Yesterday, I heard a re-broadcast of an interview of the guy who co-wrote the recently published partial memoir and picture book about Prince. The guy said Prince objected to people saying his music was magical because he mastered 27 instruments through hard work and that he had to “observe rules” to produce Funk. He did say there was a magical quality to Michael Jackson’s music though. This struck me because the one thing I wish I had really learned much earlier in life is that there are no shortcuts to being great at anything. Highly accomplished people work hard. It really helps to be gifted, but product, whether it is musical skill, knowledge, or even a great physique is the result of a serious effort. In my chosen profession, I faced this fact when I worked on my Ph.D. because I knew simply being smart would not produce the data I needed or write pages. I know regret is pointless, but I have said many times that I wish I had spent as little as $1,500 (heck, even $500 in 1980’s or 1990’s dollars,) on lessons, instead of the tens of thousands I spent on gear (very little of which I still have,) between 1985-2019. At least, I have really worked on becoming a better musician for the last four years or so. Believe it or not, my GAS is less now because I know a new bass or amp is not a substitute for better knowledge of harmony or being able to read rhythms better on a chart. I almost bought a bass I did not need today (an ATK305,) but at least part of the reason I did not pull the trigger was that I knew buying that bass would do nothing for my skill and I do not lack good gear.