Saturday, November 06, 2004

Possessed by the Eagles

The band plays a minimum of two gigs a year: the bike-fest and Halloween. We didn't play the bike gig. We didn't play Halloween, damn it! Once again K bailed. Halloween is a great gig, no pressure, all fun. K decided that he wanted to see Cheap Trick instead. I can't think any band I would pass up a gig to see. Not Tom Waits, not Elvis Costello, not even a back from the dead Clash. Making music is always better than listening to it.

I did get to play, the second party the LUC and I went to was a quiet little affair. Just a few people and a couple of guitars. Three of the four women were music theater types, good singers and not at all shy. None of them played guitar particularly well. I snagged an instrument in a moment of inattention and didn't let it go. Keeping it wasn't hard, all I had to do was keep playing. A task made easy because all the songs used the same four chords. This kind of improvisation is fun because the harmonies change so little there's lots of room for experimentation. Mind you, playing under a singer requires a subtle touch. You can't get too out there or you'll throw them.

The LUC gave me a hug from behind while I was playing, and that my friends is why I'd rather play than listen. No, not because of the sex. Well, not entirely.

It's about connection. I know people who find community in shared experience but I'm not really like that. For me the act of appreciating music is a solitary one. It's too subjective, I'm always wondering if what I heard was the same as what my companions heard. It's too hard to explain after the fact that interesting key change or whatever, and too annoying for everyone to point it out at the time. Forget about trying to describe the emotions the music inspires, every time I've tried I get bemused and embarrassed looks.

But when I'm playing there's one less level of interpretation, at least I don't have to wonder whether I heard things correctly. I'm probably kidding myself, we're all trapped in our brain bubbles and who can really know if our perceptions are the same? But at least it feels like a conversation rather than a debate. There's an exchange of ideas between me and the audience rather than an after the fact discussion of a third party experience.

It might be all an illusion but I love the feeling of connection when people are really listening. Unfortunately the only time that happened was during Hotel California. Man, I haven't been able to get it out of my head! It was a good one for me because it has a guitar solo so I got to step out a little. P and his partner did a drunken vocal interpretation of the solo and despite that everyone still listened to me. How do I know? Because it went on for twice the normal length and only stopped when I gave up trying to drown out the intoxicated stupidity happening behind me. But I digress, I was talking about hugs.

What is a hug? I played well and with passion, and she heard and appreciated it. In this case it was concrete proof of a connection and that rocks.

So: a pretty good Halloween despite not doing a real gig, now if only I could get that demon song out of my head.

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