When I was a kid, my parents bought an upright piano with the intention of getting my younger sister into music…as I recall. They sort of stood over her with this rigid energy in a way that I now realize was like gardening without knowing how to garden. They paid a lot for the garden and expected fruit that never came. Well, that’s not entirely true…I sat down whenever my sister wasn’t laboring on it, patiently and persistently banging noise out of it until it gradually began to sound more and more like music…torturing everyone in the house until that shining moment of conversion.
As it turns out, my interest in piano evaporated pretty quickly after one episode of the Ed Sullivan Show! The guitar became my musical passion after the Beatles were born! But my music wasn’t really directed. Fortunately or unfortunately, the musical “encouragement” my parents showered my sister with never came my way early on. They always seemed to be re-directing me somehow…it seems I was a very poor subject for any kind of direction, or re-direction for that matter. But what I realized was, I had a very good ear…
Music was like its own matrix to me, a place to get lost in. It’s almost like I resisted the practical and traditional path of learning it for fear of missing what it had to say. I sort of absorbed it without any real focus. I just followed where it led, always fascinated by the various unique and powerful expressions of the good players…but I was more listener than player in those days. I knew every crazy little obscure music trivia you could imagine, and I was unbeatable at “name that tune”, nailing it before the end of the first note!
I remember my first personal experience with the “power” of music. It was 1975 and I had just purchased my Gibson SJ Deluxe and pulled it out of its case there on the deck of my little shack on the bayou in Stephenville, Louisiana. It was the perfect spring day as I struck that first chord and listened as it amplified itself across the water and reverberated off the cedars and came back to my ears as an entire orchestral movement! I sat there gloriously stunned! I stayed on that deck and strummed all day…until my butt had blisters and my finger-tips were calloused! Of course my only audience was the gators, snakes and birds…it would be a while before I believed in myself enough to actually play for people.
That’s where Jodi comes in…about twenty-five years later. You see we all have this music inside us just building and developing and shifting…sometimes quiet and sometimes loud, but always bustin’ to get out…if A) we’re paying attention, and B) we’re fortunate enough to find the right key…and the right friend!
But there’s something else that occurs to me now 39 years after that magical bayou chord. It occurs to me that we Americans ALL used to make pretty good music together. And now it seems that wherever you turn, our dominant chord is discord. And I think I’ve figured out why that is. America used to have a conductor, and we don’t anymore. The wonderful thing about the conductor was that every single person in the music chamber appreciated the conductor even though only those in the orchestra pit actually followed him. I wonder what it would be like if we hired him back? I Believe we could make beautiful music together…again! 🙂