iTom: Free Music From Tom Smith

Music in every style -- except dull. Tom Smith, the World's Fastest Filker and the prototypical geek folk-rocker, releases new music for free download on a regular basis. (It was a song a week for almost a year.) You can subscribe to the RSS feed, purchase a better-quality MP3 of the song, or purchase three months' worth as a downloadable album.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

052: (Don't Gotta Be A) Big Star

Self-indulgence here. Please allow me to gloat a bit. Or at least savor the moment.

Y'see, of all the ideas I had for the last song on this album, this wasn't any of 'em.

But I realized awhile back that the emphasis of the album had shifted, become more personal. And recent news reports about this entertainer or that athlete and their veddy veddy oppressed circumstances, all the baggage that goes with the Great American Myth of what it means to be successful, brought into focus two things.

First, many of them seem to spend in an average weekend, or evening, or lunch, what I make in a year. Can't tell what good it does 'em.

Second, I think I'm happier than they are. I think I'm a lot happier. I'm nowhere close to rehab, I don't have to squeeze into even a custom-fitted tux for any awards show, I have no need or desire for any of the ridiculous trappings that go with that level of wealth and fame. And the things I always thought were the most important, being able to make music and perform and be happy... I'm there. I'm right there.

And it's wonderful.

I've got everything. I've got my nearest and dearest. I've got my family and my friends and my stuffed bear. I've got fandom and The FuMP. I've got my guitar and my computer and my recording gear. I've got the freedom to create the music I want, and a bunch of fantastic people to sing it to. And when I was in the pit of despair in the mortgage industry I used to mutter that if I was doing something I loved I wouldn't have to make a lot of money, just enough to pay the bills and maybe get a DVD now and then, but I'd be happy. And then I lost that job and couldn't get another and went full-bore into the music and now I have enough to pay the bills and maybe get a DVD now and then and I was right.

I think I've got a hell of a rest of my life in front of me. I think I'll end up doing better financially, and there's more, and I think better, music coming all the time. I'm even getting to be a little famous. (Especially around Talk Like A Pirate Day.) But, y'know something? If I never go any further than this... it's all good.

I've won.

And I could not have done it without you. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
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(Don't Gotta Be A) Big Star
Words and Music © 2007 by Tom Smith
Released under a Creative Commons Noncommercial ShareAlike License

Teenage cuties sell out stadiums
In the blink of an eye,
Rappers threaten to end their careers
If their fans won't buy.

Record labels treat customers
Just like common thugs,
Lame-O singers with fake boobs
Make news by doing drugs.

That's the mainstream music biz,
That's all I ever hear,
If that's what they think music is,
I think I'll stay right here.

Don't gotta be a big star,
Don't gotta be a big star,
Don't care if the big guys never call.

If getting to where they are
Means always going too far,
Don't gotta be a big star... at all.

Used to sit in my cubicle,
Dreaming great big dreams,
Concerts, movies, TV shows,
Dancing fangirls' screams.

Went to bed each night half dead,
Woke up just the same,
Thought that I was trapped there, no one would
Ever know my name.

And then the rat race kicked me out,
My songs were all I had,
I plugged into the Internet
Since then life ain't so bad.

Don't gotta be a big star,
Don't gotta leap the high bar,
Don't gotta limo filled with girls and bling.

It's just me and my guitar,
I still drive a used car,
Don't gotta be the Next... Big... Thing.

I'm not the kind of artist
That they want on Tee Vee,
Just a fat old hippie, there ain't
Nothing much to see.

But I can make you laugh like mad
Or cry from love or pain,
I can sing a song you'll never
Get out of your brain.

I've got all of you, and all this
Music we can share,
You wonder, will I hit the big time,
I'm already there.

Don't gotta have the limelight,
I'd rather get this rhyme right,
Not in stores and never hope to be.

I only
Need to make enough off this,
To never
Go back to that office,
And there's at least a million more like me.

Don't gotta walk the Red Line,
Living between each headline,
The paparazzi waiting for my fall.

No fortune I need to bring in,
I've just got to keep on singin'.
I'm happy and I'm free, and that ain't small.
Don't gotta be a big star -- I've got it all.


