Apologies to The Sunscreen Song


Have a cool band name.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, a cool band name would be it. The long-term benefits of a cool band name have been proved by rock historians, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than other people’s meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your music. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your music until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really were. You are not as bad as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 a.m. at some random Waffle House in Alabama.

Do one thing every day that scares your mother.


Don’t be reckless with other people’s equipment. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s not about who makes the most money.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, you’re probably not in a rock band.

Keep your old song lyrics. Throw away your old student loan statements.


Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of sleep. Be kind to your hearing. You’ll miss it when it’s gone.

Maybe you’ll be famous, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have a record deal, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll o.d. at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken at your hall of fame induction. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own. Except for that Fender.

Dance, even if you have no one to watch it but an empty venue.

Read the directions, feel free to ignore them.

Do not read music magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Be good to your parents. You never know when they’ll be useful for a ride when your van breaks down. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best free labor and the people most likely to stick with you in the future. Even if it’s only because mom said so.

Understand that bands come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in music style and experience, because the further you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in Austin once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Athens once, but leave before it makes you soft.

Travel in a van.

Accept certain inalienable truths: PBR is cheap. Bookers don’t always know what they’re doing. You, too, will have a bad show. And when you’re old, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, PBR tasted awesome, the music was better and your band should have been the one to make it.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy girlfriend. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth. Like music journalism.

But trust me on the band name.

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