Musicians are Just Weird About "IT"

I haven't been to a concert in ages. I don't remember the last time I've been. I have several excuses for this. Most of my life, I was playing myself, so there wasn't many Friday or Saturday nights off to go. If I did manage to get a weekend off here and there, if there were any concerts scheduled, it was usually bands I had no interest in seeing.

I learned early on not to go to a huge venue like a 'concert' to hear, if you want to call it that, music that I wasn't excited about. I went to a Pat Bennetar (correct my spelling if I'm wrong) concert once that made me sick to my stomach, it was so loud and rank. Added to the killer volume was the fact that she danced around the stage, but to a very different drummer than the one hired to play in her band. How in the world can you sing if you can't keep a beat? Wow, did that suck.

Yep, musicians are hard to please; at least when it comes to music. Not much else matters so much to young musicians. I mean, there's the IT to chase. You start out playing and if even one person besides your mother thinks you're good and tells you, then that first step is taken down the long road of chasing IT, the dream, the making IT. And, therein lies the weird factor. It's not necessarily a bad thing; it's just weird...

In high school, if you play guitar, bass or drums, you are cool; very, very cool. "Wow, isn't it just so cool that he's good looking and plays in a band?" sort of cool. (No doubt I'm dating myself horribly with my choice of words here, but you get the drift.) The boy may not even be beyond the raging acne stage, he wears taped-together glasses and be as scrawny as a bean pole, but he's very attractive now that he plays in a band. It doesn't matter what he plays as long as he "plays in a band." To be honest, he doesn't even have to know how to play the guitar or bass strapped around his neck or the drums sitting in front of him. He's cool, and that's all that matters.

Don't worry moms. Even if your son thinks he's chasing IT well into his college years, it's probably just a phase. Probably. Maybe. Hopefully. By then, he'll have learned to play enough to be approached by other bands that ask him to play, and heaven forbid, all the 'fans' that follow him will follow him to the new band. He'll learn more and more of how to play his chosen instrument as he goes, and maybe his course grades will start to fall because there's no place to go that he isn't cool to study, not that he thinks that's all that important a thing to do anyway.

You see, very little of what this 'musician' is doing has to do with music. It's all about popularity and cool and doing whatever it takes to maintain that cool. Sooner or later, he'll actually have a girlfriend that he falls in love with and asks to marry. Once the wedding is done and the honeymoon is over, life will set it, and that usually doesn't include having other girls falling all over him. He will then grow up and out of his phase as a member of a band. Music was the vehicle for the ego, while the self went undefined.

That kind of thing is weird, but at least it's relatively short-lived. Hopefully, he'll never fall into "what if." What if he had kept playing, what if there was a label rep at the next gig, what if he could've made IT?

The story is a bit different for others, and even more weird. From a very young age, some can be bit, not by the popularity/cool factor, but by the beauty of music. Music is its own language. It is symbolic of emotions unnamed and unidentified. It has the power to drown out everything else but itself so that it becomes more tangible and alive than everything else. It's spiritual.

The full force of the sensitive, creative type is awakened just as soon as this kid touches a musical instrument, no matter what it is. The IT for this one is to produce that beauty heard at the moment of being bitten. This kid walks through life in a rush to get back to the world as it is when taken away by the beauty of music. The world of music includes a voice, an individuality that doesn't exist anywhere else. Music is fundamentally a part of this person more than anything else. And, rarely will you find this one without his instrument in hand, even while he sleeps.

Life has its dictates and demands, and this musician will do what's necessary to appease them, even do very well at them, but not with full heart. The musician won't be popular in school, he'll be too shy and seemingly withdrawn. No one else speaks his language, after all. He - or she - will play with many bands, but won't settle until a group comes together all speaking the same language.

It's the lack of social skills in the end that keep this musician a bit on the outside looking in. They'll marry, go through the motions, all the while feeling so much that it's impossible to speak. Knowing that beauty is music means that there's music everywhere. It's weird. It's another, very different world. All you hear is music. Ego is the vehicle of the music, the expression, the reality of the self.

