Cut Off Your Own Ear, Dang it

        There are some folks who have said my kinda art is not serious enough for individuals of their social standing.  They believe a true artist must be dark and troubled, and a moody countenance would be more suggestive of intellectual superiority.  If light-hearted offends you I am sorry, but I see enough tragedy in the doc gig that I ain’t gonna take myself too serious as either a writer or a mandolinist.  I’m serious about Eternity, my family and friends, heart attacks, and cancer.  Go much further down the list and I’m gonna try to play to forget my troubles, and I don’t apologize for it. 

        If you tell me you can’t take my work for what it is ’cause I won’t cut off my ear to prove I’ve suffered, I’m gonna break into doctor mode and tell you the micro-circulation to the cartilaginous aspect of the pinna can be somewhat compromised in the elderly, and no thank you them rascals can be dang hard to sew back on and get ’em to take. 

        So, have nice day, and you can go cut off your own dang ear if you just have to prove something, but I sure don’t recommend it.  I know a bluegrass doctor man named Junior who might be able to put it back together if you go and do something like that.  As for me, I like both of my ears, and I think I’ll hold onto ’em.

        I’m gonna go read about existentialism.  I’m a serious man, and it beats lopping off an ear to prove it to anyone.

Dr. B

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13 Comments on “Cut Off Your Own Ear, Dang it”

  1. Mrs. Chili Says:

    Doc, I’ve ruminated, quite often, over the notion that artists must suffer to be considered authentic. I don’t buy it, either. Art comes from your true experiences; if you’re dark and dismal and full of despair, that’s your experience. If you’re airy and light and full of joy, that’s your experience. One is neither better nor worse (at least, in terms of art) than the other, I think but I know which one I’d choose!

  2. Sandy Ackers Says:

    Creative pursuits should be fun! If you’re not enjoying yourself, why bother? There are much easier ways to make money, get a few pats on the back, etc.

    –Sandy Ackers
    Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World

  3. Felix Miller Says:

    As far as I can tell, everybody has joy and sadness, moments (and longer) of depression and rage, but creating something expressing their feelings on life will not happen without being able to concentrate on the joy and appreciation of beauty.

    Van Gogh mutilated himself for reasons unconnected with the beauty in his art. All those sunflower paintings did not come from the demons that drove him to cut off his ear. Maybe if Vincent had a mandolin to pick between paintings, he would have died with both his ears.

    • drtombibey Says:

      Sandy, Yeah when I get down art lifts me up.

      Felix, Just got back from a show. I played about average but I’ve still got both ears!

      Someone told me another fellow cut off Van Gogh’s ears and Vincent took the heat for it in history; I don’t know.

      Dr. B

  4. There does seem to be a stereotype about the suffering artist, doesn’t there? It’s ridiculous, because I can’t think of many artists I admire in the music or literature businesses who have ever flaunted their misery and suffering in an effort to prove something… Actually, the writers and musicians I follow and admire are all pretty down to earth people, with hobbies and interests and ups and downs in their lives, just like everyone else. Artists don’t necessarily have to be depressed to create art. Art may often come from a place of deep emotion inside a person, but that doesn’t mean that the person lives his or her lives as a depressive!

  5. newt221 Says:

    Dr. B. You got some stuff going on. I can tell it in your words. But, it will all work itself out. You and I both know that. Just keep on keepin on.

    Don’t let the bast****s get you down. Neither the bad stuff that happens. Hug your wife. Tell your kids you love em.

    Then, get up and go another day.

  6. Martin Waddell Says:

    One thing that I’ve learned over the past year or so is how some great artists – in whatever genre you choose – really have had genuine problems. Here in the UK some of our greatest comedians have had the most awful depression. Peter Sellers – remember him in Dr Strangelove? His colleague Spike Milligan. Stephen Fry – and a whole bunch of others. Not only that, but some of them (notably Stephen Fry) have helped loads of other folk with depression just by being honest in public about their experiences. I suppose the difference is that these people had real emotional problems, and rose above them to bring laughter and pleasure to the rest of us. The problem is when other folk put on airs and pretend to have emotional problems, in order to be more “interesting”. That’s just being pretentious. There’s plenty of actors, musicians and other artists who don’t have to put on these airs, and their work is the better for it.

    • drtombibey Says:


      So well said. I feel sorry for folks with real problems, but there ain’t no use in buying trouble.

      Hey, has Alison Brown been to Glasgow yet?

      Dr. B

      • Martin Waddell Says:

        Think she’s playing this week. I won’t be able to get there, for various reasons – very disappointed! Alecia Nugent played Glasgow earlier this month and got rave reviews. Celtic Connections have issued a sampler CD of some of the acts, including Alecia – got a free copy with the local paper! Next January, when Celtic Connections comes around again, hopefully there will be more bluegrass acts included, and I will have more time and be able to get to the concerts.

  7. drtombibey Says:

    I hate that ’cause that girl is quite a fine player.

    Y’all keep the music going, Martin.

    Dr. B

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