Thursday, September 15, 2011

Diary Of A Groupie: Music Is Cheaper Than Therapy

My earliest memory. I am a small child, maybe one or two years old. I am in my playpen. My mother’s record player introduces me to Pachelbel Canon and Vivaldi as I stare though the bars of my secure castle and see the rain falling outside the window. I feel at peace.

I am 8 and newly transplanted to Washington State. I am devastated and angry of the forced loss of my old life. Eddie Money’s “Two Tickets To Paradise” plays on my brother’s car stereo. I dread going back to school. I hate school, I hate Washington and I am one pissed off kid. We go often for ice cream and I start get fat in order to block the pain I feel inside.  I don’t want to be here.  I want my tickets back to the paradise I knew. 

I am 10. I have discovered free-form dance party alone in my living room where everything is my prop. Supertramp’s Breakfast In America plays on the High Fi, my father having rigged speakers all over the house for the music to play in. I bounce of the couch, jump on the chairs, stand in triumph on the coffee table, finding meaning of the music through my own body.  I was perplexed by the idea of kippers for breakfast, I adored the harmonica on the album and in the lyrics found the words that explained that I was a long way from home, even if I was in my own living room.

I am 11. More and more, music becomes the way that I find my identity. Music has the answers to so many of the questions no one else will answer for me. “What are these feelings I have for those boys? Why do I feel so alone when I am in the midst of others? What the fuck am I doing?” Music helped me to define myself, to find myself. I carried around a little mono-speakered boom box with tapes I made from the radio. 38. Special’s “So Caught Up In You”, the Fame movie soundtrack, Cheap Trick, The Tubes, Foreigner. So much music was at my fingertips that had the ability to help me understand myself.

I am 16. Again I am an unwilling transplant to a new land, this time California.  I have never been so lonely or isolated in my life. With my arrival in the Sunshine State, I left behind the recent deaths of 2 friends, a crew of pals so tried & true, the green beauty of Puget Sound and music that befitted my gloom with The Cure, Depeche Mode and The Cult. But California brought new roads to explore and I often set off in my dad’s new Thunderbird with the sunroof open, the stars shining in and the top-end stereo blasting away my loneliness with the mixed tapes I made to keep me company. I was not so alone when the Smiths, New Order, The Doors or Led Zeppelin spoke to me of their truths as I sped fast and furious along the freeways and canyon roads of my new home, trying to find a place in myself to be at peace with the loneliness.

I am 19 and I have just discovered mind -boggling magic of The Grateful Dead concert. I am an immediate convert thanks to the hit of clean LSD and the cool new friends I was hanging out with; true Hippy-types who did not shave and lived communally. Using LSD in a concert setting blew me wide apart for music to solidify itself into every pore of my being. My DNA changed direction and my brain got rewired and I never experienced music the same again, because now I truly could EXPERIENCE the music, wholly, with my body and soul. I loved the Dead for a time and I thank them for their part in shifting my world and opening my ears.

I am 21 and can now go to bars. I start to hit up all the music venues I can in the SF Bay Area, seeing live music every weekend. I begin dating musicians and falling in love even more with music. The Fillmore, Slims, Owl and Money Café, Maritime Hall, Freight and Salvage, Starry Plough, the old Last Day Saloon and the old Sweetwater were all my playgrounds. I wanted to dance, I wanted to be free. I made friends easily at this point, but I thank the music for being a conduit to overcoming my social fears. When there was music, I smiled. When I smiled, people approached me. The music was my trusty sidekick and I felt no fear when it was by my side.

After that point, after the age of 21, there was never going back to any sort of normal relationship with music. I had found my lifelong lover in the form of notes, chords, instrument and gear. My love of the music was made manifest in physical form by the musicians I dated, as they were the ones who understood my love for the music more than anyone. Even if the romances did not last, the music they left behind was an imprint of my love for them and how they affected my life.

Along the bumpy and chaotically joyous road of my life, I have fallen in love many times, traveled the world, had a child, changed personas more time than I have changed boots and grown to become who I am now. The music is and has always been by my side. The music has always been my confidant. The music has always been my friend and will forever be so until I am sucked away into the heavens.

Moonmama says: "Music won't fuck you up like Prozac"

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