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Identity Crisis

2005 Mick Cusimano

Recently a young guitar player dropped in to a coffeehouse and sang a few of his own songs. What was striking was that he sounded exactly like Neil Young. I told him he should add a few Neil Young songs to his repertoire, but just a couple. Years back one local folk singer got noticed because she had the uncanny ability to sing just like Janis Joplin. She didn't have much luck performing with her own songs when she was offered gigs covering Joplin tunes. She was booked all over the place sometimes to crowds of 5000 or more. She started going nuts, drinking, etc. and finally gave up the tour. She still performs her own music in Harvard square.

There has to be a point where the fact that people are applauding you for being someone else, but not the least bit interested in you as a real person or artist has to knaw away at your self identity. You hear of Elvis impersonators going nuts if they don't keep a tongue in cheek attitude about their performances. Some times at open mikes I sing my Sinatra parody Piglets in the Night but since I usually perform original material it doesn't bother me. I read somewhere that ventriloquists have a similar problem when they are always projecting their true inner thoughts onto a wooden dummy. Does anyone have true stories about experiencing this phenomenon?

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