Embrace them constraints, y'all

Philip Morgan

There might be something good over the horizon if you do.

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Pitchfork -- the notoriously demanding music review site -- recently gave out a perfect 10 for an album, for Fiona Apple's latest album. That's rare (if you need a summer stay-at-home project, you could do a lot worse than listening to every one of "Pitchfork Perfect 10's": https://www.albumoftheyear.org/publication/1-pitchfork/perfect/ I get goosebumps just reading over the list.).

A Pitchfork reviewer gave out a 9.0 for Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire's, The Swimming Hour back in 2001. It's not a 10.0, but it's pretty much a glowing review. You'd think that would be some kind of golden ticket to success.

Well... Wikipedia picks things up from there:


In 2001, the Bowl of Fire released their third album, The Swimming Hour, a dramatic departure from their previous recordings. It featured a mixture of styles, from the zydeco-influenced "Core and Rind" to more straightforward rock songs such as "11:11". Due to this eclectic nature, Bird has often referred to it as his "jukebox album". Although gaining critical praise (The Swimming Hour received a 9.0 from indie music website Pitchfork), the band failed to attain commercial success or recognition, playing to audiences as small as 40 people. In 2002, Bird was asked to open for a band in his hometown of Chicago, but fellow Bowl of Fire members were unavailable for the date. The reluctant Bird performed the gig alone, and the surprising success of this solo show suggested potential new directions for his music.

Early solo career (2003–2005)

The Bowl of Fire unofficially disbanded in 2003, and Bird went on to radically re-invent himself as a solo artist.

--Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Bird


Did you catch that? "Critical praise" blah blah "9.0 from Pitchfork" blah blah "audiences as small as 40 people"?!?!?!

I hope whatever heights of success you've reached in your career, hearing stuff like that keeps you humble. And likewise, whatever challenges you're currently facing, I hope it keeps you inspired and moving forward.

Andrew Bird is not Justin Beiber, who has more songs in Spotify's Top 100 most-streamed list than any other artist. But Andrew Bird has a solid, productive career, and he creates music that is unique and enjoyable.

Some of that success surely comes from reluctantly performing a gig alone in 2002, without his backing band (crutch?), and then following where that constraint led him.


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