Lately, the two things that sustain me (aside from good friends, food, shelter and sleep) are music and writing.
The past couple of years, I have had to dig deep and learn to validate myself and my own music. It’s a long process, there are so many unconscious mechanisms inside that aid and abet in my own sabotage that I’m not even aware of but..baby steps.
I was freaking out the other day, comparing myself to a friend who is on tour right now and internally running this kind of commentary, “I don’t even know what that would LOOK like for me, how could I ever tour in Europe, what do I have to offer, he’s worked hard and I haven’t, how would I even get there, he’s got so many more connections than I do, he’s got an advantage because he’s a guy and he’s in a specific genre…” and on and on and on. I texted a friend and she texted back a to-the point reply: Everyone’s progress looks different.
It was curt, because she was trying not to kill herself by texting while driving, but it stuck with me all day.
And it’s true. It’s taken me this long to learn what I’ve learned about myself, to get to a point where I can access what “my sound” is. That’s big…I knew a little bit about what I wanted when I was younger, but I let the world mess up my soul a bit, get in my way, drag me down. I had made it so far only to take what seemed like a million steps backwards. This time, the journey was ten times harder.
The friend who is currently on tour said to me once, “You’ve always had this drive, but you’ve always had this insecurity, too. If you just get rid of the insecurity, you’ve got everything you need.”
Touché, friend, touché.
There’s a show tonight in San Francisco, Swans, an old post-punk band that is probably excellent live, but I’m pretty exhausted. It’s been a long weekend, emotionally I’m a bit bent up right now for justifiable reasons, thus the focus on music and writing and self-reflection to move through what is one of the most uncomfortable processes of my adult life (divorce).
I like the Swans, what I’ve heard, and looking at the website for the show, I found this comment from the main dude, Michael Gira, which inspired me to update my blog, due to the resonance it had for me.
He was speaking on reuniting the band, Swans, after years of doing Angels of Light:
“… there was a point a few years ago during a particular show when I was on tour with Angels Of Light, with Akron/Family serving as the backing band. It was during the song The Provider. Seth’s guitar was sustaining one open chord (very loudly), rising to a peak, then crashing down again in a rhythm that could have been the equivalent of a deep and soulful act of copulation. The whole band swayed with this arc. Really was like riding waves of sound.
I thought right then, “You know, Michael, Swans wasn’t so bad after all…” Ha ha! It brought back – in a flood – memories, or maybe not memories, more a tangible re-emersion in the sensation of Swans music rushing through my body in waves, lifting me up towards what, I can only assume, will be my only experience of heaven. It’s difficult – and probably pointless – to try to describe this experience. It’s ecstatic, I suppose – a force of simultaneous self negation and rebirth. Really, I probably only experienced this a handful of times to such an extreme extent during the entire 15 year history of Swans. All the elements have to align perfectly, and you can’t force it, though you might constantly strive for it. I don’t mean to be too lofty here, but it’s a fact. I’m talking about my own experience of the music (though I’d hope people in the audiences along the way might have experienced a similar episode). When I ask myself if I believe in God, I start to say NO, but then I remember that sensation, and I’m not so sure. So I want more of that, before my body breaks down to such an extent that it won’t be possible any more. So I’m doing it.“
I’ve never heard any one describe playing music in this way before, but sometimes, when I’m creating music, or listening back to it, I do feel this sensation, and I think that perhaps it’s not so much about WHO hears us when we write music, but how it makes us FEEL, and what source it taps us into. This is the reason I believe my music becomes incomprehensible when I drink or do drugs. For some reason, they deaden the source it stems from, whatever and wherever that is.
Although, I think playing music for me is also about connection, which is why I strive to get my stuff out there, even though I’m on the slow train.
In other news, I met a few interesting musicians the other night when I went to see Mavis Piggott (an indie grunge chick band from the ’90s) with a friend who is super into the duo. Watching Mavis Piggott was inspiring, because it was a chick on drums and a chick playing guitar, and they pulled it off really well. They were also both in their 40s and this was the first show they had played in 14 years. They were really, really good.
When I see stuff like this it makes me slow down a bit and realize that good music takes time, and courage, for most of us. You can’t rush the process. And it’s all about the process. Not the destination.