Your Very, Very Long Tail

Every gig you play, every time you put your name on something, it adds another puzzle piece of who you are to people’s memory. That gig you took just because it paid well even though you weren’t excited about playing it? That’s going to have an impression with people who follow you, look up to you. For better, or for worse. 


A few days ago, I had someone come up to me and tell me they’d heard I was playing at a church that I’d left almost 7 years ago. Amazingly, this person had seen my name and face on their website that was still up, and assumed that I still played there. 


While I loved that church and I didn’t feel any negativity toward this impression, it struck me just how long things we do so casually linger on for years. Makes me glad I’ve played some of the shows I’ve played in the past, and nervous that people will discover other shows I’ve played just for the money (yes, I’ve fallen prey to that trap occasionally). 


Next time I take (or don’t take) a gig, I’m going to ask myself this uncomfortable question: do I want someone 7 years from now to remember me by this gig alone?