Yearning to Speak (Yearning for Music)

I haven’t been playing guitar or bass as much in the last few weeks as I would like.

And I feel kind of detached from the world. Partly, I haven’t had any rhythm in my day-to-days. I’ve had a lot of adventure and fun, but no rhythm.

I think part of the detachment has to do with this lack of rhythm that has kept me out of touch with the things in which I find peace and inspiration. One of those things is music.

I wish I had the time and equipment to play music with my friends more often. Strapping the bass around my neck and sinking into its thick embrace seems to just make everything fade away. On Monday, at practice for worship, I was doing everything I could to submit to the songs. The monitors were loud enough where I could sing without being heard, and I did. My fingers have slowed over the last month or two from lack of practice, but still they slid from chord to chord without thought. The power and emotion of the songs we were playing consumed.

It was just me, God and the music.

There were other musicians in the room and when things blended, it just felt like they were an extension of me, and I hope I was an extension of them. We ebbed and flowed together. The simple chorus of Awesome God built like a tsunami racing across the sea then crashed around us, receded, rose again, receded again and faded away leaving me changed for that moment.

It was almost enough to satisfy a yearning.

I’ve been listening to music a lot. I’m listening to Modern Vampires of the City right now after being persuaded by my friend, Kenny. I’ll admit that it’s growing on me. I watched the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions earlier this week and fought back envy for the people who get to spend their lives immersed in music.

Since moving to Annapolis, I’ve generally lacked a creative outlet. I play music at church and inject my own creativity, but ultimately, I am covering someone else’s piece. In Fredericksburg, from 1999 until 2009, nearly every week, I had a band practice with .HEREtoday., This Boys Trouble, The Good Ol’ Fashioned Rodeo, Sweet Old Etcetera, or a variety of other groups I found myself playing alongside.

Part of me has hoped that the drive to play and write would die just so the sense of yearning for that outlet would also die. It is akin to heartache.

There have been a few times where I’ve nearly convinced myself that playing with Revolution has sufficiently filled the hole, but every time I watch someone who has inspired me (Geddy Lee, for example) smile and play, I know it’s still alive. Every time I hear the arrangement of a song like Dirty Cartoons by Menomena, I know the yearning for an outlet is not just alive but well. I realized that I’ve only buried the drive, not replaced it. And when the tiniest bit of buried drive is unearthed, the rest leaps from its shallow grave and overwhelms me: a zombie determined to consume my brain.

I won’t say that I need to play music and have a creative musical outlet, but I will tell you that my heart aches for it. Having talented, creative, musical friends doesn’t help. If I were on an island with no other creatives around me, burying the desire to play, write and perform would be much simpler. However, I have so many incredibly talented friends: Kenny, Andy, Garrett, Sarah, Susanne, Matt and that’s just the few I’ve played with the last week or two.

Music is as much a language for me as English, and as I would imagine a foreign-language speaker longs for conversations in their native tongue, I yearn to speak my other fluent language, music. It is part of who I am. It is part of the fabric that knits me together…and my fabric right now is not knit as well as I’d like.

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Metaphorically, what other languages do you speak? How do you feel when you haven’t been able to use them?

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