Earlier this year, yet again, iconic musician Ms. Lauryn Hill as she insists on being called was late to a show. Two hours to be precise. This time, she left us with a reason, and that reason was, as it was posted on Facebook, as follows:
I don’t show up late to shows because I don’t care. And I have nothing but Love and respect for my fans. The challenge is aligning my energy with the time, taking something that isn’t easily classified or contained, and trying to make it available for others. I don’t have an on/off switch. I am at my best when I am open, rested, sensitive and liberated to express myself as truthfully as possible. For every performance that I’ve arrived to late, there have been countless others where I’ve performed in excess of two hours, beyond what I am contracted to do, pouring everything out on the stage.
Because I care so deeply about the artistic process, I scrutinize, have perfectionist tendencies, and want space made for spontaneity, which is not an easy process, with the many moving parts on the road. Some days we are more successful than others re time.
Now, many people, including myself initially, called bullshit. And it is bullshit because you don’t have people pay to come to see you and you disrespect their time and money by being two hours late. As a consumer, I consider both of those things to be valuable (one much more than the other) and to have them both be wasted is the best way to secure my everlasting dislike of you.
However, because I was thinking of it like a consumer, I didn’t think of it as an artist, as a creative. I didn’t emphasize with her from the point of view of a person who needs to be constantly recharged, especially in a world that seeks to drain every last bit from you. Like her, I am at my best when certain conditions are met. I’m my best at night, when the distractions of the world are minimal. I am my best when I am rested, fully charged. I could rarely get a charge with the type of work I did and due to that I self-medicate(d) a lot just to get through. Even now, even still, I often find myself lacking the energy to be creative, even though I am no longer under the stress I put myself under, because even the distractions are draining (yet I refuse to put them down, but that’s another post for another day).
So what I’m saying is that I understand where Ms. Lauryn Hill as she insits on being called is coming from. Sometimes I can’t be creative right on the spot, on command. For me it’s different because my creativity so far does not require me to be in front of a lot of people, so I can use the excuse. I understand having to be in the right place mentally, emotionally, even spiritually and if that’s what Ms. Lauryn Hill as she insists on being called needs to do in order to perform then I support it, because I get it.
Still, you should not leave people waiting for you for two hours and then come out so late that the venue has to cut the mic because of curfew. When it is time for me to perform to higher expectations that come with running a television show, writing novels or delivering a finished cinematic product, I, knowing how I am, have to do what I can to work within, around and in spite of those character quirks. If I know I have to be in a particular head space to perform, to operate, to let the creativity flow freely through my body, then I will do what I can to get into that space long before it’s time for me to go on. If my office has to be right, my home life, my work life, what ever it is. I will fight the attempts, I will resist the attempts to get me into the zone, but when such a responsibility rests on your shoulders, maybe it’s just me, but I know that I have to rise to the occasion. I could be simplifying it. I’m not 100% in the industry right now, and the only pressure I have is myself, whereas she probably has tons more pressure on her.
Overall though, I can’t condone keeping people waiting, especially when they paid to see me. I can be an inconsiderate person at times, but that’s just downright rude. I’m glad she knows herself, as do I. But because we know ourselves, we have to be prepared and that doesn’t mean getting prepared two hours into a show. No amount of making it up to fans can get them that time nor money back.
P.S. A perfect example of me having to be in the right head space: Ms. Lauryn Hill as she insists on being called committed this faux pas back in May and I’ve just now, in July, had the mind to even write about this subject.
P.P.S. The featured picture is courtesy of Ms. Lauryn Hill’s Facebook page, which you can access here: Ms. Lauryn Hill on Facebook