Taking care of unfinished business

There I was on a Tuesday night, driving to the first rehearsal of a new band that was supposed to play my own music. I hadn’t slept all that well the night before and the day wasn’t exactly well designed for those three hours in the evening that I had put so much hope on. It certainly didn’t help that I spent the last minutes at home engaged in a soccer match with my son and his friend which was fun for sure but left me scrambling to the car, catching my breath, feeling late for the thirty minute ride to the rehearsal space.

And I wasn’t feeling all that certain about what would happen there after going through the material the night before. I had decided I would not only play guitar but also be the initial singer and needed to practice playing guitar and singing at the same time. Turns out there were certain sections that sounded much easier than they were in reality. So, lots of question marks. But there was no turning back now.

Because I have unfinished business. I played my last gig on guitar in some time in 1996 I think, unfortunately there is no audio recording. And once I left for New Jersey in 1998 the guitar took a back seat while I focused on my studies. However, I know I can play. And for some reason, ever since I joined my other band as a bass player last year, the creative bug has been re-awakened. I am writing new music, recording it, looking at old ideas, putting them together in a new way. Creating a body of material that sounds good together. Finally it became clear that I would have to make the effort to perform this. I couldn’t just put the completed songs on the shelf, proud of them as they were, as millions of others are doing. It might have been the live performances with the new cover band, but I think it goes back to that last gig in 1996 and the realization that this is something that I have to try, that there is something I haven’t explored to my capabilities.

Factor in, too, that one of my local teen idols is starting over with his band, that one of the bands the brother of my American au-pair mother played in is making it, and that I feel constantly challenged by writer, publisher and (now) filmmaker Jen Lee - whom I had the pleasure of getting to know throught my wife - to create. I think I want to be able to say, aside from my regular job, that I am an artist, just like the artists in her documentary Indie Kindred do. And it seems to me I can’t say that truthfully by just recording music for myself or playing somebody else’s songs. I have to fully put myself out there musically and see what happens.

All this was going on in my head and was supposed to culminate in said rehearsal on Tuesday. I think this is what a ‘mind job’ feels like. (Cypher described Morpheus telling Neo he was supposed to be the One as a mind job in his conversation with Agent Smith)

On the way to the rehearsal space I braced myself for disappointment and failure on my part. I had chosen two friends to play with me, long-time cornerstones of my musical life but the bass man was a converted guitar player and we both weren’t sure how that would pan out. Add to that the difficulty of playing guitar and singing at the same time, let alone singing songs as a lead singer. I mean who am I kidding, right, since when am I a singer? And finally, I had incredibly high expectations on those three hours, thinking we’d play four or five songs just like that.
On that car ride I not only wondered wether I was asking for too much but also deeply questioning whether I would be able to deliver.

As it turns out, it took a deep breath on my part and about 4 bars of music to make me feel at home, safe enough to give me the confidence to open my mouth and let the words come out.

Make no mistake, we have lots of work to do, this wasn’t the perfect song, but all in all it was close enough as we like to say. It was a resounding you-can-do-it-if-you-practice-hard, a great reality check, that left me feel very relieved. And most importantly, we had fun playing,realizing that there is chemistry.
I slept like a log that night, feeling like the chip on my shoulder got a lot smaller.

Time to a put fresh set of strings on the guitar, call my vocal coach to schedule further lessons, and push forward.