Look, I’m going to tell you right up front that this is just me writing a stoned essay. I told you, my creativity bone is broken.
That translates into some joy has been taken out of this – and this is not your fault. The fault is entirely my own and it’s because I’ve obligated myself to write something new for you, every single day.
And, because I just don’t have that creativity binge, I am not sitting there and writing these all on the weekends. I also don’t have that many large blocks of time. (Something I refer to often, blocks of time.)
It has become a chore. Trust me, the ads don’t even come close to making it worth it. Nope…
But, it’s me who obligated myself to this and you didn’t do it. Err… Nothing personal, but I don’t give you permission to obligate me to anything.
No, I do it because I want to. I do it because I feel I need to do it. I do it because I’ve been fucking lazy and not done it before. I should have done this maybe 10 years ago.
So, I want to enjoy it. There are things I want to write and this is one of them. Will you learn anything? Possibly. I can’t say. All I can do is share my experiences.
I am going to try to answer some questions, perhaps some generalities that people may have asked in the past, hinted at, or just seemed to assume. Wish me luck! I’ll see you on the other side.
TheBuddha Writes an Essay
Today, I want to tell you about music appreciation. It’s actually a valid academic subject.
I am writing this because many people seem to think, or to indicate, that I am sometimes too technical and that I lack soul, rhythm, the blues, whatever. They think I don’t have “that.”
My response is, are you high? Seriously…
Do you think I could be this passionate about playing, if I didn’t have “that?” You’re wrong, if that’s what you believe.
What you don’t see:
You don’t see me talking about things like walking into a jam session and everyone playing a set that just met in the middle and made fantastic sound.
What you don’t see me talking about is how I can take a standard set of jazz chords and lead parts and fit in with any band that will have me. I can kinda, sorta, maybe even do some swing.
Man, I’ve played some blues. Not only have I played the blues, I love the blues. I’m a blues playing fool and y’all ain’t even got to tell me what key we’re in, I can see it. Don’t worry, I got the blues.
Do you know where blues really come from?
When someone takes your heart, rips it out of your chest, and grinds it into the pavement with their boot heel? That’s when you get really drunk and play the blues as much as you can, doing things like seeking out session work and temporary positions, just so you can play some more.
I can do this sort of stuff, because I am passionate about music. I have “that.” I have a lot of that, I’d like to think.
But, just jamming isn’t as difficult as faithful replication. It’s not that difficult to take a song and make it your own. In fact, I encourage people to do so.
Why? Because it’s much more difficult to produce a studio sound with precision. Even more difficult is replicating it in a live environment.
Which is to say, “I’m that passionate about music.”
I keep telling people that it’s okay to pick it up, learn a few things, and have fun. You don’t have to do anything more than that. That’s fine. In fact, it’s more than fine – that’s pretty fucking awesome.
I have “that.” I have a lot of “that.” I’ve spent a whole lot of time invested in “that” and have done my best to understand “that.” Frankly, I’m pretty qualified to opine on this subject.
I can take a Grateful Dead song and play that same fucking song for like an hour, and just turn it into a jam. More importantly, I can do that with a whole group of other people. Sometimes that doesn’t turn out nearly as good as you’d hoped, by the way. No, it does not…
I’m pretty sure I’ve played every part of Uncle John’s Band, in the same rendition. I’ve played until the wee hours of the next morning. Time and space have warped so much that, pretty soon, it’s two days later and your wife is calling you to see if you’re coming home this weekend.
You tell her no. She’s been through enough, you don’t want to lie to her more than you have to. She’s pretty cool, actually. Still, you burn that bridge because you’re invested in so many other things and managing time is difficult work, especially when you’re fucked up.
That’s when you buy your midlife crisis car and spend as much time with those friends you weren’t spending time with before. And you play…
You play every chance you can get. You’ll even play for free. You might even do stuff like drive through a blizzard to make the gig where you make only what they take at the door.
That’s what happens when you have “that.”
By the way, during that time – you might want to think about writing some blues. It doesn’t have to be the blues, but it’s times like that when I find myself being the most artistic. It’s far less productive than investing my time in making faithful replications.
I really do enjoy the difficulty. I like it because it’s not easy to do – and to do it well. It’s much easier to do your own version, as a general rule. You can do it and do it well. There’s many examples, but Guns and Roses does Knocking On Heaven’s Door – which is brilliant, even if you don’t like it.
However… I just want to show you something even more brilliant…
I can play both versions, and even Bob Dylan’s version.
Which is to say that I have that love of music and there are concepts such as “soul.” I can not just play those versions, I can fill in around them by playing some improvisational work along with them. I can choose to not play the music as written.
I’d love to play guitar with Clapton. I’d like to think he’d be gregarious enough to let me pretend I knew what I was doing, or play down at my level. I’d also have decided that BB King was the most gregarious guitarist of all times.
Seriously, can you think of a guitarist more accommodating than BB King?
One of the most touching stage times was when BB King reached over while Slash was too busy moving his fingers and stole Slash’s hat. He then put Slash’s hat on his head.
And, from my observations, Slash felt honored by that. (He also demonstrated a fucking phenomenal ability to play some fucking blues. What a show!)
But, that’s just a stoned tangent…
The point I was trying to make was that I do have a whole lot of passion for music. To think otherwise is just silly. I concentrate on the things I do because I am passionate about music.
If you’ll learn a few dozen chords, you can bullshit your way through a ton of songs. You can even do so passionately. There’s something to be said for that rendition that was done with passionate and sounded nice, even though it wasn’t a faithful replication.
I understand “that.” I’ve done “that.” I can do “that.”
They pay much better for “this” than they do “that.”
It is also much more precise and, because of this, it is more difficult. You don’t get to sound like yourself. That’s not an option, though you can probably sneak a few in when nobody’s looking. It’s okay to be indulgent sometimes and play your own take on someone else’s rendition.
I guess that’s about it, really. The rest of this would just be me repeating what I already said in new ways.
Either way, defining “that” is difficult. Still, I’m pretty sure I have that. I’m pretty sure I have a lot of it. I’m pretty sure that I’d have not invested this much effort, if I didn’t have that. It sure as hell wasn’t the pay that made me keep it up this long.
Well, I’m glad we’ve cleared that up. Today’s just a self-indulgent day. I wrote that and that’s what I’m sending. I’m not even gonna edit it. Nope…
Anyone want to take a stab at defining “that?” What images do you conjure when I say, “that?”