I thought Aqualung was dead.
That sounds like the opening line to a comic book, but it’s not.
Aqualung is the name Matt Hales used when he started his musical career. But I thought he was dead, or had failed as a musician, because I hadn’t heard from him in a while.
His debut album in 2005 was fantastic and included the song “Brighter than Sunshine.” But for the last seven years, I didn’t hear anything about him and assumed his career had fallen apart. I was wrong and had forgotten one of the principles of awesome:
Awesome builds its own planet.
I was reminded of that when I read an article updating the life of Matt Hales:
“If he wanted, Matt Hales could be living the life of a rock star. Aqualung’s last three albums, “Strange and Beautiful” (2005), “Memory Man” (2007) and “Words and Music” (2009) swelled with love songs, fresh to the ear, flying off shelves and perfect for the small and big screen.
Instead, Hales retired.
“I burned out,” said Hales. “I’d been on the road since 2002, nearly nonstop, but I had kids and things were changing. I wondered if that life still suited me. It was strange; even as I grew successful, I felt less happy. No matter how much I achieved, it didn’t change how much I wanted to be at home.”
So the British-born artist went home. He and his wife, Kim, had a girl, Gia, to join their 6-year-old, Kofi. But home is where the tunes are — Hales writes with the help of his wife and brother, Ben — and the master of the keyboards felt the songs start accumulating again.”
By the world’s standards (and unfortunately mine at the time), Hales failed. He had a successful music career and took what appears to be a step backwards. But awesome doesn’t play by the world’s rules. Awesome makes its own planet.
And with Matt Hales, success wasn’t touring nonstop or selling the most albums. Those weren’t diamonds anymore. Making music was still a huge diamond, but so was being home with his family. His wife and kids were diamonds, not rocks.
Shouldn’t he be playing 200 gigs a year? Shouldn’t he be in a Brooklyn apartment with hipsters, making new music that sounds newly old and tweeting a million times a day? Shouldn’t he be trying to get on TV and do media interviews and spending a lot less time at home? Yes, he should. That’s exactly what the view of Matt from Earth would tell us.
But he’s not living on planet Earth. He’s living on planet Matt. Awesome helped him build that. And the view of somebody else’s diamonds look very different when you’re looking at them from your own planet.
Quote from Article by Nathan Martin