MacPhail – 16.5.19

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It is no wonder that so many musicians, writers and artists suffer from the grips of mental health problems and the associated drug and alcohol issues that often follow.

Other than the proverbial “hatters” of days gone by, there are few other professions in which so many suffer ills of the mind. There are myriads of “chicken or egg” situations within the realms of these creative pursuits and there are few definite conclusions.  What came first? Did the person of unconventional mind become an artist, or did the artist become the person of unconventional mind? Did the alcoholic become a musician, or did the musician become an alcoholic? These and many more grey areas and questions of predetermined tendencies with no definitive answers exist heavily within this sector of society.

However, one aspect of the arts that I am certain is a common cause of psychological strife and long-term damage if not handled well, is the constant need to bare one’s soul to the general public, and the requirement, that if one is to make a living, for that general public to like what you have shown of your inner being.

This creates one of the most pronounced pendulum swings of emotion you can experience from any vocation. The pendulum swing when moved in the direction of the worry and doubt regarding your artistic output can be matched in the following swing by the euphoric joy when your work is appreciated. There is, of course, no guarantee of that positive swing, but the experience of it, when it does happen, more than compensates for the negative swings.  And the cycle continues.

I am lucky to be fairly thick-skinned and so far in life have not suffered any of the ills of the mind or addictions that are common with musicians, but the grip of trepidation before new songs are released is nonetheless intense.

At midnight tonight (Thursday) the new Skipinnish album Steer by the Stars will go live on iTunes and as with before the release of all previous songs or albums, I have no accurate gauge as to how the new material will be received. Once it’s out, it cannot be unreleased so the pendulum of worry and doubt is fairly high to that side of the scale.  It is probably even more pronounced with this album because there is more new material than on previous releases.

There is nothing else for it than to shoot the net and hope for the best.  We have had a good run over the last few years with amazing support from so many and regardless of how this album is received, that has been hugely appreciated.

Even if the material is indeed lacking, I hope that the calibre of all the other musicians in the band and the guests, as well as the skills of the recording engineer will compensate.

If Steer by the Stars does, in fact, turn out to be a load of rubbish that nobody likes, I’ll need to ask the Oban Times for a pay rise, maybe hide down in Manchester for a week after the half-marathon, then run away to St Kilda!