From the Manager – On Music

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Well, it seems we’ve reached another month and another article. For a guy who used to write all the time and does NOT shut up when a topic of interest comes up, it’s a little odd that a monthly article is difficult to write, but so it seems to be. So today I go with a fairly unoriginal subject (though I’m likely to stray from it, as I do), considering you’re here for a band. What exactly does music mean to me?

For me, music is a refuge from a storm. It’s a language that always seems to have a way to understand me, even without words. It’s nearly as vital to my existence as breathing, though I sometimes seem to forget this (which I guess is a thing that happens when you occasionally have times where you lose interest in just about everything).

For all that, my relationship with music is…complicated. Not so much the listening – it’s a short list of genres I don’t listen to (and most of those have some exceptions). Beyond that though, it gets weird. I’ve written songs, all of which have been lost to time (for the better, I promise, nothing from my early teen years needs to be revisited). I’ve tried to learn instruments, without much success. A lot of that is because I need to be good (read perfect) at pretty much anything immediately to not get frustrated with myself and likely give up. I do need to give guitar (and/or bass) another run, having come upon the realization since my early attempts that I really shouldn’t force myself to try to play it right-handed. I’m relatively ambidextrous, but I don’t think it applies to the guitar – I was just trying to play it the same way as the folks teaching me.

Problem is, I really, really want to learn. Which means getting past a lot of blocks in my own head and a lot of frustration with something I love, even though it’s not said thing’s fault at all. (And here is where we re-visit May’s article.) Thankfully, unlike some folks, I don’t have the NEED to play music, just the need to listen to it. Playing is a…stretch goal. Singing, I need (apparently, that’s still recent news to me), but it’s rare I listen to a lot of music without singing along, so that’s hand in hand anyway.

That said, listening to music is my way of getting through most things. Don’t get me wrong, I listen to a lot of music for the sheer enjoyment of it. But it’s also where I disappear when the outside world is too much. Headphones on (or earbuds in, though no one will ever convince me earbuds are superior to actual headphones for any purpose) and blast whatever seems best at the same. Likely some kind of rock when the world is feeling too much. Give me a good drum beat and a screaming guitar riff to get lost in for a while (it’s also really good for keeping the energy level up when doing monotonous repetitive things I want to fall asleep doing). Linkin Park’s “Hybrid Theory” album is almost single handedly responsible for me surviving high school (I know it’s “Meteora” for a lot of people I know, but that didn’t come out until a few months before I graduated).

It’s not the perfect solution, of course. Music still doesn’t get me the motivation needed to work in our yard or workout. It does make those tasks more pleasant when they’re being done though. And when doing those things (or cleaning the house) the genres go all over the place, as long as it’s something with energy. On any given day, there’s a pretty good chance I’ve gone from belting out something from “Rent” to Dean Martin, with stops at Rush, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Garth Brooks, and Halestorm along the way.

When I used to write, the energy level wasn’t as important, but I usually wanted something instrumental. Otherwise the words from the song would end up on a page, and often not in any way that made sense (Bon Jovi lyrics get really weird in a fantasy video game fanfic…). Also, singing is a bit distracting from writing for me, and I am almost completely incapable of not singing along with songs I know and enjoy, even when I shouldn’t be (I behave when I’m at the theatre – not a peep when I saw “Wicked”, and I know that entire soundtrack).

Younger me had a much narrower music taste. Broadway was right out. I hadn’t yet been introduced to Rush or Queensrÿche (though I was in single digits when my dad had to buy multiple cassettes of Billy Joel’s “River of Dreams” album, so that started early). I wasn’t a fan of hip hop (some things haven’t changed) and opera was out even faster than Broadway (I’m still not big on opera, but that’s primarily because I prefer to listen to things in languages I know, which pretty much leaves English, my Spanish is 20 years too rusty at this point, and that’s on me). Hell, I didn’t get much of an introduction to most rock until I was in high school (Rush and Queensrÿche were both in my early 20s, by the same friend, who I am forever grateful to).

I’ve been fortunate enough to see a few fun concerts, though not nearly as many as I’d like to. One of my biggest regrets is deciding I couldn’t justify the cost of the tickets on Rush’s final tour. I kept saying “They’ll come through again”, and I couldn’t have been more wrong. But I’ve seen Dierks Bentley in a place that held maybe 300 people, and Bruce Springsteen from the pit at an arena show. Both kinds of shows have their own feel, and I’d advise checking out both. If I’m lucky enough to win a lottery before it stops, one of the first things I’m doing is getting to New York City to see Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden.

What about you -what does music mean to you? And who would you love to see in concert?

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