It has been two weeks since I moved to New York City, and already my brain is overwhelmed with thoughts and ponderences. Unlike so many others who came to this city seeking recognition, fame, or even something more, I was originally proud to say that I knew what was coming. I never once thought that it would be easy. But still, the overwhelming power of this place is often more than I can fully comprehend. It is the sheer size, that unruly grid of concrete and metal which has somehow grown from nothing into a living feat of human accomplishment. It is the incalculable mess of wealth, power and beauty that inhabits the shops and restaurants in an almost dizzying blur of glitz and decadence.
But more than anything, it is the raw talent, strewn about the city like the doughy flakes of a perfect croissant, that makes me wonder what it really takes to “make it” in this place. Why is it that the greatest artists and musicians I have ever heard in my life are so casually found underneath a tunnel overpass in Central Park, or crammed into the shadowy crevice of a subway staircase? (I have since been informed that it is because the underground talent in New York is actually hired through an audition process with the city’s transportation authorities: see www.mta.info/mta/aft/muny/auditions.html for details.) Just last night, I watched an elderly street artist mindlessly tearing up tissue paper to form the perfect likeness of a man standing in front of him. And every time I find myself waiting for a late night train out of Union Square, a saxophone player of unmatched talent plays his heart out for the few nickels and dimes that grace his open instrument case.
New York City was never designed for the weak of heart or the troubled of mind–though there are certainly enough psychiatrists in this town to cure each and every case. Rather, this city was built on the living foundation of the American Dream–that with enough know-how and persistence, one person can live out any one of his or her dreams. I am still proud to say that I am suffering neither from a weak heart nor a troubled mind. In fact, in the past month I have even made some steps towards my own American Dream, winning a songwriting contest (indieinternational.com), securing my first solo gig (at Caffe Vivaldi on Nov. 7th), and organising the release of my debut album. Of course, these are all but small steps in the long road to my dream as a songwriter, but its still a good start, and I remain confident that good things lie ahead.
To hear my music, please visit my website at www.dancharness.com