I play music, not just because it brings me joy, but because it makes me feel like I’m actually living. It’s like the moment in a conversation where the person you’re speaking to crosses over from acquaintance, to friend, as they reveal a part of who they are below the exterior.
When you’re just noodling on your instrument, and singing the first thing that comes into your head, you may not know where the melody is going, or what you’re even doing. But at a certain point those three variables—instrumentation, melody, and lyricism—somehow hit a sweet spot and converge to make you go, “Hey, that’s actually pretty good.”
Basically, playing live music is deciding one day you want to do that in front of people. Sounds terrifying, right?
Well, yes, it is. Extremely. For me, anyhow.
But it’s also extremely rewarding. Shouting the words to a song and strumming a guitar on a stage in front of other humans is such a surreal, and frankly, emotional experience. Especially when it’s your own written word. You spend hours in your room, writing lyrics and songs about your life, your struggles and frustrations. Suddenly people are listening to them and, with any luck, even connecting to what you’re saying into a microphone and it’s absolutely incredible. I chase that high every single day I pick up a guitar.
The first show I ever played was technically my high school talent show. I was (and still pretty much am) a hardcore White Stripes fan, so I covered a stripped down garage-rock song called Screwdriver. I stood up there in front of basically my whole school with my first crappy Epiphone guitar, an amp I borrowed from my older brother—and my actual older brother sitting on the drums to back me up. At that point I probably hadn’t been more nervous for anything else in my entire life.
Jack White (of the now defunct White Stripes, if you didn’t know) has always said how he basically doesn’t get nervous, almost never has. He’s just always been able to walk out and play in front of 50 or 50,000 people, doesn’t matter.
And then there’s me.
I’m playing a 25-minute set at a bar in a week for what will probably be like 25 people max, and I’m not going to lie—I’m already nervous. I have an emotionally abusive relationship with playing live music. It can ruin me with anxiety, and then inflate me with ecstasy. It’s brought me such a wide range of emotions over the years, and continues to be a rollercoaster. The hitch is that once the cloud of crippling self-doubt and perfectionist-driven frustration finally dissipates I always come out of it a better me.
So that’s why I do it, because I need to. I need to be challenged and I need to push my boundaries, or else I’ll shrivel up and disappear probably.
I don’t know if this is really considered music blogging, or if it’s more of just a documentation/dump of my own crowded mind. Hell, maybe it’s just shameless self-promotion and indulgence, but regardless it feels like a step in the right direction for this blog thing-y here.
(This was Blog Challenge #4: Blog about whatever you want. But it better be good.)