The new Stanton West album, Songbird, is my life story. Within it there are two shorter stories. All the stories follow the same template. I leave home, face great challenges, meet friends and foes, and return home transformed with new knowledge gained from my experiences. The short stories within the larger story are about my triumph over malignant melanoma and the struggles I’ve faced in choosing to start over after 20 years of being perceived as something different that I actually am.
When I was 19 years old I was really into rock climbing. That’s when I earned the nick-name Eddie Danger. At that point in my Life I didn’t even know a single chord on the guitar! The name stuck, but I would’t start writing music for another two years and another three before I would play my first gig. It was about this time that me and some friends got ordained on the internet and the name (brand) Reverend Eddie Danger was born!
I’m 40 years old and I just wrapped up my last show as Eddie Danger in Fargo, ND. It was a good show. I didn’t feel sad. I was excited for the new me. The real me.
It’s amazing the variety of preconceptions people have with a name like Reverend Eddie Danger. First there is the religious connotation. Many times I’ve been pulled aside after a show and was asked if I have accepted Jesus into my heart. Most people who asked were not pleased with my response that I have accepted him into my heart… and Buddha, Allah, Jah, Mother Earth, Great Spirit, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Add “Eddie Danger” to the Reverend prefix and things get even more confusing! What comes to mind when you here the name Eddie Danger? A stuntman? heavy metal guitarist? a spy? a Mr. Meanie Pants? Certainly not my self-proclaimed genre of Cosmic Country-folk with a Tribal Twist of Jazz. Imagine you were a booking agent and you received a phone call from Reverend Eddie Danger. What are you selling!?
Sometimes, when I got tired of people asking if R.E.D. was my real name I would tell them an elaborate story about my Polish immigrant grandparents, the Dangerouskies, who shortened their surname to Danger to better fit in to American culture.
The name Eddie Danger was a bit of a joke. Never to be taken seriously. Hence, I don’t think I, as a performer, was ever taken seriously. My given name is Edward Stanton Lemar. West is my mothers maiden name. Stanton West is more my name than Eddie Danger ever was. I take music very seriously and I choose to have a name that reflects that. Perception is reality. When people perceive you as one thing it is hard for them to see you for what you really are.
The ego is who you are perceived to be by yourself and others. The ego is the clothes you wear. It is your job. It is your house and your car. It is all the things that represent the physical manifestation of your ideas. The ego is what people see and have an opinion about and therefore judge. It is your brand and what you represent. This is why monks, nuns, and yogis give up material wealth. It allows them to focus on who the really are by not relying on things to represent who they are.
We all need to make a living. We all spend time and energy on survival. We work to eat and live. The less time we spend on survival, the more time we have to develop ourselves, evolve, and work on becoming the person we are… not the person we are perceived to be.
I would rather live a humble existence as a songwriter than be a wealthy drone. I am making it up as I go along. I am taking the biggest risk of my Life in order to make my Life better. My definition of a better life does not mean more stuff. It means buying freedom from survivorship. It means having the means to have more fun. It means being true to my being while helping others do the same.
Entrepreneurship is throwing yourself off a cliff and assembling an airplane on the way down. -Reid Hoffman
If any of this resonates with you, please consider contributing to the creation of my new album and identity by going to: HATCHFUND
Hatchfund is a 501c3 Non-profit organization who focuses on artists and musicians. All donations are tax deductible.