Back in college, I had it in my head that I will never actually be a very good musician. Now don’t get me wrong, I have always played and sang for myself – not for anyone else, not for my parents, for my church, for friends, for the masses. Music has always been a very intensely personal and intrinsic part of my life. Music has been my salvation in many ways many times.
But at the end of the day, I gave up the dreams of being able to make a living at it. I stopped trying to write stuff. I stopped playing in public. I stopped learning new skills and sounds. I just stopped. For about ten years.
I lived in Denver, Colorado, for almost 6 years and in all the time I was there, I played in public exactly once. It was a special music when I played keyboard and sang backup for my brother at his church. The rest of that time, none of my Colorado friends even really knew I had musical ability. Judging from our karaoke outings, they probably thought just the opposite, like yeah that girl canNOT carry a tune. But boy is she silly when she’s drunk. (Hey, I can be self-deprecating if I wanna be. This is my blog!)
Thing is, though, I craved music. When the opportunity to start checking out live music came up, it quickly took over my social calendar, sometimes going to shows almost 5 times a week consistently for months. I enjoyed the spectactor position more than I thought I would. For most of the time growing up, I preferred to be the one playing, and then somewhere along the line I discovered it was so less stressful to be in the audience. But what happens to some of us is you become more critical and can sit back and tear apart others’ abilities. It’s easy to be an armchair quarterback, right.
Then I started to play again. It kinda just happened that way – Providence, fate, God’s divine intervention. I got my music back. My dear friend Chris Mills invited me to a practice at church and sitting in with “the band” sparked something in me like it had reached the end of a firecracker wick and sent it soaring into the night air. music exploded back at me.
I can’t say that it isn’t sad at times to me that I lost so many years. I start playing stuff now and think, where would I be if I hadn’t let the music die? My technical skills and strength in my voice and fingers come back in slow increments; it is NOT like riding a bike. It’s a tedious process and sometimes I just start to bang my head, literally, on a book or the hymnal. Those hymnals hurt by the way. But it’s nice to have it back, especially now that I seem to have a lot of time on my hands. I sit and play for hours – though I still find myself wishing I had learned more from other musicians in my life. There’s still time I guess.
So now I find myself knee deep in 80s songs, picking through stuff I can maybe play for a special event coming up next month. It has been way too much fun and terribly cheesy. But it’s fitting really, to go backward 20 years and reclaim all that time I’ve lost… “on and on, I’ve no regrets. The sun still shines; the sun still sets, and the heart forgives, the heart forgets. Oh what will I do now with all this time?”