Music Will Not Let Us Go

Some years ago I found myself at a high school reunion in deep conversation reminiscing with an ex-girlfriend who I hadn’t seen since my sophomore year. Catching up and getting reacquainted with her made for a wonderful evening. 

While we were waiting for the third round of drinks to arrive my old paramour recalled her most prominent memory of me: 

“I remember you were really… into music.” 

This was not meant as a compliment. The word ‘music’ tumbled from her lips as if she were referring to something one would not want to be cursed with. Her tone wavered between dread and compassion, as if an obsession with music was akin to tuberculosis or amoebic dysentery or some other thing you’d want to avoid catching. 

My ex’s observation wasn’t anything new, but the revelation that I was pretty much the same at 14 as I was that night at the reunion triggered an epiphany. After so many years of listening, playing, performing and writing about music, I realized that my attachment to it will always be seen by most people as a game for fools.

And those people are right. I am the misfit, and they represent the correct order of things. They are free to treat music as casual amusement. I can’t. 

Smashed guitar - Gibson SG

There are others like me. For us, the power of music doesn’t fade. It will not let go of us. There is always something playing in our heads. We pore over the architecture of someone’s new composition. Recall the body language of players seen on a club stage at arms distance from us decades earlier and retain it as instruction. If a friend introduces us to something new and strange and it permanently changes our point of view. We are drawn to the strangeness of lyric poetry we may never quite decipher over rhythms that are simultaneously alien yet familiar. Always seeking music that is something new or something old newly discovered, and it doesn’t matter how much we’ve known or loved or hated or how much we’ve got stashed away in playlists or files or shelving there’s always room for something new. 

So yes I’m really… into music. And after that conversation at the opulent hotel bar with my lovely ex it’s become fixed in my mind that I’m never going to convincingly impersonate anyone in mainstream society. I have to embrace being one of a relatively small group of people in the world who have traded financial success and mainstream social connectivity for the opportunity to love music completely and create it with an uncommon intensity. 

Each to their own contribution. And, fate willing, whatever yours may be I hope it’s something you’re really… into.