24 April, 2011

Smash the guitars

It has been almost 10 months since the last time I stepped on a stage.

And in the time that has passed since, I've probably held a guitar in my hands for fewer total minutes than I did during just that last show alone, which happened to be a Marathon two-hour set on the back of a flatbed truck, in my final show with my former band.

What's happened to me musically in the aftermath could best be described as similar to when someone goes through a really bad breakup (though, oddly, I tend to recover/rebound from those quite readily). I have pretty much stopped feeling like a musician. And I am not sure I'll ever be again, if for no other reason than the psychological obstacles I've created for myself.

I had a good situation in my former band. It was essentially the fulfillment of my musical dreams. I couldn't have dreamed of doing more, because it would have been pipe dreams. But after doing it for two years, I have come to realize in retrospect, my commitment to the effort waned. In fact, it would be fairer to say that the commitment gradually eroded over the course of the second year, and culminated with my being let go after violating just about every rule you don't violate if you're trying to make people feel that you're part of the team.

I stopped hanging out with the guys after practices.
I stopped riding to shows in the van, instead driving separately.
I invited others (girlfriends) into the private circle of the band, at the expense of having band bonding time.
I stopped hanging out at the shows, opting to isolate myself and occupy my time until or after we played.
I was reluctant to take vacation time to travel with the band.
When I did travel with the band, I would often travel separately, meeting up with them, causing inconvenience.
I was routinely late for rehearsal.
I waffled on my commitments to the band, when those things were in competition with other commitments, such as relationships or work.

I left my bandmates to drive themselves home, intoxicated, when I was sober.

That last one hurts the most. And I am not even sure if I got "dinged" for it directly. I'm not sure that it was even one of the reasons for my dismissal. But when I did it (it was a show in Tacoma and I'd driven separately), I knew that it was the wrong thing to do. It felt like I was abandoning them. And I rationalized to myself that it wasn't my responsibility to drive them home because they didn't stay sober. But the fact is, it was my responsibility. Because I was a member of the band. Leaving, in a sense, meant that I was *not* a member of the band. That was maybe a week before the whole thing came to an end.

I really don't think anybody was keeping score on all of these things. In hindsight, I've had a lot of hours and months to add up this score, and realize my accountability for crafting the outcome which resulted. But I think the reason that things went as they did is because I just didn't have the desire to be as committed as one needs to be, to be in a band that's trying to get stuff done. In the end, I was "phoning it in." And I didn't even realize it, because I was more absorbed in the other things in my life. I did, however, know that phone-ins were one of the things that were least respected and least tolerated by the The-Band-Powers-That-Be, and rightfully so.

So now, I'm living my life, minus music. I own some fifteen guitars, and hardly play any of them. I've pretty much decided that I don't want to go back to playing in a band again, because I've been there, done that, and literally, got the t-shirt. Though, the largest reason why I don't see myself going back to it is that, once you've had a really good opportunity, such as the one I had, it would be hard to go back to some crappy bottom-tier band that would be lucky to get a show at the Blue Moon.

So the alternate plan was to try to pursue working on my own music. That's an avenue that has been barely traveled in my life, having only written a handful of songs, and a few dozen partially-completed ideas. It seems unlikely (though that's the problem with negative thinking) that I'll suddenly become prolific. Nonetheless, I decided to get myself set up for doing home recording, and purchased some reasonably-priced recording software. And then, did nothing with it. Will I ever? I don't know.

Part of me would rather just work on fun recording projects, without worrying much about writing songs. But then my inner critic gets going and tends to shut that down as well. All that leaves me sitting here on a Sunday afternoon, feeling like I should just sell all the gear. And the main reason I don't is because I'm sure I'd regret it, I don't need the money and, honestly, I just really like these guitars.

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