We have lots of stories about inclusion but after watching this video you’ll wish ‘you could have been there’ for this one.
We each have something priceless, a ‘thing we do’… that we take for granted, often unable to recognize its value or worth to others.
Some of us can create a gourmet meal out of bread crumbs and leftovers, or see the potential in an old ramshackle house and turn it into a mansion, or enter a pig stye and tidy and clean it as if it were our own, or sit, listen and stay with someone who needs to download their grief or the gripes, or keep a secret and rebuild broken trust, or hug and hold and carry a deeply wounded person, or just be there for that broken soul when all seems lost.
Most of these actions of love go unheralded. Rarely do leaders or public speakers applaud the many actions of unconditional love by ordinary folk on a day to day basis. There is no big story or answer… just lots of little conversations.
I don’t have too many of the qualities mentioned above… neither do I have an abundance of silver and gold… but I can sit and strum and sing for hours to someone who needs a little peace. And regarding this small thing… I am slowly learning that, in a way, it’s my contribution to the community around me.
Love doesn’t care about reputation or getting down and getting dirty to help another.
A story of escaping the prison of professionalism after finding love inside the music.
Like a coal miner’s son I was born into a trade and a tribe that I would serve, through good times and bad for the rest of my days. They’d bury me with my guitar and my union card.
I had a dinner suit for the bigger clubs and casino shows, blue jeans, black T’s and doc martins for the smaller pubs and seedier clubs, an array of guitars and amps, skills and ‘guitar licks’ enough in the genre’s of jazz, blues, rock and country music to make a decent living. After several hundred club gigs I graduated up into the recording studio brotherhood and, as a professional I was on time, I played my parts proficiently and I got the job done. I continued to rise through the ranks and soon I was performing on network Television.
I had made it and as much as a guitar player can be, I was model professional.
Now and then in the midst of this professional journey I would be foolish and play music for fun… on my own of course, in a room somewhere private… where no one could hear me… and I would fall upon little treasures that I didn’t understand or know what to do with… and so, I would keep them to myself and then go off onto my next professional gig, keep my head down and do my job.
But, like a child reading his first Agatha Christie novel… I could not put ‘the book’ down… or stay away from my closet musings with my guitar and these little noodlings or melodies of childlike lyrics… all of which… was very unlike the professional I was trained to be. For, without realizing it, I was falling in love… with music and these simple little musical ideas and chordal shapes.
I would stumble upon a basic uncomplicated chord progression and begin to imagine a rock pool or a mountain stream and I would sit there and let the peace wash over me. Then I would hear someone walking down the hall towards my hideout and I would hurriedly put my guitar away as if I had been caught doing something naughty.
In the quest for true identity I discover that I am loved for who I am, not what I do.. and that someone is for me, even more than I am myself… priceless.
Last week a singer-songwriter, who had been most insistent (like the old woman and the judge) that we get together for a ‘one on one’, dropped by my office. The songwriter hoped that I would agree to a) be her songwriting coach and b) introduce her to producer‘s or labels that would be interested in signing her.
After we had moved on from discussing the weather and completed the usual pleasantries associated with meeting someone new, she took out her acoustic guitar and played some of her original songs for me.
I could hear the makings of a good writer in her… and I can honestly say that I was impressed with bits and pieces of each song… a melody here and a lyric there.
But that’s like saying that the parts of the apple the worm hasn’t eaten are quite edible.
Have you ever been offered a job that seemed too good to be true?
One organization chased me for years, wanting me to take on the role of their creative director. The job would have required me to uproot my family and move again… this time out of LA… away from where I believed I was meant to be.
After each polite refusal these guys would offer more money and bigger perks.
Their last offer was kind of crazy…”They would pay me $150k per year plus a large deposit on a house of my choosing and all I had to do was be an influence over the creative team… I didn’t have to do any specific work or show up at any given time…
“Please… just live amongst us!”
I said no… It was just too good to be true.
What happens when the curious child in us makes music or writes songs?
When we feel no pressure from adults, from peers or society, trends, the popular people, the FB likes, our audience or fans, the leaders of our community and or the Boss that signs the checks… we are free to say what we want and… how we want.
We can write absolute nonsense and it wouldn’t matter.
We could experiment with topics, rhymes, beats, time, instrumentation, lyrics and so on.
We could, in a sense, throw musical paint at a canvas to see what it looks/sounds like.
Or we could just turn the canvas upside down? It might be what we had in mind but couldn’t say in an upright position.
With no one to impress… what can you hear or see in your curious child imagination?
Recorded live with Rhythm Gospel & Blues @ Cafe M, Long Beach, CA