Conundrum

originally published in Sound Waves Magazine April 2019

For those following along, we’ve been discussing here why musicians do what they do, even at the age of 80 and beyond.  Thank you all for your insights and personal reasons for continuing the rock star struggle.  I’ve concluded, after more soul searching and input from my fellow pals in musicianhood, that the reason we still do it, in essence… is a conundrum.  It’s vexing.  It’s like an April Fool’s joke that never ends.

But the best reason I heard was: “We do it because we can, and we’d miss it if we didn’t.”  That’s the ticket!

If we stopped, we wouldn’t feel alive.  We’d look with ferocious jealousy upon the band playing in the bar we used to play at.  We’d beg for a slot at karaoke nights.  We’d religiously attend open mics, get there early to get our name on the list, for three minutes of shining.

We’re not like normal people.  We can’t just go to work every day and come home and cook a nice salmon filet on the grill and do it all over again tomorrow.  We want more.  We have something to say, lyrically or musically, and this is the only way we can figure out how to say it without being berated and dejected on Facebook.  Music is its own language.

We’re not going quietly into that dark night.  To continue on, we buy lighter weight equipment.  We book earlier and shorter gigs.  We try to stay in shape so we don’t fall down on stage.  It’s human nature, you see?  We fight to survive, aim to hold on to things that matter, to achieve, to be all we can be, no matter what it takes, even if it kills us.  We do what is required to fulfill our desires and to not have that Stepford Wife look in our eyes, trolling through our days.  We do not want to live a life of quiet desperation.

In a music store the other day I witnessed a guy blissfully shredding on a sunburst Tele flawlessly executing everything from Dire Straits, to Lindsey Buckingham to Duane Allman to Lynyrd Skynyrd and beyond.  He’s not in a band.  And I wanted to just simply cry 96 tears.  I had to sit there and take it, reveling in the glory of his talent, in solitude.

It’s hard work, staying in a band and performing and putting up with all sorts of atrocities.  But we’re following our dream – even if it most likely leads to nowhere.  This is why we still do it.  So, get off your cell phones and stop talking during our shows!  Peace out.

 

Why Do We STILL Do It

originally published in Sound Waves Magazine March 2019

Three years ago, in this very blog, I asked the rhetorical question of we musicians – Why Do We Do It?  If we never made it as a rock star by now, what on earth was the point in continuing the charade?  Why continue to put up with the empty clubs, the lugging, loading, maintaining of equipment, the late nights, the back aches, the sore throats, the bloody fingers, the ridicule, the blame game between club owner and band, the in-fighting, the drama.  For a few dollars and a couple hand claps.

Back then, I received replies from songwriters, garage bands, bedroom players, cover bands, young ones, old ones, nobodies, wannabes and people making a darn good enough living with music.

The WHY we do it is simple.  We were put on this earth for it and we can’t deny it.

The why we STILL do it remains a bit more complicated.

Recently, a guy told me, “At 30 years old, I gave up.  Why would I continue to pretend to be a rock star on stage for two hours when I’m absolutely never going to be?”  Then I talked to a 60-year old who said, “I still do it because I’m simply not done yet.”  Then I tried to understand why the 80-year old the other night heaved a massive piano with 80 weighted keys into a venue for his weekly gig.  I didn’t get to talk to him; he started jamming with his band mates right away.  80 years old?  Really?

Is it STILL in the hopes of having a Lady Gaga Bradley Cooper moment at the Oscars?  Still thinking there might be a chance to rock arenas like Freddie Mercury?  Because having a steady gig with your buddies in your 80s will always be better than watching Jeopardy on the couch, in your 80s?  We like living in vans and never warmed to kitchens and baths?

Personally, I am still struggling to find the answer to the question:  Why STILL?

I guess it’s like at the end of that movie “Contact” when Jodie Foster is talking to kids pointing her satellite to the Heavens wondering if “it’s just us” in the Universe, and she says, “As long as you keep looking for your own answers…”

And so on we go.