Here’s a musical illustration that, every time I hear it, scares me to death.
“Because the Night” was written by Bruce Springsteen & Patti Smith in 1977. Reached 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. Springsteen wrote a draft, but, after struggling for four months, stopped working on it. His producer, Jimmy Iovine, suggest giving the song to Patti Smith. Iovine took her Springsteen’s recording and she finished the song. It became her biggest hit.
In 1993, “Because the Night” was covered by 10,000 Maniacs, with vocals by Natalie Merchant. It reached 11 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Do not watch the 10,000 Maniacs video. Just listen. It’s a superb recording. She can really sing. Their version has got a lot of strength and emotion.
The single most terrifying thing about making art is that, if your screen, novel, poetry, or song writing is only at that level of achievement, you have to keep working on it. “Really good” is not enough. “A lot of emotion” is not going to get you a check. You have to blow the reader out the back of the theater. They have to pick themselves up off the floor in awe of whatever it was your work just did to them.
What 10,000 Maniacs did was very good, but it’s a pale thing next to the massive passion and power Patti Smith brings — with fewer instruments. To get you where you want to be, your creative work has to be at the Patti Smith level.
This creative stuff is in no way easy.
On YouTube, the 10,000 Maniacs version has 499,000 views.
The Patti Smith recording has 9.6 million.