As a musician, I get jaded about music. It’s the business of it that causes the malaise. The ups and downs, trials, tribulations, euphoria, and heartbreaks of making music and sharing it with the world. Anything that one does for an extended of period of time can wear one down. And worse than wear one down, for you can always rest up a bit, it changes the lens. The lens that we see through, that we interpret the world through. It is part of the human condition. It has been very helpful to us, this mental map, this construct that allows us to organize all this sense data, and give it meaning.
But it has a dark side, too. The lens can be distorted. (Well, it’s always distorted to be completely honest.) But like a good tube amp, sometimes the distortion is nice, like when you first fall in love, and your lens puts a glow around your lovers face and a halo over their head. On the dark side, though, we can’t see straight. The first thing that comes to my mind is sour grapes. You know when you can’t appreciate someone’s success because you wish it was yours. Or when you can’t see your team commit a single foul, and the other team is nothing but a bunch of thugs!
Often, I can’t hear music straight. Some days, all music sounds stupid. Not just my own, but everybody’s. On these days, I’ve learned a little test to show myself it’s one of those days and just give it a rest. I put on Stevie Wonder, the Beatles, and Beethoven. If they all sound stupid, I just leave it alone. No music for me that day. Time to do all that recycling or something. I could be bitter, or just cranky. Either way, best to just move on.
Recently, I have been doing a lot of work, mental work, to clean this lens. To be able to control this lens. To be able to see this lens. Just becoming aware of the lens goes a long way to being able to clear it.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I played a show with a couple of different acts the other night, and my lens was gone, or nearly gone if that’s possible. I had a direct experience listening to their music. It was all beautiful. It was powerful, it was deep. It can only be felt by being in the presence of live music. The human being being ,creating right in front of you The sound waves real and raw, washing over you. The community of other people, all our bodies being manipulated by the rhythm of the drum, the hum of the bass, the primal tone of the singer. I say primal because, as much as I love lyrics, I don’t think that’s what we are responding to, it’s the timbre, expression, character, and nuance in the voice. We don’t need to know what they are saying to know what they are saying.
It was such a beautiful experience. I was unguarded. I want you to feel the same way. Go out, see some music. Don’t judge, just listen, just watch, and let the music wash over you. All music is redeeming in some way. If you drop the your lenses for a few minutes, that way will reveal itself to you. It will wash the dust from your soul. The little child deep inside you may just open their eyes, cry tears of joy, and jump from bed to bed in the playroom of your heart.
Don’t judge, just be, and you’ll see.