Why be an apple when you're a banana?

Hi folks,

It's night time. My bedroom window is open and a cool breeze makes for a comfy setting for blog writing: Long sleeved PJs, blankets, and Pandora classical station. I love the night air in LA. There has not been one hot night since I moved here, and let me tell you, I don't miss it. I like to wear clothes in bed...most of the time. My favorite PJs used to be 'sleepers' or 'footie' pjs - the kind that it's impossible to go to the bathroom in without unzipping and becoming completely naked and freezing. I actually have an adult pair of these with rubber ducks all over them. See picture.
(this is the 'sleeper' dance)

Long story short. I like cool nights. Like tonight.

I wanted to talk about a little game that has been sucking up a lot of my time and creative energy lately. It's pissing me off. I call this game "Apples to Bananas." It's all about comparing. But instead of comparing Apples to Apples - you compare two things that are nothing alike and have nothing to do with each other. IT'S WICKED FUN. Here is how it goes. Get online, start browsing facebook, follow a few stalkerish tangents, get bored, go to Youtube or twitter, stumble across a singer/songwriter/person you either know personally or admire, follow them for a bit, start watching videos, reading updates, looking at pictures, look at your OWN page/life and then SPIRAL DOWNWARDS INTO THE PITS OF MISERABLE, SOUL-CRUSHING, HELL.

Now, some of you may know my song "Jealous Girl." If you don't, I'm sorry. It will be on my demo coming out later this fall. If you want to know it, watch this video(the performance is a bit wonky, but you will get the idea):

This song is not exactly a work of fiction. I have a problem with coveting what others have. This behavior is somewhat under control because I'm actually pretty content with who I am, what I've got going on, etc. The thing that IS still out of control is the comparing. I look at what other people are up to and then I look at myself. And then I start to judge me based on them.

THIS MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO EFFING SENSE. right? I mean what do I have to do with you? or them? Or anyone? Other than that we are both human and struggling through this life the best we can. No artist's music has anything to say about my music. No artist's hair has anything to say about my hair. And yet, I go there. I think that if so and so is successful and so and so is a macintosh apple - then I better be a macintosh apple too in order to be a success in the business. See, but this equation does not add up. 1+2 DOES NOT always = 3 in life. There are too many unknown variables. . There is no guarantee that what worked for one person will work for you. And even if it did, HOW BORING! Isn't it the uniqueness of our art, bodies, passions, journeys, opinions, etc the thing that makes life beautiful and interesting? I think so.

So why would I ever want to be like someone else? I have no idea. There is nothing wrong with me. There is nothing wrong with you. It's just that some people do this and that happens. And some people do that and this happens. We can't tell why! It might be the very thing that I dislike about myself or my music most that ends up getting the attention of the industry or a large fan base. I've actually always HATED my legs. I thought they were chunky and weird. I would do anything as a young girl to hide them. Come to find out it is my legs, MY LEGS, that drive my boyfriend crazy. He loves them. Who knew? Who ever knows? It's our flaws that make us beautiful.

How can I know what my own magic success formula will be? I can't. And those who pretend they know are full of shit. Sure, they might know what has worked for others. And in any business there are certain practices and numbers that add up to financial success - no matter how you slice it. Like hard work. I'm pretty sure that is almost always a must. But you cannot manufacture pure artistic expression - or the 'thing' that grabs people's hearts and moves them to tears. This thing just 'is.'

So I cannot be anything other than what I am. A banana. Frannie Banannie. That SOUNDS good. I nod my head to that...

But the entertainment business tells me otherwise. LA is a land where people create themselves, literally. Marilyn Monroe was not Marilyn Monroe until a bottle of peroxide. People can change their destiny with one little strategic image consultation. What if Pam Anderson never got boobs? ...Ok, the world would probably be a better place, but you get the point. I get so caught up in this idea that I need to change in order to be a successful musician. Like - did Janis Joplin just wake up and look and act like that? Well, probably after a bottle of Southern Comfort, yes. I KNOW the Beatles didn't hang out in suits 24/7 until their manager demanded it. People look around - they compare and contrast - and then make strategic decisions and changes. Do I need to do this? Should I be taking notes on the current music scene and bobbing and weaving and manipulating myself to find my place in the big scheme of things?

I just dyed my hair dark, dark brown - almost black. It used to be blond. That wasn't my natural color either, just FYI.

I'm not sure why I did it. I wanted a change. That's for sure. But I think I also wanted to play with my image as an artist. Like maybe 'Fran Betlyon' the singer/songwriter has a mod/dark/signature haircut. It's so frigging shallow. But I needed to do it. As an experiment. I would be naive to think that image is not important in the music business. I guess I just need to decide HOW important it is to me. How far am I willing to go? Will I base my image on other people or on me and what makes me feel good? That's the clincher. I hope that my image as an artist, as well as my music will represent my taste and my way of life.

In the end - as I've said before - I'm not out for world domination. I just want to be able to perform and write songs for a living. That is what I want. I should remember that I cannot experience anyone else's path other than my own. We all have something beautiful and unique to share with the world. The only way to allow that to develop is to go within, shed the bullshit, stop comparing and let the natural beauty and creativity flourish. That is the key. If you're a banana, be an effing banana. Bleach blond and big boobs aside, it's what is on the inside that counts. I guess if I spent more time working on my insides - all my outsides would improve: my body, my finances, my career, my relationships, my music, etc. How could they not! It's a ripple effect.

The more energy we expend comparing and envying our fellows - the more we are depleted and deflated. Comparing and complaining creates more of the same and before you know it, you've wasted a lifetime envying others and not living your life. WELL EFF THAT! Not I! I am determined to nip this behavior in the bud. God knows how I will stop, but I hope to at least make a dent in the wall of stupid behavior. I'm releasing it into this cool night air. Get thee gone, bullshit!

If you have any practical ideas for being better at life, let me know!


  1. This is a great blog, Fran. I know the frustration of wanting to be able to sing and play and create for a living and being thwarted at times.

    It's hard to resist comparing ourselves to others and it's hard not to view our success as artists (sometimes) in terms of how many people we reach or how many "albums" we sell, or "hits" we get on youtube.

    However, as you pointed out, there are many, many variables and sadly, there are no guarantees. Even the most talented person who's already "made it" and has the most resources at their disposal can flop or fail if the wind is blowing the wrong way tomorrow.

    Another problem is that we now live in a celebrity culture where EVERYONE wants to be a "star." The internet has made it easier than ever for people to get themselves out there, but it's harder than ever for the audience to wade through all the clutter and find the people who are actually good at what they do.

    So by making our self-esteem contingent on external measures of success - or what other people have - we seriously jeopardize our own
    mental well-being. Similarly, no amount of praise or reassurance will ever be enough to convince us we're as "good" as we need or would like to be.

    So what's the answer? For one thing, we need to really fully understand and accept that the person who sells a million albums isn't better than us just BECAUSE they sold a million albums. My mother could sell a million albums if someone threw a ton of money behind her and the stars aligned just so. And believe me, my mom can NOT sing!

    Plus, as you said, the secret isn't necessarily being "better" than anyone, it's playing to your UNIQUE strengths and making art that's special and no one BUT YOU can make.

    Secondly, while it would be NICE to reach a ton of people, we also need to be sure that the people we do reach fully understand and embrace our work. I'll take 5 thoughtful, quality views of my work over 100 meaningless "clicks" any day.

    Being a songwriter/artist is a tough way to go, and if we get down on ourselves or get jealous of others it can be 100 times tougher. So hang in there - keep plugging away - and KNOW that you are good at what you do!

    Have a great day.

    Glenn Page



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