I’ve made no secrets about the so-called “musicality” of my family. We live in a musical household, my kids grew up with it and for years saw their father leave on many weekend nights to go play whatever gig paid a small amount of cash for his services.
Some would question whether all that effort was worth it.
The thing is . . . the last two years have shown me it’s completely worth it.
There aren’t a lot of things that you bring into a relationship that remain specifically and only yours. That’s a good thing, for the most part, but my late wife’s inability to create or even understand the creative process for music was a hindrance at times. A basis for knock-down drag-out arguments at others. Why? It wasn’t, for the two of us, a communal thing. When we were dating it was neat, quirky and fun. When we were raising a family she saw it as a nuisance. That was her and I don’t say it as a criticism. She had a million amazing things about her . . . that just wasn’t one of them.
But then she left. Simple as that. Not on-purpose, it wasn’t her fault, it wasn’t really anybody’s fault. Just one day she wasn’t there. Suddenly everything that had become such common-ground for us was now a hindrance. It was a reminder of her and the loss and the end of marriage and all of it.
Music helped me heal. Hell…it helped all of us to heal. In the week after Andrea died I picked up my guitar and just played it. Christ, I even beat on it. It’s a wonderful testament to the Fender company that my green Eric Clapton model Stratocaster (affectionately dubbed “dot” from the green 7-up can color) survived those weeks. I was soft, hard, angry, sad, and just miserable at times. It got wet with tears. It suffered indignity of broken strings from massive power chords beaten too hard on the pickguard. Scratches still mar the 7-up green surface of the guitar with waxy residue from the picks I destroyed scraping the surface.
I have only begun to piece together the songs from the massive amount of writing and playing I did in those weeks. Some have no lyrics. Some were re-written. Others had pieces of inspiration that can lead to better things. It took me two years to come to terms with the fact that it’s okay to be where I am. Sadly, only one song of mine was completed so far, but it will make the newest recording session for my brother and I to release in the Fall.
But music wasn’t just written. It was listened to, near constantly. I decided if we didn’t have it playing and swirling around us before it should now. When we eat dinner it plays – on the stereo, on the cardboard radio with an ipod. Hell, we sing, we jam, I teach Hannah songs. It’s one thing that ended up being communal. Abbi sings. Sam is in the school musical. Christ, I even jammed with a singer-songwriter who I now consider a friend. (a term I never use lightly)
Music helped us heal. We do make beautiful music together, even when we’re off key or off beat or what have you. The world may never hear it, nor long remember what we play. But play we do.
Nothing about what we’re facing is perfect. But it wasn’t two years ago, either, so why try and apply life in the past to the future? At the end of the day we have to do what works for us.
And for us . . . it’s making beautiful music together.