The Will to Shine

As a musical creative, this story might interest you.

One sunny day a few years ago, I was driving through a fairly scummy district here in Los Angeles…the type of ‘hood where the locals don’t enjoy a lot of upward mobility. I was looking around feeling grateful that I didn’t live there, and wondering what my life would look like if I did, and how I’d feel about it.

Then I pulled up at a red light next to an old man on the corner, obviously local, sitting on a bicycle, and he was as proud a display of humanity as I’ve seen anywhere. He had to be around eighty.

His bike was highly customized and blinged out to the max, tires armor-alled and gleaming, chrome polished and blazing in the sun everywhere, not one speck of dust or rust to be seen. He was dressed in the finest traditional threads of his culture, boots polished to a mirror sheen, embroidered slacks pleated and studded, his shirt, vest, blazer, and hat festooned with regalia, a gorgeous bolo at his neck. His creased and weathered face was more manicured than simply shaved; he was as wonderful a spectacle of human finery as I’ve seen anywhere in all my travels.

And I wondered what drives this man—limited to this ‘hood and to a bike, surrounded by cars and smog—to care SO MUCH about his presentation? He’s had decades more time than me to become jaded and cynical, yet look at the effort he puts in. I’ve gone onstage in front of millions of viewers with less preening.

The light changed and I drove on. I don’t remember any of the shops I went into that day, or the people I met and spoke with…that’s all subdued colors, gray memories. But I’ll always remember that man, and his will, shining so bright it almost hurt to look at him. He was magnificent.

Here’s the point: That music you make?

You want it to be that man.

Don’t EVER go to the trouble of writing, arranging, producing or performing “just another” this or that.

However humble the gig, or your means, make it SHINE.

Go the extra mile in the studio, get the sounds that will set the listeners back on their heels, and make them crave the next listen. Pull that extra something out of your soul in performance. Make them remember that glistening, unbelievable moment for the rest of their lives.

Yes, here’s the pivot where I encourage you to head over to to learn how to do that, because your music and the world deserve for you to know. And it really will do that for you. But whether or not you do, my main point here is this:

Go the extra mile to make your music SHINE.

As musical creatives, we have a very real responsibility to add magnificence to the world, not gray memories.

And as always, stay brilliant!


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