Why I Need to Play Music

My band Lint (I’m far right)

Last night, I played an energizing and emotional hour of music with my band Lint, our first gig ever. A friend later told me that I looked like I was tripping. And in a way, I was. When I play, I get a high, an abundance of emotions that no drug can give me. Reality as most of us know it disappears as I enter another state of mind: a state where the sole object of importance is the music that I give to people. When the stage is set up, the sound is balanced, and we start to play, there are only people and music. The rest of existence fades into the background as the music forms the ultimate connection between me and everyone else in the room.

It doesn’t matter to me if people aren’t singing along as freely as I am; when I find someone mouthing the same words as I am and nodding their head and flailing their arms in the air to the rhythms of my creation, all my energy becomes focused on my momentary partner. I may not know what she is feeling, but I can tell it’s a much-needed intercouse. Seconds later, my gaze turns to a head further back in the crowd, acknowledging the same connection the music has provided. But this person has a solemn expression while slightly bobbing his head. So I stick my tongue out in the classic rock-and-roll fashion and I see a smile cross their lips. His smile calls me to answer, and as I reciprocate, it occurs to me that I’m really an entertainer.

I’ve always considered myself to be an introvert and I play music for the enjoyment I receive, but now I realize I can transmit those same feelings to a crowded room of smelly bodies. It’s an emotional orgy, going from person to person, partner to partner, looking into as many eyes as I can. Then I think, does that make me a glutton for this connection, or am I simply doing my job as an entertainer? Perhaps it’s the job of the musician to give this connection to the audience; that’s what they really want. They could stay home and listen to the songs we play on their stereo system, yet they flock to a crowded, humid bar to see us play. They want to stand in the middle of a hundred other people, taking in and releasing energy and emotions to the same beat as everyone around them.

A guy looks to his left and sees a cute girl and they smile at each other, acknowledging their connection through the music. Maybe nothing more happens between the two and they never see each other again. But they will never forget the bond they shared with each other and the band that night.

Perhaps music is less about our personal needs and more about our collective need to connect. Maybe we need to lose ourselves in the music in order to find others.

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