(By Glen Peppers)
“They say we are all gifted with some sort of talent — something that brings humankind along. Find your one true soul gift, and use it!”
Ah Music, “You’re the Queen of my Soul!” The Average White Band so affectionately put it in their 1976 song (from the “Soul Searching” album), dedicated to music as a whole; singing it to her as if she was and is a female entity, being or Goddess. A muse if you will! No matter how you see or envision music; you have to admit. Music can be quite the roller coaster love affair? Whether you play music or just simply listen to it. Modern music has its times, era’s and fad’s that make up what we call Pop Music. Being a child of the 1960‘s, I was spoon fed Pop Music; and I still love it to this day. Yes, I am a musician. I play guitar as well as close to seven other instruments, and I am also a singer. Although not as much these days. There were times in the recent past where I hadn’t touched my guitar in eons, letting it gather dust as the strings began to rust and loosened out of tune.
Through various modes of depression, and dealing with a dodge ‘em car life style, which seemed to be ever moving on (most times without me) friends and family began to drift away, or they themselves were dealing with their own personal dilemmas to handle, many of them passing on, causing me to drift deeper into despair and depression. Most were either very close family, band mates or my music mentors. All whom were intricate soul-pieces of myself who helped mold and make me who and what I am, musically and as a person. I noticed that after a time, my keyboard skills had dropped badly (and still aren’t what they should be) because of lethargic, apathetic nights and days being mad at life, myself, and mad at music; I stopped playing music altogether for quite a while. Yet through it all, I remained singing. Be it out and about, or right here at home. I’ve always loved to sing. I am a performer, pure and simple, and the gift of song has always been my orange juice! This in fact was one of the main ingredients to the recipe of my escape from total depression. The gift of song!
More than I have in years here of late, I’ve begun picking up my various axes (guitars) and fumbling with them again, if not but for a moment or two, even if I have to play something simple to warm up (can anyone say “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple?). I’ll stroke a string or tap a key, and the next thing I know, I’m sitting down playing. Sure I find myself at first playing with all the noises and polyphonic sound effects on the keyboard before I finally breakdown and actually play a song… all the way through! I call this my making up time with music; getting back in her good graces so to speak. I am forever in a love hate, cantankerous state of mind when it comes to music and song because I love it so well.
Like it or not, music is built into my bitchy (Simon Cowell-sque) hormonal DNA strand, and in my middle years, I am on a chronic musical PMS cycle like never before! As angry as I can get when I search for the right words to express myself and can’t, music helps me find those words through balance, rhythm and beautiful melodies. That’s one of the reasons why I love music so! Human response to sound through tone is inherently apart of all of us. Along with the Eternal Energy source that secretly powers our bodies, and spins this great big earthen vessel ‘round and ‘round in space; music “is” an energy source, life force and inspiration that somehow connects and binds all our lives (and no its not the Force!). It doesn’t matter if you listen to it, compose it, kick around with it at karaoke; play video (guitar player) games or jam with it on iMac’s Garage Band. You are engaging in musical interplay.
Let me warn you, as a musician, I am again obligated to remind you that music is a gift (as if you didn’t already know). Tricky thing music can be — did you know that music will often become a reflection of heartbreak; it can also be a singers expression of joy at Summer Time. To me music qualifies itself as auditory lovemaking, and at the same time has manifest itself to me in my darkest hours of frustration with sweet melodies to sleep by; as well as forever being the background soundtrack to mine and virtually (again) all our lives! Music becomes an extra special part of your life if your are a singer, a musician or a writer of song and tone. If you’re an artist, music can fuel your ideas as you work. If you play an instrument, haven’t you noticed that as you go about your day, you hear everything in time signatures, although you may not be able to read a stitch of sheet music? Music lets me release! I don’t know about you, but music makes me smile; and within the next measure can move me to tears!