Yeah, I chased the beauty. I chased it my whole life. And, I'm weird. I fell asleep playing a guitar and was still playing it when I woke up. I played music I would never listen to, and listened to music I'd never play. That beauty factor has to be there, and for me, that means whatever music I listen to has to come from deep inside, from the heart. All the rest is just noise to me.

I think it was late 1999 that I put my microphone in its case for the last time. I stopped listening to music except for the radio in the car. I have this kick-ass component stereo that collects dust. Dust covers my guitars and violin cases. The calluses on the ends of the fingers of my left hand are long gone. After 25 years of playing, it was just time to build the rest of life. The break had to be clean and complete. I can't let myself look back.

In all the years since, I've kept as busy as I could. It was difficult at first adjusting to being home on the weekends, and it never crossed my mind to go out. I bought a horse that has taken music's place. That works. There's still music everywhere; it's just not played with instruments. Nature is music.

This Thursday, two days from now, weather permitting because it's an outdoors concert, I'm going to break out of my silent world long enough to hear Kenny Loggins (pictured). Of all the recorded artists out there, he is the one I listen to over and over and over. When I want to hear music, it's only a matter of choosing which CD of his to put into the player. Live, he is even better. I'm excited, and I'm terrified of what I'll feel.

But, I'll cross that bridge when I get to it!


  1. Cool; I didn't know you were a musician! One of my best friends plays guitar in a band -sometimes two- and does studio work.
    He never struck out for IT, though. He just has a lot of fun. :)

    I love Loggins, especially his stuff like Return to Pooh Corner and Celebrate Me Home! Hope you enjoy it...! :)

  2. I have never heard or seen anyone perform Black Velvet like Theresa! Man I can still hear you and see you on stage. You my dear did have IT going on.
    I hope that you break out your guitar and go sing to your animals. I bet you all would enjoy it!

  3. I was a singer once. I was never in a band for long anyway, as it didn't fit... maybe they didn't speak the same language, I don't know. I sat in my room for hours every day just singing or listening to music and singing to it. It was the most important thing in my life. Then my favourite band parted ways, and music died for me. I still dig out the old records every now and then, but it doesn't have the same feel to it. Although, the band has just released a new album - they're my MySpace Friends :D and I'm hoping to get some of that back. I'm not afraid of loosing myself into it again, I have nothing to escape from any more like I used to. In all of it, I think I was in between of the types you describe. I was a little bit a musician, a little bit a fan, and a little bit a fan of the "cool". (Looks still counted to me, it wasn't enough to be in a band. :p )

  4. @Pam - Oh yes, Kenny Loggins can take me away! Unfortunately, whatever is sticking Fay in Florida is keeping a storm front over Arkansas too, so it doesn't look good for the concert. I may drive down to the Rock tomorrow anyway, just in case. I'll stand in water to my knees to hear him.

    @Jess - When did you hear me do Black Velvet? I don't remember! Was it at a practice - because I don't think you were old enough yet to be in bars - ??? That was one of my 'signature' songs. It was requested every night. Aw, thanks for the compliment! It means a lot to me. Oh, I'd probably scare the crap out of the pups if I played and sang now! By the way, I'm glad you're safe!!

    @Sebbie - My pre 'pro' time was spent listening to favorites and singing all the various parts along with it. Of course, I had to sit down with the recordings to pick out the guitar parts and write down the words to bring the tune into practice so the whole band could learn it too. But, Kenny Loggins stuff was MY stuff alone. If I break out a guitar at home, I'll play old Loggins and Messina stuff or the Loggins stuff that isn't above my head. He is phenomenal.

  5. Enjoy your concert. I so loved the musicians in school...guitar, drums, didn't matter. It makes me laugh how you mention that they were good looking despite maybe not being all that good looking. It is so true.