Music entered my life at a very early age with my parents singing to me and me singing it back to them. When I was very young I had a little Muppets keyboard that taught you how to play popular songs from the show. I would learn The Rainbow Connection from the lights on the keyboard and then try to play it back from memory without the lights. I also used that keyboard to improvise on and figure out melodies by ear.
When I was 12 years old I went over to a friends house who had an acoustic guitar. Our favorite band at the time was Nirvana. He taught me how to play the intro to Come As You Are that day and I immediately went home to tell my parents that I needed a guitar. I was hooked. I loved the sound, the way it felt in my hands, the way it looked, everything.
My parents graciously took me to a second hand guitar store not too long after that day. We bought a used no-name guitar (pictured) and a little amp about the size of a gallon of milk and I got to work learning as many songs as I could. I would play along with records after school till dinner, and then post dinner I would play till I had to go to bed. I took the guitar with me on family vacations and road trips, and can even recall having a conversation with my mom about how I didn't want to take AP classes in high school because I knew I wouldn't have as much time to play guitar. Thankfully she obliged.
Many of the most blissful moments I've had in life have been while playing music. I remember a gig my friend Carter and I were playing at a coffee shop downtown a few years ago. The tune was The Saga of Harrison Crab Feathers. We were outside on a small stage and it was fall when a lot of leaves were on the ground. We were really in the music and the weather was great. The tune has a nice way of building and building by changing keys until it returns to the first key at the top of the tune with a big Em chord. (The lowest chord you can play on a standard tuned guitar, and the chord that is all that is rock and roll. Just ask AC/DC \m/ ) At that precise moment when we hit the climax of the tune (and Carter's solo I believe) a big rush of wind swept through blowing a bunch of leaves in the air in a tornadic fashion along with a wonderful cool breeze. I literally remember being filled with energy. It was magical in a very pure and harmonious kind of way. I remember we looked up at each other and both laughed because it was so sublime and the timing couldn't have been more perfect.
I remember the time I sat in at a jam session in San Diego about 7 years ago and for the first time experienced what it feels like to be " in the zone" during a solo in public. Up until that point I could only experience that either by myself or with close friends. It was an exhilarating feeling to be free of all self consciousness; relaxed, yet chock-full of energy and alertness. Leaps and bounds ahead of just picturing the audience in their underwear.
Music is a vehicle for expressing myself in a way that nothing else can. I'm not a wordsmith with a knack for public speaking and eloquence. Nor am I a regular Bill Shakespeare if you haven't noticed yet. I love and appreciate all types of art but have never felt the need to put paint to canvas. For me, music has always been the thing. It was my release when I was a teenager. It was my release in college. And it's my release today. The better guitar player and musician I become the better I am able to express myself the way I want to. This is what keeps me coming back for more. Like a golfer who has a sub par round (sub par in a bad way, not a birdie kind of way) but hits a drive on 17 that feels like butter and goes right down the middle. That's what he thinks about on the way home. Much like struggling to play a great solo on a set of chord changes you've been working on for weeks, months, years, and then finally nailing one. There is nothing like playing an instrument and feeling like it is an extension of your body. Where the instrument seems to disappear and it's only you and music.
Music has taught me so many things about everything. It has taught me about love, patience, humility, forgiveness, hard work, compassion, generosity, friendship, camaraderie, fear, focus, drive, concentration, perseverance, self improvement, persistence, and much more.
This October will mark my 20 year anniversary as a guitar player. I am so grateful to be a musician and make my living doing it. I'm grateful that I live in a period of time where I can play the guitar. I'm thankful for what music has taught me and continues to teach me. I'm thankful for all the great experiences it has given me. And most of all, I'm thankful for all the friendships I have made while doing it.