Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Spirit of Music

Where does music come from? It could be said from the musician but, I question this. While the talent of a musician is very important, the question still remains where dose the music come from?

My own experience as a musician and songwriter has shown me that my songs & music come from a place beyond just knowing how to play my guitar.

I first experienced The Spirit of Music while living in Hanakapiai valley on the island of Kauai. I was in my early twenties and had been playing guitar about six or seven years. I still wasn't very good at singing along with my playing.

I used to sit next to the clear flowing stream while strumming the strings. After a short time I noticed how the flow of the water was like a metrodrome and gave me a sort of constant to play with. It added a grace and rhythm that I had yet to develop.

Over a short period of time whole songs would just flow through me. It was amazing to me because I really hadn't written any songs before this time! I consider this The Spirit of Music because it was beyond my known abilities.

A friend, who I met while living in the valley, got a bamboo flute someone made for him. In about two weeks he went from barely able to make a sound to sounding like Ian Anderson, from Jethro Tull! Once again I consider this The Spirit of Music.

Through the last nearly fifty years I have had many experiences with The Spirit of Music; mine and many other musicians. Here are some of the highlights.

* I helped a friend take his guitar and equipment to a annual gathering of local bands they called, "Jam Fest." We got their mid afternoon on Friday so there weren't many people around at that time.  Wil started to play his guitar and get his gear adjusted. While he as doing that I sat down as a drum set and banged the sticks a bit. I quickly put them down because I ain't no drummer. At little while later I felt inspired by Wil's playing so I tried again. I was able to get into a simple grove with him. Meanwhile other musicians began arriving and setting up. Before I knew what was happening I was kicking ass on the drums to a full band! Friends began to come out of the house and were amazed at my playing. The Spirit of Music!

*The next day I was listening to a band and one of their songs sounded almost exactly like one I wrote with the band I had in Phoenix! The lyrics where totally different but the music was mine, or so I thought. How could they have stolen my song when they never heard it. The music was really different so it wasn't merely a reply of basic rock. The Spirit of Music! 

*One of my favorite examples is a time when my son, Jason, and I where jamming. He had been playing for only a handful of years at that time. He and I used to do well at taking turns with playing rhythm and then switching over to lead guitar. We had jammed to some basic blues a few times before this. HOWEVER, this time, Jason, took off with the lead guitar like I had never heard him before!! So, I just held the rhythm and let him soar. When we finished I looked at him and told him that was great. With a surprised look on his face he said, "I don't know where that come from!" The Spirit of Music! 

These are just few examples of how I have seen and experience The Spirit of Music. I have heard a number of great musicians tell of similar experiences where they did not know where their work came from. I remember an interview with Bob Dylan talk of a song he wrote back the sixties that was a bit hit. (I forget what song it was) He said he had no idea where is came from and he couldn't do it again, like that song.

As musicians all we can do is develop our basic skills so that when The Spirit of Music is ready it will flow through us and shine brightly. And that is really way fuck'n cool!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Self Esteem

I have always thought that self esteem comes from what I accomplish, the good things that I do, and low self esteem is a result of failures and not doing what I think I should do. HOWEVER, I have recently learned this is not the case. Healthy self esteem comes from the fact of just being alive and making my way through life like everyone else! I'm learning this new idea in a book, "Self Esteem," by Matthew McCay. I have only scratched the surface of this book but it is having a profound effect in my life. It is like I have gone through a shift in consciousness and I am feeling better about my life more then I have in a very long time. It is this shift that has helped enable my attitude change about getting older (as I talked about in my previous post, Never to Retire.)

It seems to make sense that the more accomplishments and good things we do, the higher our self esteem will be. However, this sets up a scenario that if we don't meet our goals we then go into low self esteem. And as long as we use the message of self esteem by a positive / negative measurement, we can never have true self esteem.

I have always been fairly judgmental about people in my thinking. I tend not to let that affect how I interact with others, but this ongoing assessment of others has been frustrating to me. Now that I am learning how to stop the inner critic, whose job is to try to help with self esteem and one way is to look at others faults to see how I am "better", this ongoing judging is starting to subside. And this feels rather nice.

Years ago I started a program I called, "Stink'n Think'n. Just say No." With all the long hours of being on the road and alone with my thoughts I could get caught up in a bunch of negative thinking. I found by saying no to the thoughts--mentally and sometimes out loud--the Stink'n Think'n would stop. However, it only worked for so long and lost some of it's power over time.

Here is where understanding the inner critic and working with it rather then a broader idea of thought has made a huge difference in my inner work! Along with having something a bit more tangible to work with, the inner critic, and understanding the true nature of healthy self esteem I have been able to maintain a much better attitude about myself and my future. And the key here, for me, is the idea I have a future to move into rather then nearing the end of life.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Never to Retire

I have been thinking of this notion of "Retirement" for sometime now and come to believe that it needs to be eliminated. Not pensions and Social Security, but the whole concept of retirement. It seems that the main thinking around retirement is to have enough money to not work, pay medical bills, hang out, and then die. Not a pleasant picture in my mind.

When I was in my twenties and working on the railroad, I remember the then old timers could outwork me. I was able to move faster, but they could get more done then me. I was an apprentice at this time working on what was called the rip track. This was were we would repair the train cars.  I will never forget how the journeyman I worked under looked after he came back for a visit a few months after his retirement; he looked much, much older! I was a bit shocked at this.

There have been numerous times that I have said I will not be able to retire and will have to work until I die. Many of my age group have said the same thing for themselves. In many ways this is depressing, however, only when viewed from the old paradigm of what the retirement years are supposed to be.

What I am now doing is cultivating the notion that I have completed the first half of my life and now beginning a whole new life. So this means I am planning on living to be about 125 years old, healthy and active. This idea isn't a matter of belief, but one of an attitude.

What excites me is that now instead of looking toward my future with fear and seeing the end, I am feeling a sense of anticipation of focusing on my heart's desires and having the wisdom of my age to guide my continuing journey!