I Hear Music
As the evening wanes each night I have a habit lately of picking up my acoustic guitar and playing more and more.
The idea, of course, is to complete many of the songs that are just that much shy of being written and recorded in demo form. The reality is that I get frustrated, unable to translate what’s in my head to what’s coming out of my hands. At that point I tend to revert to playing any of the hundreds of blues songs that run through my head. That doesn’t actually get any work completed, though.
Tonight, though, I was fumbling around and came to a chord progression that had some hope. Not that I needed to add yet another song to the litany of pieces I need to finish writing, but it seemed to come openly, free-wheeling through the soundhole on the guitar. I learned a long time ago that when the music starts to come in that form you just don’t stop, you find a way to make sure you both keep playing and let the ideas flow as well as find a way to record it so you don’t forget it by morning.
My cell phone is a perfect place to capture those moments.
After I finished rolling a couple minutes on the basic idea of this nugget of a song I realized I had a lot – a lot – of stuff on the phone.
One of the earliest recordings is from a demo I ultimately completed a couple years ago with the help of my brother. The chord progression, played on an electric guitar with no amplifier, just me and the hollow, echoing sound of a former living room. I could hear the TV quietly running in the background.
Others were incomplete thoughts, lyrics sung in the wrong key, ideas that didn’t pan out.
Strikingly more glaring were the emotions played out on the recordings. I would never let them be heard, most are ideas or incomplete lines that are off-key, hesitant and unsure. They’re also, in the ones more than 3 years old, very raw and very confused. There’s a lot of glorification of the woman I lost, my late wife, in one piece. While I adored her, the lines here were obviously so near to her death that she could have done no wrong. Others were ideas that merged into other thoughts and became songs. That gave me more than a satisfactory grin.
It was a map of the road . . . a musical map, if you will . . . that I had walked. All of them are basically recorded about the same time of night when I sat down tonight to hash out these ideas. The late night hours, the ones where I cannot sleep or am maddened by ideas in my head and work yet to be done and stress from my job.
These times of the evening, even today, are the hardest for me. In the beginning it was due to grief and sadness. Today, it’s more due to the fact that you look up and need to tell someone and it’s just not possible. It’s not desire to have someone – anyone – there to speak with it’s desire to have the right person there. It’s also the acknowledgement that time isn’t something you can parse out that awful much. I get the kids ready and out the door; I work a minimum of 8 or 9 hours; I get home and then make dinner, get them scurried on their way and up the stairs and tucked into bed. Quite often lately I’m dealing with my son having nightmares.
There’s no time for anyone or anything else.
It’s the late-night hours after silence takes over that you drive out the overwhelming weight of nothingness. You simply pick up the guitar and play . . . I just came to realize tonight that I’ve been doing that all along.