Posted by: ryanmontbleau | December 28, 2012


I’m reading Studs Terkel’s famous oral history book called “Working.” It’s a collection of over 100 interviews with people of different professions. As the front cover says, “People talk about what they do all day and how they feel about what they do.” Everyone from a gravedigger, to a studio head, to a policeman, to a prostitute, to a piano tuner.

It was published in 1972 and one of the most fascinating parts of the read is the way that jobs have changed in the last 40 years. Certain professions don’t even exist anymore, and many others are now a far, far cry from what these people describe. But equally fascinating are the ways in which things haven’t changed. The human element remains. People are people and humanity endures.

Tonight while reading a section about a telephone solicitor in Chicago, I got the idea for this blog. The woman’s job required her to cold-call people all day long on behalf of a big newspaper, soliciting people for subscriptions. It was a high pressure job and she would be told to lie to potential customers if needed. She would tell them for instance that their money would support a charity for the blind, anything to fill her quota of subscriptions and keep her job.

When describing her guilt at taking money from people in the poorer sections of town, she said:

“A lot of them were so happy that someone actually called. They could talk all day long to me. They told me all their problems and I’d listen. … They were so elated to hear someone nice, someone just to listen a few minutes to something that had happened to them. Somehow to show concern about them.”

I’ve been pretty lonely away from the stage this year for various personal reasons and lately I find myself in an endless loop of: check Twitter, check Facebook, check my email, check Instagram, check Twitter, check Facebook, send a text, check my email, text again, check Instagram, post a pic, status update, and on and on and on…

And why? In a nutshell it’s because I’m craving connection. To use the same words from the quote above, I want “someone just to listen for a few [seconds] to something that had happened to [me].”

Don’t we all? We use social media and other modern connection tools for so many different reasons, but I have to believe that this idea is at the core of why we do it.

The lesson I need to take from this? Lend people your ear. Listen to them. Hold a little space for them whenever you can, give them a few seconds or a few minutes whenever you can spare it. We are all connected and these connections lie far, far deeper than Facebook or a text or an email. Although it’s not a bad start if we can use those things in the right way.

And this goes for everyone. Strangers, friends, hell even your enemies. The danger of social media is that we can insulate ourselves in a bubble with only the people we agree with. But it’s the “us against them” mentality that’ll be our undoing. People are hurting. People are scared and lonely and confused and misinformed and everyone gets trapped by their own ego. Everyone. Even you.

Show yourself compassion and show it to somebody else today.



  1. This is a stretch, but if you’d like to hang out, let me know. I still care. =)

  2. This really made me think about how some people stay in relationships that don’t make them happy just so they do not have to be a lone. Think i need to make a few changes in my life. I always try to make everyone around me happy and content and i forget about myself. So thanks for this blog Ryan! Xoxoxo

  3. I was just talking with people today during a community accupuncture session about how we are missing the connection with people. We are totally involved in our own little worlds, forgetting the value of the humans, plants and animals God put on this planet. Each with an important purpose or role. It’s interesting how musicians can be so lonely outside of performing given that their music creates community. It’s part of the reason I love festivals so much. Keep on keeping on, Ryan. Much love

  4. One time I had a broken heart. A good friend brought me out to see one of my favorite musicians one night, and that night my hurt was released and I felt like myself. The next morning I woke up feeling compelled to thank the musicians whose voice and lyrics, and sound had been so capable of pulling me from the depths over the past few years. I sent an email the next morning. And wouldn’t you know? That musician took the time to listen and respond with words that made me feel especially proud to be a supporter.

    Your words hold true Ryan. You are genuine

  5. Brief follow up, one of my favorite quotes because it speaks to not the inability to speak your mind, but to sometimes why you don’t.

    “The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a tellar but for want of an understanding ear.”
    ― Stephen King, Different Seasons

  6. For some reason, your post made me think of a book by Jon Kabat-Zinn. You might be interested in checking it out. “Wherever You Go, There You Are”. One of the first steps in being a good listener to others is being a true good listener to yourself, from a ‘mindfulness’ point of view. It’s a way to be aware of when you are letting yourself be trapped in your own ego.

  7. i love you. I will say it with no groupie shame. i’ve seen you too many times to tell you without it being weird. I love the tunes and I cant wait for you to write more. I will always be a fan because I can hear that you mean it! Music should be more than music. You make me feel and bring me back to a place and time. Keep on keepin on.
    And remember ryan montbleau – I voted for Ted Wilson.
    see you soon!

  8. Doping buy cheap viagra online for amorous connections

  9. not a groopie, but a grandma- who loves God, people, music . He gifted you in so many different ways and you remind me of my nephew.
    Want you to know I am praying for you

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