At 6:44 PM, Blogger jkdjr25 said...

Well done. I'm a Christian and I've been a fan since a Wican buddy of mine, who's like a brother to me, turned me on to your music. Its some of the best I've heard in a very long time and this song only proves that artistry, talent and love of the people mean more than all the big production nonsense that the industry thinks we want. I'll continue to be a fan for as long as you put out albums. Your music has more heart and more emotion than any I've heard outside the older generation of country music, of which I am, admittedly a fan as well. I hope to hear more and laugh, cry and love alongside all your other fans. A Boy and His Frog still makes me weep everytime I hear it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the music and for the memories that come to mind whenever I hear your songs. I salute you sir.

At 9:46 AM, Blogger filkertom said...

Many thanks, jkdjr25. That's one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about me and my music, and I appreciate it. And, if everything goes according to plan, I'll be doing this for, oh, the next three or four decades, so there should be a lot of stuff coming. ;)

At 2:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I interrupted The Last Hero on Earth just to hear the last song, and it's wonderful. Anyway, I finished TLHOE, and I have to say it's one of my new absolute favorite CDs. I really hope you do another such album...more for the suggestion-inspired continuous plot than the time constraint, though.

At 10:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is my new anthem; I've always wanted to be a musician, but I've never wanted to actually be a "star"; someday I hope to write songs as well as you do.

p.s. do you think you'll be playing MarsCon?

At 2:31 PM, Blogger Paul Heleen said...

Great song, and completely true. You do have the power to make us laugh and cry, and I knew that just from your very first album, and you only get better as time goes by~

I kind of wish there was a website devoted to other artists like yourself, a of music. Offering as you do, free low quality listens, while offering high quality for a small price.

There are so many ways to make money off music, that the RIAA can't be bothered to notice, that actually embrace current technology.

You say in the song that there are many other artists out there like yourself who are doing what they love, without worrying about excess material gain (well besides a DVD or two~). I'd love to be able to find them all and listen to what they have to say!

At 7:04 PM, Blogger filkertom said...

Again, many thanks, gang. :)

Anon1 -- actually, later this week will be the first couple of songs from the next thing exactly like that: Herbert West, Re-Animator: The Musical, from an idea by Randy Milholland (

Anon2 -- give yourself the chance, and work at it. It is an acquirable skill. If you've got a creative spark, you can nurture it; the mechanics can be built up. And, probably not MarsCon in 2008, but we'll see about 2009.

Paul -- there actually are a number of sites like that out there. I'm in the process of creating a podcaster's resource page for my site, and I'm going to be listing a whole bunch of both podcasting sites and free-music-download sites I'm on (or going to be on soon). I'll post a link to it here as soon as it's live.

At 8:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I'll hold out on the MarsCon thing, until then I'll work on my songwriting; thanks for the advice.

At 10:47 AM, Blogger Pamela S.F. said...

In case I haven't told you lately... I love you. I'm glad you're our friend.

At 2:55 PM, Blogger Julia H. West said...

Just reading this song made me tear up; I haven't even listened to it yet. I'm an old-time filker, never even dreamed of sharing many of my songs, but I love the music too. Thanks.

At 2:53 AM, Blogger themadelf said...

Brilliant Tom.
Brings another smile to my face.

At 8:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It could not happen to a nicer guy- no really, I mean it. You have consistently swerved from being mean spirited, have spoken the truth to power when you can (this being a WONDERFUL example of that), striven to open minds and hearts with humor and irreverence with a deep love of life and joy that runs throughout all your work.

FYI, I am a psychologist and sometime have clients listen to an appropriate song to help them break through a problem or overly brittle mindset. And i don't have to say a thing.

I am looking forward to the next 30-40 years of being a fan. I will be a blast watching the music change oveer a lifetime (Wait! Developmental stages, record of music... I bet I could study that, and maybe get a grant to pay for all your albums and maybe cons too!...hummmm)

Blessings on you. May you always find joy in music and laughter in the faces of your listeners.

At 4:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the refrain was "I want my music on napster," and by the end of it, that confirmed that it was. Nice. :)

At 3:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I salute you and thank you.


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