JUMPING DARKNESS PARADE WITH EYAL LEVI: DON’T WASTE MY MOTHERF*CKING TIME!
A conversation I once had:
Dude I Know: Hey man, do you have a sec? I need to figure out which amp to get.
Me: Sure, what’s up?
Dude I know: My band is about to go out on our first tour in a couple of months and I need to get a guitar amp that’s going to hold up and sound great.
Me: Yeah, that’s pretty important. What do you have in mind? What’s your price range?
Dude I know: Price range is 800 – 1200 bucks. I really want to invest in something good. I’ve seen these amps on eBay…
[He proceeds to send me a link]
Me: Well, I’ve used all of those on tour and in the studio. Amp 1 sounds great but it’s really finicky. I’d never take it on the road. Even in the studio there’s no guarantee it’ll last the session. Amp 2 sounds decent and I’ve bought a few for my band. They all lasted roughly the same amount of time then died. Amp 3 is your best bet. Never died on the road, always sounds great.
Dude I Know: My favorite guitar player uses Amp 1.
Me: How do you know?
Dude I Know: I saw it in a Guitar World ad.
Me: Yeah, well, a) he probably has a tech who keeps that thing maintained, and b) he’s got a road case for it that’s twice as expensive as the amp itself. You have neither of those things. I really don’t think you should get it.
Dude I Know: I’ll take good care of it.
Me: Listen, that amp was discontinued seven years ago. You can’t get a new one. If you get one of those you’ll have no idea what it’s been through. Not a wise investment. Go with 3. Even Amp 2 is better. Just don’t waste your money on something that’s going to hose you.
Dude I Know: I’ve got my heart set on Amp 1.
Me: If you’ve got your heart set on Amp 1 then why are you asking me for my advice?
Dude I Know: I just want to make sure I’m making the right decision.
[We go in circles for a while longer and then I pretend like a really important phone call comes in.]
So what do you think Dude I Know did? He bought Amp 1. Went on tour with it. Two weeks in, the amp died. He couldn’t stay in a town long enough to get it fixed, so he ended up borrowing a different amp every night from the local openers. When he got home, he took it to a repair shop, and the price came out to be $500. Instead of having them fix it, he elected to have a friend of his that “knows gear” take care of it. He took the repair money and wasted it on booze and weed, because he knew he was a rockstar and would soon have guitar equipment raining down from the heavens. He toured again with the same amp, and this time, it died four days in. Same situation as before. He ended up borrowing amps every night and this time when he got home he decided he didn’t want to repair his amp. He wanted a new one.
Then he hits me up…
Dude I Know: Hey man, do you have a sec?
Me: Sure, what’s up?
Dude I Know: I need to figure out which amp to get.
Me: What happened to the last one?
Dude I Know: It died on the road. It’s too expensive to fix. I just want to get a new one.
Me: Okay, what’s your price range?
Dude I Know: $600 – $800. But I’d love to spend no more than $500. Money is tight. I didn’t make anything on this last tour.
Me: That’s not really a good amount of money to budget for a good amp. Do you have artist pricing on anything?
Dude I Know: No.
Me: Why don’t you wait a little while and save some money and then get something good so that you don’t have to go through this again?
Dude I Know: I kinda want to get something now. These are the amps I’m looking at on eBay…
I’m leaving out the rest of the conversation because I’m sure you know how it goes. He listed the amps he was looking at. I told him they were all crap and he wouldn’t be happy. He didn’t listen. He went on tour and came back without an amp. This time he had no money for another amp. There’s no way of knowing what could have been, but odds are that had he just spent his money correctly the first time, he would have still been playing on the same amp…. and I wouldn’t have lost three hours of my life talking to a wall.
This example is just one of many covering lots of topics. I think that nine times out of ten, when someone asks for advice, they’re not actually asking for advice. They just want to sound like they have something going on. Either that, or they just really love the sound of their own voice. I mean, really, what is the point of taking up somebody’s time and asking their opinion in depth if you’re not going to listen? Disagreeing is one thing. That’s fair and square. I don’t think that my opinion is always right. But another thing is not listening to sound advice, fucking up, then asking the same person for more advice, and then not listening again. Where does it end?
It ends with me becoming weary of taking the time to help people with their problems. My thoughts on solving problems are simple: I think that in a deeper sense, nobody can fix anybody else. People can only fix themselves. Change comes from within. While you can be a sounding board for somebody (what are friends for?) and you can be there for them, ultimately, what they choose to do with themselves is one-hundred percent up to them. If somebody takes their non life threatening problems and consciously becomes a repeated burden to you, is it you not being a good friend by drawing the line, or is it them being a bad friend by not respecting your time and opinion?
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