God, what is this gift of language through universal sound have you’ve bestowed upon me; one that is so etherial and is such a timeless pleasure just short of heaven? A pleasure I feel I will never see nor hear the end of its linear tonalic beauty. Not in this one lifetime anyway. If you compose music, your creative compositional adventures becomes an ever-on discovery of feelings and emotions, and newfound expressions; all wrapped up into a notational stew of Vibrational Melodic Creation, all your own! What have you done byway of this? You’ve blossomed a creation into life that will eventually become apart of the universe. For Music is Forever!
Try as I may sometimes, I’ll walk (sneak) past my guitar all day long, trying not to look at it, but I know its there. Its constantly calling out to me! Music is calling to you too, one way or another! You don’t have to be a musician in order to hear every nuance of sound and trackage in every recording that’s playing within earshot of you. When you listen to your CD’s, you know and feel the arrangements! If you’ve played or recorded music in a recording studio, then you know that when you listen to your favorite music, you not only feel the arrangements in the song you hear; you even kind-a know how they fashioned the gain and volume levels, set the studio baffles, set the EQ and filtering modulations, delay, echo and the reverb, on the overdubs.
If music has a hold of you, you know the framework, the blueprint and the building materials to sound and acoustics. I’ve known and heard them echoing inside my head since I was but an infant lying in my mothers top drawer and clothes basket baby cribs she made for me. Cribs that sat near the radio, resting on my mother and father’s nightstand across the room.
Being apart of the construct of music, and being a so-called gifted human, I am always falling in and out of love with music. “Doggone-it music, you’ve captured my heart and mind, and demanded my full attention; and for a lifetime, I feel that there were times I loved you more than life itself.” As a young man, I learned and understood early on why and how Wes Montgomery played rich guitar octaves and strummed his guitar to taste. Jazz oozing in wet colors, always tinted in indigo. Making a mellow salve to rub on my learned young musical soul.
I also understood as a young man why Jimi Hendrix so loved and caressed his Fender Stratocaster guitar, with its sleek contours and inviting maple neck. Only a true rock guitarist will know the feeling of how to get a Strat to talk to you by pulling on her tremolo arm, or whammy bar as sound rushes through your fingers tips, onto the fret board. Jimi knew! For his stratocaster was what he called, “His Lady!” A lady that surely must be stroked and strummed as to derive sound from her. I instantly knew where Jimi was coming from, riding the waves of distortion and feedback to sound and tonality.
You haven’t lived until you’ve plugged your axe into a wave of electric sound, hooked up to a crop of effects pedals that lead out to a Marshall Amplifier Stack, or a Fender Twin Reverb amplifier. Back in the day when I played often and certainly much better than I do now, I was Stone Free, as Hendrix once put it in a song. How did it feel to play freely and run loose, riding sound like a stallion across an open plain? To me, it was and is the closest thing I can describe to Musical Zero Gravity!
Where words failed me in life, music helped me to express my inner thoughts perfectly. When a lifelong speech impediment made me stammer, it was speaking in musical tones like my hero, actor James Earl Jones and actress Eve Arden that lead me through to a decent speaking voice. When I am overcome, and so grieved that I cannot cry, music helps me to release those flood gates of tears and emotion. Yes if you love music as I do, and you sing it, play it, write it and live it. No matter what our personal standing is within ourselves and our lives. music will always be here, even long after everything is gone, the electronic essence of our musical creations will forever exist in radio wave frequencies, traveling through the universe billions of light years from our time here on the earth.
Though we take it for granted sometimes, music is a little bit of heaven bestowed upon humanity that is a precious gift we share with the angels themselves. So cherish it! Even if its only in our hearts, we’ll always have music. God put It here to lift your spirits, and bring joy to our withered souls. We are also supposed to share our music and use it as a blessing. I am a musician who to this day is always falling in and out of love with music, again and again; but just as in love, they say that the making up part is always the best. Creatively, I found that this too is how music remains fresh and anew to us so called, “Creative Types.” I am in the middle of making up with her even as I write; and in so doing, I am once again finding that there is always a new discovery. Always a new frontier! I am in love, musically once again!
God Bless you all!