Tuesday, December 18, 2012

the ever pestilent question of the musician...

We sat up all night long, laughing and smoking; manifesting our nostalgia; drinking and talking. All the while, we stared into the fire as if there were nothing else in the entire world worth looking at. As if the controls of our head had been commandeered by moths hellbent on flying straight into the heart of a mesmerizing light. Luckily, no one fell in; likely because our bodies were numb and sunken deep into our chairs with no hope of ever standing back up. There was no will or apparent ability to do so. Our drunk, limp bodies and the chairs in which they sat, melted into one mindless being. Our hearts were heavy with deep, fond feelings for the wonderful moment that we were so blessed to experience together. Friends sharing life and music; fire and drink - a small microcosm of Peace and Sanity in a world of Chaos and Madness.

As the time and the alcohol progressed, the conversations grew heavier. Amidst the barrage of drunken "I love you mans" were ruminations on different human perspectives; the fallacies of stereotypes; circular questions of truth and time; the infinite spans of the universe(s); the potential in future human technologies; the meaning and purpose of life; the dangers and beauties of religion; and then more "I love you mans"...

These wonderful ponderments were interspersed with brief outbursts of idiocy in order to lighten our intellectual load. We wondered if male olympic swimmers shaved their balls? Why mustaches aren't called mouth brows? Are breast implants effective floatation devices? How exactly does corn reconstruct itself after a bowel movement? And don't you dare tell me its cellulose! Can you simultaneously believe in science and magic? Why not?

We solved all of the deepest, most pressing questions of the day. Now, we know why people do the things they do because that is the way of the world. The answer to every why? is because. Our eyes were open, though somewhat slanted. We saw more clearly and more blearily at the same time. A drunken philosopher farts from both ends, and the hot gas exuding from our mouths was equally repulsive to anything that ever came from our rears. 

I grabbed the guitar, and made a few cockeyed strums. The steel strings offered a resistance to my fingers that seemed to emphasize the slowing synapses of my brain. Do I even know how to play this thing anymore? Maybe not. I have an idea in my head, but bringing that idea forth into the world will be a painful birth. Many will suffer. Ears may bleed. This could get ugly.

"Sing one!" the voices on the other side of the glowing embers call out to me.

"OK..." I reply in reluctance.

One simply can't dilly dally on a guitar around the fire. No! A song must be played. And from start to finish too. Don't give me none of this half-assed, I forgot the words; I'm drunk; I don't feel like it bullshit. The people must be entertained! 

The search begins in the song database of my mind for an appropriate number, and the ever pestilent question of the musician pops into my brain, "Do I play what I think everybody wants to hear? Or do I play what I feel like playing right now?"

Of course, there is the third factor to consider, "What am I capable of pulling off right now with my current level of intoxication?"

It never fails. Even in the most comfortable of environments, surrounded by the closest of friends. The struggle persists between the artist and audience on the basis of motivation and purpose. Who am I doing this for and why? Is it for me? Or is it for the approval of others? What drives me to make music? Why do I think about it night and day, yearning to sing out and make noise that will rattle the earth? What is it that I hope to gain by singing songs? Approval? or Release?

"Are you gonna play one or what?" an obvious response to my extended moment of inner conflict. 

I think I'll play one of my tunes... And after the first few strums, the voices inside my head go quiet. 

"Oh," I thought. "That's why I play."

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