Some thoughts on dealing with rejection.

The other night, I got rejected, straight up, no debate. It happened at a West Coast Songwriters song screening and, as with every other time I’ve been rejected (and there have been many!), it taught me something.

As I walked home from Fort Mason (see photo from other night), where the screening was held, I replayed the moment when Sammi Moore said “this isn’t for me”. And as I thought about that moment and how it could have been so uplifting but was not, I realized that pitching a song is really hard for three reasons (aside from the obvious, which is that you’re baring your soul!):

1) The person looking for a song is most likely looking for something way more specific than, for example, a country rock song; no, he or she is probably looking for a song that “could appeal to both country and rock fans and that suits my voice and where I am in my life right now and my dog’s howl and the sound of the train that passes by my house every night at 4:00 AM and the feeling I get when I drink two beers but not three and would sound good emanating from both a Prius and pickup....” And I mean all that very seriously, because to get behind a song you have to be able to make it your own.

2) Equally important to the above point, a song has to fit into the context of the album being planned or the artist’s current focus. It’s the eye of a needle, for sure.

3) Last but not least, quality is subjective. Sure, in your opinion, your song might have a great verse, a killer chorus and hooks galore, but in someone else’s mind, it’s a snore-fest.

And so, given these hurdles, I had to be honest with myself. Sammi was right to reject my song. It was “too rock” in her mind, not in keeping with the other songs she had planned for her album and not so amazingly good that it could overcome her concerns. I think I was about halfway back home when I accepted the rightness of Sammi’s decision, and instead of further mulling the defeat I’d just suffered, I turned my attention to the warmth of the night, the absence of wind, the lake-still water of the bay and to the fact that Catherine was waiting at home with two little girls inside of her. Suddenly, rejection wasn’t so bad.