Paint By Numbers 

The song Paint by Numbers was written at a time in my life where proper songwriting structure was being shoved down my throat. I was actually shopping my music to various record companies and, after a while, as almost expected, would get the proverbial, “Nice but too different, outdated, where’s the chorus, etc.”. We all want to be heard if we have something to say. The reality is, to be heard; no matter what the forum, we are challenged to bend 

If you Google the definition of “Paint by Numbers”, the alternate definition to “(of a child's picture) marked out in advance into sections that are numbered according to the color to be used” you get, “denoting something mechanical or formulaic rather than imaginative, original, or natural”. 

Think about how this applies to so many aspects of life as we know it today. The way we live our lives, the routine, often is from what we have learned from our childhood and the culture we are exposed to on our journey through life. What results is a pattern and trained response that becomes our own, personal culture. 

This is enforced by the habits of the multitudes of people we interact with, the laws and unwritten rules of society; which were created and established based on what our ancestors learned and adopted, and now more than ever, the influence of what we are fed by readily accessible [oftener tainted] media. The result of all this is fear of one to express themselves in any way that is counter to the culture of the masses. 

Sure, there are those that appear to be “ground breakers” or “out of the box thinkers” however, at the end of the day, more often than not, these individuals are discounted due to known and perceived boundaries that the culture of society has created. 

Here is an easy experiment you can do. Next time you’re on an elevator, face the back of the elevator [vs. the door]. There are no rules written as to how and where you stand in an elevator however, you will quickly find how uncomfortable not only you are doing this but how uncomfortable those in the elevator are with you. This is a simple example of the human condition. 

The known and perceived boundaries that are part of the human condition also permeates artistic expression; not so much for us in the arts to create however, for us to be given a non-bias look or listen. 

With that, in order for us to be heard or for those listening to listen without bias, it is in our best interest to shape a creative work of art to either completely or somewhat conform the unwritten rules and structure that have been established for the here and now. This in no way is a slam on those in the industry, it is the result of the human condition. 

What is even crazier about this is that we as consumers of music silently endorse what’s hot and what is not by following the masses vs. taking a fresh ear to the abundant alternative musical styles and expressions that are available today via multiple platforms. 

On the positive side, we have never had so much opportunity to explore the vast number of musical works available. 

The song Paint by Numbers was written at a time in my life where proper songwriting structure was being shoved down my throat. I was actually shopping my music to various record companies and, after a while, as almost expected, would get the proverbial, “Nice but too different, outdated, where’s the chorus, etc.”. We all want to be heard if we have something to say. The reality is, to be heard; no matter what the forum, we are challenged to bend 

I will look the other way 

Bleed between the colors 

Tailor it to you 

Exploit my desire 

Prostitute my thoughts 

For your plagiaristic greed 

Tangle with my faith 

While you tango with your need 

[from the song, “Paint by Numbers”-©David Alan Bruce] 

In all things, you have to look to the bright side. The bright side is I believe I have become very good at creating well-structured pop songs [at least that is what I have been told]; bending the rules enough to satisfy my own need, say what I need to say, play what I want to play, and yet feed the machine. 

The challenge is and will be how can one completely create, paint from a blank canvas to where the mind will and can wonder if you have to create within the established lines 

And I’ll Paint by Numbers 

How can you (when you want to) draw the line 

The line is drawn for you 

[from the song “Paint by Numbers”-©David Alan Bruce

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