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The Winner Takes It All

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Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
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The Song of Your Life

Songwriting is more honest and more difficult than memoir, because you're dealing in at least two languages -- the one with words and the one without -- while also making a place for yourself, and for everybody else. You have to be completely true to your vision and your truth, while also constantly making allowances for your collaborator. You have to remember that it takes an ass to fill every seat, but never rely on the cheap or played-out to achieve those ends. You have to remember that a calling is not a job and that no amount of money is worth letting go, but that too much effort on the back end means you'll have no creativity to spare your calling.

You have to know when to check in and make sure you're not going on some life-wrecking tangent, but you also have to know when you're making the right move regardless of what people are telling you. You have to know that there's a beginning, a middle and an end, and you have to have the grace and patience to get there without losing your dignity. You have to remember that drinking and drugs, though they open the door, are not the only keys to the door, and that selling yourself as a neurotic artist or a drunk genius is a great way to close yourself off altogether; that everybody loves a rebel but nobody loves a revolutionary and everybody gets a hangover from an asshole. That any pass you write yourself today is going to charge you double one day very soon, so you need to operate as close to your higher self as you possible can if you don't want a bunch of hassles and bullshit later. That losing control is the key to creativity but staying in control is the key to everything else.

You have to know, constantly, that the narrative of your life and the way you express yourself aren't simply cardboard pretenses to avoid the risk of really examining yourself. You have to earn every cliché, turn over every rock, and you have to know when to drop your shit and run. You have to fight for everybody else's approval while remembering always that, as an end goal, that's just slow unicorn suicide. You have to remember always that money is no kind of a trade for your soul, and you have to remember to eat regularly and get some sleep and keep making money. You have to starve, sometimes, to make sure your unicorn's getting fed.

Good luck to all the hookers and congrats on the visibility; thanks to Kara and Jewel for being so consistently inspiring. And to Keith Naftaly, we wish a hearty goodnight.

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