Hello friends. I know it has been a while and even as I am typing this out, I am not confident that I know of what I will say. If you are in my life beyond the capacity of a virtual friend, odds are you know that the first half of my adult life was dedicated to music. I lived it, breathed it and quite often, dreamed of it. Not the success of it all but rather what will be the next song, the next series of chords or harmonies or lyrics. As to not bore either of us I will jump right to the part about no longer playing music and just say life happened and *insert distraction here*. I am just on the right side of 50 and during my 20s, I was surrounded by an eclectic and creative circle of friends. We pushed and pushed our limits creatively but also with substances. We were a family. We discovered together, we experienced life, love and pain together. Then we grew up. For reasons I will not go into here, we grew apart. Some quickly, some slowly. There is still a bond with some that can be revisited and the connection is immediately there, as if picking up right where we left off. During this time, the music we listened to, the music we played in the band I was in, was creatively satisfying. When we disbanded, the memories associated with all these artists ripped a hole inside of me. The songs were painful to listen to. So I stopped listening. I started listening to other genres that our group did not attach ourselves to. For the next 10-15 years I avoided the likes of Elbow, Soul Coughing, Radar Bros, Turin Brakes, Elliott Smith, Grandaddy, Sigur Ros, Iron & Wine… (the list goes on and on). Until yesterday.
For the past 20 years I have been exploring and expressing myself in the world of photography. I find extreme joy in it. Although I have stopped creating new music over the past decade+, this has allowed me to express myself in other ways. Always the student, I have evolved to a point where the technical aspect is becoming less important and for whatever reason, I am now searching for my voice in the photos I take. I recently realized that in order to include my truest voice, I need to include the part of me that has been in remission for well over a decade. Music. Not just any music. But the music of artists that expressed themselves unconditionally. They played the smallest venues, wrote and played for themselves and searched for the next lyric, melody or chord that made them smile. Artists not satisfied with doing more of the same. Always exploring a new sound or emotion. Yesterday, I loaded my phone with 8 gigs of mp3s from all these artists I love. I am now in rural Arkansas and streaming from my phone is not practical in many places so having these on my phone allows an uninterrupted listening experience. I walked and I walked with my camera, listening to music I had not given a second thought to in over 10-15 years. It was very emotional for me. A struggle at times. Some of the friends have passed away. The memory of them in every single note of what I was listening to and at times, I had to take a break.
If I am honest here, I am sharing all of this not for you, but for me. To get it out and off my chest. Music, the thing I loved and adored had become a burden. Yesterday, in-between the emotional struggles, I noticed something beautiful. These wonderful artists and their amazing songs began to paint a soundtrack on the world around me. Moving me, shaping my emotions, guiding my rhythm and pace. Much like the soundtrack in a movie can shape and create a moment, I was moved to “see” things differently and “feel” what I was doing. This seems like a no-brainer and big “no shit” to many (I imagine) but I there simply was no way for me to find my way back to this until now. I just wasn’t ready. As hard as it was yesterday, at times I thought I might still not be ready. A dark cloud loomed and a struggle to wait it out. But I did. The struggle, the pain and acceptance is all part of growth and the foundation of art and being a human being. I’ve avoided these things for a very long time. For the longest time, in the bottom of a bottle but then again in sobriety. The fear of painful memories were kept at arms length especially early in sobriety out of necessity. Today, I am stronger and a bit more prepared to confront these things and hopefully embrace these things. If you read this far, then good on ya! Again, this was more for me than anything else. As hard as yesterday was, I am excited at the possibility of where my photography can go when embracing my musical side again. I found myself singing harmonies and even wrote down a couple of in the moment lyrics yesterday. Something I have not done in years. Who knows, this may even open the door and lead me back to music. No promises.
If interested in my music, all of it is free to download here on my website. Go check it out.
- the photo embedded in this post was taken yesterday while listening to Iron & Wine – Such Great Heights