In Memory of Gary Page — A Super Fan

Radical inner purpose through music

I used to make believe
That everything was going to be okay
It’s just an ordinary morning
With a humble helping hand
But now that you’re right next to me
I’m starting to think that everything’s okay
It’s just an ordinary morning
With an ordinary man
-Gregory Douglass (yours truly),
From the song “
Ordinary Man

I just got word about Gary Page’s recent, sudden passing. I don’t know the details of what happened, but it seems as though he was quietly struggling with some health issues that finally took their toll.

You probably have know idea who Gary Page is, but I certainly do. Gary was truly one of my greatest fans — a super fan as they say in the music industry. Outside of my immediate friends and family, if you were to ask me who the biggest fans of my music are, he would be in the top five (5) — perhaps even the top two (2). Gary has been along for the ride throughout the majority of my independent musical journey thus far. Every West Coast show I’ve performed, he’s been there. Every album I’ve fan-funded from 2009 on, he’s contributed to. He’s been a patron of my monthly membership via Patreon, which is the lifeline of my creative sustainability these days. And every impromptu web concert I’ve performed online, he’s tuned in and contributed to the virtual “tip jar.” I didn’t know him that well, but from what I could tell he did a lot for his love of music.

I know how much my music meant to Gary, but I’m not sure he’ll ever know how much his support truly meant to me. Like clockwork, he would always request the song “Ordinary Man” from my Battler album. That was his song, and after long enough, it just became a part of my virtual concert set list because I knew Gary would be listening. He was always there for me, so I came to expect that he would always be there for me.

I featured the lyric quote above in his honor because “Ordinary Man” has a much deeper meaning to me now. I originally wrote this song about a dear friend from high school who has been extremely supportive of my music over the years. The song was a musical thank-you to my friend, but now it feels more like an ode to my creative family — my musical family. Gary’s ongoing patronage and encouragement has made all of the difference in my humble DIY (do it yourself) career. It’s been the collective support of humble helping hands from ordinary men like Gary who have made it possible for me to sustain my creativity altogether.

I’m not sure Gary truly realized the magnitude of his support. I’m not sure anyone fully understands how essential their support is for the artists they care about today. In a world that no longer pays for the content its beloved creators are here on this earth to create, what will become of creative sustainability?

This is the blessing and the curse of creativity in the age of information.

Our willingness to pay for the music and content we love has been obliterated by the digitalization of it. And yet, many of the expenses associated with the creation of it hasn’t changed. It’s near impossible to record a professional sounding album for much less than $10k when all is said and done, so where is all that money supposed to come from if it can no longer be recouped through music sales? It’s become incredibly disproportionate, and it’s simply not sustainable. It leaves artists like myself no choice but to turn to other means of funding to create — crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Patreon — or swallow our pride and get a “real” job instead.

Here’s a radical concept: music is a real job, and it’s the most important job I will ever have.

I know this even in the darkest of times and the hardest of financial struggles, and Gary knew this too. Every one of my greatest fans knows this, and I count my blessings every day with how much support I’ve been surrounded with. One of the oldest emails I have from Gary on record alluded to his declining health. He said, “While I’ve been battling some major health issues, it will take a lot to keep me from being at your show!” It’s one of so many emails I’ve kept in a folder to remind me of how important my job truly is. Emails from people who have gone out of their way to share how much my music has helped them through health scares, emotional turmoil, major life transitions, and even grief over the loss of loved ones.

All this is true, yet even still — every day I have to remind myself of how extremely important my job is because the value of my work often goes unspoken. Those who choose to express their appreciation for my music now and again are as much proof as I have to work with. I never know the scope of who’s out there listening. The creative process is extremely quiet as well — private, introspective and sometimes lonely. It’s often a soft rumination of words and melodies swirling around in my head until they become songs. Even the manifestation of an exciting new song can feel rather anticlimactic when there’s no one else around to hear it. And as a one-man operation on an indie budget, my reach only goes so far when a shiny new album is finally set for public release. Indeed, the value of all this creativity is as subdued as it is profound.

What I’ve come to value most in my career are the people who are listening, and who have been listening all along. My latest album My Hero, The Enemy is a reflection on the blessing and the curse of creativity in the age of information, but it is also an album for Gary — for my fans, friends, family, and anyone else who’s listening. It’s the first of nine (9) studio albums I had no grand vision for. In fact, I almost released the stripped-down demo recordings as the album itself because the songs felt like deeply personal diary entries. I wasn’t trying to impress the record industry or anyone else for that matter. I simply wanted to write from the heart for the people who were already listening. As a result, there were no big publicity campaigns or album release tours. Just two memorable performances of the new album performed live from beginning to end, and surrounded by everyone I love. The final show took place in San Francisco at a venue called The Chapel, and it was documented for a live album and “rockumentary” in the making.

That was the last time I saw Gary Page, but he was there. I was able to capture this warm hug between Gary and I in a video from that fateful night (at 0:32). Little did I know it would be our final hug, but I’m so grateful to have this to remember him by.

Music is what I do. I do it because I am soulfully called to do so. It brings a radical sense of inner purpose into my life, and it has the power to have a tremendous impact others as well. When I’m on my deathbed, looking back at all that has been, I can only hope to carry few regrets thanks to all this music. I hope that Gary felt the radical essence of his inner purpose through music as well.

Here’s my mission

I want to change the dialogue on inner purpose. We all want a “life worth living for” before we die, so I think we need to start “living a life worth dying for” while we’re still alive. Too many people look back on their lives with heavy hearts full of regret when they could be living with radical inner purpose. So, what are you dying to live for? Go ahead, get creative… Or click here for a little help from this handy creative action plan.

RIP (Radical Inner Purpose),

-Gregory Douglass

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