Thursday, July 7, 2011

Me Against the Music

I often wonder why I didn't pursue a career in music. I attribute it to the fact that they don't teach you the good stuff in school. This fact is portrayed perfectly in "The Runaways" when Joan Jett goes for guitar lessons. He wants to teach her "On Top of 'Ol Smoky" on acoustic guitar. She wants to plug in an amp and crank out "Smoke on the Water".

I could have joined the school band but I really wasn't interested in playing the clarinet or the tuba. Classical music wasn't my thing, and that's all I had heard the band play, besides pep rally material. I do remember getting to sing a few "popular" songs in junior high. It was in Mrs. Scherzinger's class: "Yesterday" by the Beatles and "Spinning Wheel" by Blood, Sweat and Tears. I was told I was a soprano so I felt like all I got to do was sing the high notes like an opera singer or choir member. All I was really did, all I've ever done, is imitate what I heard. I never learned how to read music. It seemed boring at the time and I guess I just didn't get it.

Before I go any further, let me make it clear that even though I enjoy a good karaoke bar, I do NOT think I'm a good singer. Never have. In fact, I cursed the fact that I wasn't given such a talent. How could I be so passionate about something and then not be any good at it? The first time I sang in public was my best friend's wedding in 2005. My dad later told me the bride was dancing in the crowd and mouthing the words right back to me. I'll never forget that.

My ultimate dream was to be a singer/songwriter. Even if my voice sucked, I still could have learned how to play guitar or piano and write songs. Went on to college and perfected my craft. But even in college, you're expected to have a basic knowledge of your subject before you start that journey. I didn't understand the dynamics of music, just that I loved it. Plus, you're supposed to invest in a career that's profitable. Unless you're any good, the music industry can eat you alive.

I've always enjoyed a variety of music: rock/country/pop/hiphop, etc. I like to say, "A good song is a good song is a good song." No matter what genre. But I always come back to Stevie Nicks as one of my biggest influences. If you looked up the definition of singer/songwriter in the dictionary (or did a Google search these days) you'd see her picture. Next month, I'll get to see her live in concert for the first time. I really can't believe it took me this long. Stevie's like one of my oldest and dearest friends who I still have a connection with even though we lost touch over the years. I may not listen to her music every day or even have all of her albums, but she's still so important to me. Not just her voice, but her lyrics. It's like she knew exactly how I felt. And she made me want to put my emotions into song, too.

I guess if I had wanted it bad enough, I would have pursued music as a profession. I suppose it's not too late. I could still take singing lessons. I could write down lyrics. I used to write poetry all of the time. And what is a song if not poetry set to music? I could learn how to tickle the ivories or play my grandpa's guitar. I actually dabbled in guitar a bit in college. I had a friend (who reminds me of Joan Jett) who tried to teach me. But I lost interest. And it hurt my hands.

Maybe one day I'll get my act together, literally. Or maybe I'll just be a professional appreciator.

Either way, the music will always be with me.

" can sing the melody to me and I could write a couple lines..."

--Bon Jovi

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