Guitar Zen: Living the Dream, or Just Dreaming!

 

I don’t know about you, but from the moment I had first picked up the guitar, I was sure that I would become a rock star! There was nothing to stand in my way and no way to knock me off my chosen path. Twenty-one years later, as I reflect back, the dream has remained the same but the perspective has shifted. Being a rock star is no longer important or even the goal as much as carving a niche musically that will hopefully have some positive impact when I am but a lowly speck of dust that will hopefully give enough sustenance to the Earth for another crop of trees to rise up and be cut down to make axes from for years to come.

I had the pleasure of helping a good friend move heavy furniture and personal effects from his LA apartment in preparation for his big move to San Francisco to start a new job. The pleasure was not from lugging boxes of his books and boxers up and down the steps, but the fact that about eight of us pitched in to help and all of us are musicians! Now you get eight dudes together that all play music but have different styles and as you would expect the conversations can be interesting at best. But what I noticed was that we all shared two commonalities that I can only assume many other musicians possess as well. First is that we all at one point in our lives found ourselves ruled my music, meaning that our love for and drive to achieve success in music completely ruled our lives. From our jobs to relationships, nothing seemed to be as important as that desire to make it to the top. Along with this desire and drive brought with it for most of us many hardships. Be it finances, loss of friends, ending of relationships, you name it and music destroyed it. The next common factor we all shared is that regardless of whether we liked Pop, Polka, or Pantera, we ALL seemed to admire TRUE musicianship from the likes of REAL players (guys like Jaco, Wackerman, Gambale, and a whole slew of other Jazz inspired cats).

The thing that really struck me is that we all LOVE LOVE LOVE music, no matter how jaded we have become by it, which raised the thought in my mind what really IS living the dream? Being rich, famous, multi-talented, and sought after? Or is it knowing how to harness the love of music and express it no matter who is listening? It’s almost impossible to separate the enjoyment of music and the business of it if that is your goal in life, to pursue it as a career, but when you just lose yourself in the expression of your art, it has the power to change you. You may just find that living the dream no longer consists of spending 20 hours a day working your tail off to enjoy playing a 30 minute set for little pay and free pizza. If it does, then you’re still dreaming. But to be able to separate the business from it all and just really enjoy the ACT of expressing yourself through music is truly living the dream!

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