Pick Up Your Guitar and Be Yourself

I haven’t been very good about listening to or finding new music lately.  Shame on me.  I heard this band this morning called Warpaint.  I typically am not really into female vocals.  Or at least that is what I tell people.  Lately, I’ve been questioning whether that is a reality since I really liked this song, Elephants, and I have really been digging Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings.

I’ve been finding myself listening to a lot of music you can soak in.  Songs thick with instrumentation but light on complexity.  I tried to explain this to Becky.  Describing a particular song, I said, “I love songs like this.  They make me feel like I’m lying in the Bay, almost ashore, back on the ground, and the miniature waves gently wash around my face, the only part of my body not submerged.  My ears oblivious to the noise of the beach.  My body perfectly suspended.”

She replied, “That sounds like you’re about to drown.”

I laughed.  It sounds like total comfort and relaxation to me.  She’s not a swimmer, it turns out, and water commands a level of respect from her that I no longer offer it.   But that protracted explanation is me being me.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes have been on a repeat in my house since Becky likes them.  When the radio plays it, I whistle along.  I also get excited about Mumford and Sons’ Little Lion Man on the radio.

There have been a few songs I’ve heard on my iPod on the way to work in the last week or so that have really stuck with me for whatever reason.  I think my brain is crazy.  Outkast’s So Fresh So Clean was my theme song last weekend, appropriate since I was rockin’ a tux for Alan Ivey’s wedding.  Maybe Becky’s theme should have been Understanding in a Car Crash by Thursday, since some dummy tried to pass her on a double-solid and ran into the side of her car.  Thankfully no one was hurt.  Now my car is resting in beautiful Blue Ball, PA.  (I didn’t name the town, but it is close to [but not quite there] Intercourse, PA and is near Virginville, PA)

All this makes me miss playing music, especially since I’ve come to the same realization James Duke has.  Click on his name for further explanation, duh.  Thanks Chip for the link.  I tried to explain the “be yourself” thing to my worship team, but I think they think I’m crazy.  Maybe I am.  Maybe I should just learn songs note for note, except, maybe it means more when I don’t…when as a group, we take it and we let it move us, then we return it changed.

Meanwhile, people around me are hearing music but not listening to it.  They are taking it in, but they aren’t understanding it.  They aren’t allowing it to move them.  I have seen so many bands regurgitate Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, The Cure, Nirvana and John Lennon.  Some even manage an impeccable, note-for-note recital.  Yet, they lack the emotion, the authenticity, the feeling, the HEART that listening to the original conveys.  They may look and sound precisely like David Crowder (okay, looking like him is unlikely), but in my brain (and I’m guessing many of yours), you know it’s not him.  It’s an imitation.  Rather than imitate, why not be ourselves?  I’m not saying write new music, necessarily, but if you feel talented in that area, by all means go ahead.

The unique combination of musicians, talents, tastes, and personalities is different in EVERY BAND.  Literally, there are no two bands that have the precise same combination (even when two bands are made up of the same musicians…I haven’t reasoned that one out, and yet it’s true).  You can, and in my opinion should, take songs and reinterpret them through your own lens and personality.

With the Revolution band(s), I plan to move toward never listening to the original during practice.  Instead, we’ll do things the way writing bands do things.  The lead person will present the song, and everyone will add/write their part.    This concept I think is what made the band think I am crazy.  I am confident it will work wonders though, when we get used to it, by eliminating the pressure of conforming to professional music-makers like Lincoln Brewster.

Common Ground unintentionally accomplished this ownership partly due to the frequent use of developing musicians, the use of musicians that had worked together on original music for years (John Daubert, Chip for a little while, Jon Bibb, myself), and because many of us were too lazy to listen to songs Julia sent us via YouTube.  I know I was, and even when I wasn’t, I intentionally started not listening to the original so that I could go into the practice fresh and be myself.  Oh, those were the days.  I miss playing with Julia, Shores, Daubert, Chris…Alan, Connor…Adam, Jon.

Pick up your guitar and be yourself.

Also, don’t forget…Ain’t nobody dope as me, I’m just so fresh and so clean.

3 thoughts on “Pick Up Your Guitar and Be Yourself

  1. One of the phrases that used to make me cringe most with my former team was “That’s not how they do it on the radio.” I would about lose it.

    I may try implementing the no-listen policy with my team. We are all pretty talented, and I think it would yield some pretty amazing results.

    We’ll see. Good post.

    1. I’d like to hear your results.

      Here Today had a policy. If you said, “That’s the way we’ve always done it,” or “That’s how they do it,” you got hit. Literally hit.

  2. Great post. I’ve always liked covers with your own twist. It makes it somewhat yours. Trent REznor said about as much after hearing Jonny Cash’s cover of Hurt, which roughly came out to, “We can’t play that song any more…It’s not ours,” as Cash’s cover was a bit different (as Oye Esteban calls it, “A hymn”).

    As far as variation in music…that’s one of the reasons I love jazz.

    Best of luck with your endeavors musically.

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