sheffield is an accomplished music writer, with the books and bylines to prove it. But “Talking To Girls About Duran Duran” is a book about 80s music—largely as a jumping off point to tell personal stories triggered by the songs.
He doesn’t lean on music theory to explain the genius of Prince or write technical breakdowns of John Taylor’s bass lines.
Sheffield is a fan of the era’s music. He celebrates it and uses the songs to share stories and philosophies about life.
I want to do the same here, sometimes. And have. And will continue to do so.
Without imposter syndrome.
You know enough to start. So do I. By making, by doing, by being in motion, we learn more than ever can by studying. You don’t have to “fake it ‘til you make it.” Just start where you are, authentically.
I know it’s kinda scary, creating before you feel ready. But it’s worth it.
Take it from Phil. And all his exes.
I love grilled flank steak, thinly sliced, medium rare. What more needs to be said?
Thank you for reading.
Let’s keep the Steady Beats going. 💚
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