For the vast majority of people, music plays a fundamental role in their lives. It is very rare that you will go through an entire day without listening to some form of music, either in a secondary or tertiary capacity. You wake up to the radio, listen to music in your car, through headphones as you sit on the train to work, sit at your desk listening to the office radio, in the bar after work, again on your commute home and finally bombarded with background music from the TV as you munch your second bowl of coco pops (girlfriend is at yoga).
I love music. I need it in my life as much as I need oxygen. But what I’ve realised recently is that I can’t enjoy it anymore. For the last ten years I’ve been in bands trying to carve out a career in music. Trying to get to the point where I don’t need to worry about my 9 to 5 job and can concentrate on doing what I love. This has made me very robotic and analytical when it comes to music.
I grew up in a family where there was a lot of different music being played around the house. My father is an accomplished jazz and blues guitarist so there were plenty of instruments lying about to tempt me. If he wasn’t playing Bix Beiderbecke standards on his banjo he was listening to Muddy Waters on the vinyl player. In contrast, from another room would come my older sister’s music, OMD, Pet Shop Boys, INXS. All my friends were into post-grunge rock and metal. So I was served up a veritable endless buffet of musical canapés and I found that I loved everything. I can still remember putting on Dark Side of the Moon, laying back and getting lost in the endless soundscapes that were being created. Same with the White Album, Master of Puppets, Stoosh, Axis Bold as Love and hundreds of other albums that blew me away.
Now though, I’ve lost that.
When I hear a new song I’m immediately analysing it. That snare is too loud. The vocals aren’t loud enough. Why is this 20 year old singing about the complexities of relationships? I seem to be unable to simply enjoy the sounds coming out of the speakers. Likewise with live music. At gigs I can remember going crazy, dancing like a demented squirrel to the cacophony of thunder being blasted at me. Now I just stand, transfixed at every movement of the frontman, every chord change of the guitarist, systematically identifying what they are doing and how I can steal it to make me better. Perhaps this has ruined me? Will I ever again be able to be lost in the aura of tones resonating from an amp or have the feeling that my heart will burst through my chest due to the bass?
My despair doesn’t last for long however, as that is exactly how I feel when I’m on stage with my band.