This Thing called Music…
In my own reflective thoughts over this past week, I’ve for some reason been focused on this enigmatic idea of “what is music” to me? Granted it is Friday night, but I assure you I’m not trying to take this one ‘out there,’ although this does seem like the beginning of a blog one might have read sometime in the ’60s (had blogs been around then). Seriously – what is it about music that makes me tick? What am I still doing here, making a ‘go’ of this profession?
It’s difficult. There’s just no getting around that. And this is in no way a blog about me being in a dark place or getting jaded on the industry. On the contrary, I’m quite content on where I’m headed right now. I’ve chosen to take a path that is navigated by what I want to do; not one that’s based upon the whims of some other artist or his/her management. Ironically, this will make things a bit harder for me. Yet the challenge seems invigorating to me!
We all know that music affects us in a profound way, whether you’re an artist or just a fan. You may be headed onto a stage in Madison Square Garden, or tuning in to the latest episode of American Idol. Either way – we all have a common bond. It’s music. It moves all of us in some sort of manner, some shape or type of fashion. Some make the music; some just listen. Some produce the music; others buy it. Conversely, some love music so much that they try to make it their profession when perhaps they shouldn’t. I’m not the judge to say who should give it up and who shouldn’t, but sometimes it would be more wise for a person to realistically assess their chances at serious opportunity in the music business. Unfortunately, I’ve encountered many lost souls, both talented and non-talented that just aren’t suited to be in the music industry. I get it – I know that it’s probably what they want more than anything. However, desire alone doesn’t get you to where you need to be.
Sometimes the magical thing about music; the fact that it is so communal, is also the most frustrating thing to me. Everyone thinks that they can do it or be involved somehow. One of my biggest pet peeves is the guy that just can’t wait to get on stage. He’ll literally do anything he can to get up there, which unfortunately (as a percussionist) means that he is coming to me giving me the signal that he’d like to “sit-in.” You know – do what I’m doing. After all, I’m the ‘bongo‘ guy, right? No hard work there – just shake a few things. I must be the “frustrated drummer” that couldn’t do anything else so I went and bought a bunch of expensive equipment and showed up to a gig? Ahhh….I digress…so much for avoiding the whole “not being jaded” thing – haha. My point is that although music is enjoyed universally by all people, there is still a hierarchy. James Taylor writes good songs. He sings them and has amazing musicians play with him, which makes a great recipe for an enjoyable experience for everyone. This is the formula. Sometimes guys get together to play and decide to do one gig every 8 months that sounds horrible…not a good recipe. There’s nothing wrong with them getting together to play if they enjoy it; just keep it in the garage, boys!!!
I don’t have a big solution for all of this – I’m mostly talking to myself and you have the joy of reading along… ? haha. There’s no answer to the question that I posed at the beginning. Rather, I’d just like to know what music is to you guys? I have some readers that aren’t professional musicians, and perhaps have no involvement in music whatsoever. What brings you joy, regarding music? Professionals – why do you do it? What keeps you chugging along?
I’m actually not sure that I can concisely answer my own query…perhaps some deep thought will be required for this? Since I started playing drums at age 7, I can say that music has been with me pretty much my whole life. I’m not sure how to function without it. There have been a couple of those “dark times” that I mentioned earlier that I considered forgetting about it and going and getting a business degree or something. However, there’s no way I could ever abandon what I have. Here’s a hypothetical; let’s say I gave up playing music altogether. I know in my heart of hearts that the first time I either heard an amazing performance or saw an inspiring concert, I’d know that I had just made the biggest mistake of my life. I couldn’t not play music. period. Maybe it’s the challenge? I’ve said before that one of the attractive things about being a percussionist is that there is always something to learn. There’s never a mountain that you can climb and conquer. You may get close to the peak of one mountain but when you look around, there’s endless mountains in sight, even higher than the one you just climbed!!!
Finally, music to me is personal. It moves me. Certain songs and genres move me differently than it does you. But the thing we all have in common is that it moves us in some certain way. Now I’ll go a bit further and say that the person that has the ability to write his or her own music, gets moved in an even deeper way; one that can’t be described. Sorry for the visual, but it’s almost like undressing yourself and showing your ‘all’ to the world! That’s how personal it gets, because you’re truly bearing your soul to the world when you put your music out there.
I thank you for reading along today. This one feels more like me laying on the couch and someone else is taking notes… haha. I’ve got some music coming your way soon and some other things on the docket. I’m very excited. I’m not sure what the future holds – I put that into God’s hands. In the meantime, I’m really enjoying the dialogue and the responses you guys have been giving me – keep them coming! Let me know about this one – I know everybody has an opinion on this one. What makes you tick? What is it about music and you?