What will I do…now that the dream is dead? Because, after all, I am a firm…okay…a sometimes believer, no, that’s not right either. I am a frequent believer (?), that we are pulled forward through life. Want for more, is what keeps us going. If we were, I think, truly content, we would die.
It’s the desire for something, anything, under the sun… more money, more sex, an enema, a pedicure, a new bike, a trophy fish, the next breath, piece of mind, piece of peace, a family, or the carrot, dangled in front of our face, that keeps us alive and going. For some, its Mama’s Family or Madam’s Place, in syndication. God love them, for being so easily pulled forward through each dreary day. I’m envious.
But one of my dreams, since I first heard “I’m not your stepping stone” or “409” was to play music…to play music in front of a crowd. It’s not, as Gene Simmons would swear, that all musicians play to get laid. Ignorant Jerkoff. We sometimes want to play because we need to. Because we need to live. We need to reach for more than we currently have, to channel our angst and agression, our love and our compassion, our pain and our fortune, into a blistering note or a sleepy sonic kiss, that allows us to take one step, albeit a small one step forward into time. To give us another reason to keep on existing. To keep living. To pass another moment. To see over the next hill presented by each grinding minute of existence.
A dream, not a nightmare, is an imagined state, that we are, not…what we are. Its a state of being that we’d like to achieve, or a state of owning that we’d like to own. A place, where we’d like to be, that we are not. .
One of mine, was to be…, playing live music in front of a crowd. Not badly, mind you, but soundly, competently, amazingly, profoundly, excitingly. I dreamt of moments that chilled me. Like Pete, sliding across the stage, to Roger’s scream. Like Randy on Ozzy’s shoulders. Like Jimmy conjuring up the God’s of mayhem to back him on stage.
I pulled myself along, plodding one step in front of the other, through life, to see the next rise. To see the next metaphysical mountain to be climbed, pulled forward by the possibility that I may stumble upon the clearing, and peer through the bushes to one day see myself plucking the “stupid banjo” as my grandfather once called it,…and plucking it well,…for others.
I should simply play it for myself, I know. That would be wise. But that was not the dream. And that, I guess, is my fault. So what do you do, when the dream is dead?
I have been given the opportunity. To play that is, to play guitar, well, in front of an audience, to achieve my dream. But not all things are attainable, or, more romantically put, not all things are meant to be. And not all dreams will come true.
I have taken my shot, twice now. The first time to play three originals, acoustically, in front of a crowd of forty or so folkies at an open mike. I remember stressing, quite a bit, beforehand. And I remember walking up to the stage. And I remember walking down from the stage. All that, in between both moments, is now nothing but a blurry memory of clumsy hands and elastic timing. So as not to be judged rude, I stayed long enough to listen to some of the other performers, but left at the first reasonable opportunity. Of course I heard none of them. As I had not heard myself. That fifteen minutes is lost to me. Someone please tell Einstein that I’ve learned to accelerate time. Just jump up in front of an audience and time will collapse for you.
On the way home, I thought, “this simply isn’t worth it. Why do people do this? It’s a horrifying experience!”. But I was driven to do it, so I did it again years later.
This time, a friend was kind enough to give me a shot. A chance to jump in for a full set, acoustically with he and another acoustic guitarist. And again I stressed beforehand, brushing up as if for an exam, I studied the music in my car outside the bar before walking in, and again before I joined them. It didn’t help.
I started, with them, and couldn’t hear myself. Nor did I properly know the tunes. Between songs I had them pause so I could move my stool to the other side of the stage, so I could hear myself. They apologized to the crowd of three (not including the bartender) as electrical chords were thrown this way and that. I dragged my stool over to the other side, holding a borrowed guitar over my head, high where I bashed it onto the ceiling. A resounding “Boom” raced through the sound system and I heard a “gasp” from someone.
We started up the next song, and I managed to contribute to some, but for the most part, my musical brain was frozen. And when I think back to this horrible experience, my brain freezes again, and my face contorts and I really, really want to scream, like a loving mother beside the casket of a dead dreamchild.
I’ve since resigned myself to the fact that I don’t have what it takes. I am not a musician. My skin is thin and my nerves tight. And the music that lit my passion, throughout my life, throughout the good times and bad is now gray and featureless.
What will I do…now that the dream is dead?