Monday, February 21, 2011
My head might be crippled but my left arm works fine, at least it did until I played guitar for nine hours and my hand seized up in a claw-shape...the cramp passed pretty quickly but it brought back a painful memory from the winter of 2001, back when I had nerve damage in my left arm and was getting a second opinion after being told I'd probably need an amputation. The second surgeon told me he could save my arm and he did, but by that time I'd completely lost the use of my hand and needed six months of physical therapy before I could tie my shoes, much less play guitar. I sort of resigned myself to the fact that I'd never play again and settled for an aimless, empty life of marathon misery and demolition drinking.
I will find a shrink and try to work out some details, but in a broad sense I felt an overwhelming sense of loss when I quit playing and I think the booze and pills were my sad attempt at filling the void that my music left behind.
Three things saved my life. One was music, in the form of the radio station that I am still a proud member of. The other two things were surgeries.
Music isn't a hobby for me and it certainly isn't my job, it is something much more important and difficult to define- something that includes but also transcends passion .
I really can't explain it properly, it would seem daft to most people to spend so much time, money and energy on something that doesn't generate revenue...but then again, it dawns on me that I probably spend as much time and money on playing guitar and music as the average American spends on watching TV and movies, which makes playing guitar seem like the essence of sanity in comparison.
Right now I'm leaning on my guitar like I would lean on a lover or a drug; it is the safest and surest way for me to get through the turmoil inside my head. I know I'm not the greatest player on the planet, but I like to think that I have a sound that is unique and expressive, which I think is rare thing in world full of sound-alike guitar clones, if I must say so myself...and I must also say that I'm pretty fucking happy that I can play guitar for nine hours before my arm cramps up. A couple of years ago I could only play for about 45 minutes at a time, so this is huge progress.
It has been so gradual that I haven't really noticed, but it is a welcome improvement.
But I have to put my beloved axe down for a few days and head to Washington D.C. to learn a new computer system so that I can train new employees in the near future. I'm not sure how I got to be in this position, but I seem to be the only employee in my company who understands how certain databases work and I hope I'm not the only one who notices this, because I'm scheduled to have lunch with the Big Boss tomorrow and I really want some good news to go along with all my hard work.
And when I get home, I have a guitar and a radio show waiting for me. The only thing I need to do to get my music on the radio is to make the music, and if that isn't enough motivation to practice, I don't know what is. Have you ever been driving around town and suddenly heard your own band on the radio? I have, and it is a very good feeling. I'm a lucky guy.
There have been moments recently when I wasn't sure if I'd ever want to play again , but I think those moments have passed and I'm already anticipating the next project, even if I'm not exactly sure what that may be.
But now I need some rest because I have to get up very, very early tomorrow.
When I get back, I'll try to fix this mess in my head and maybe even get a few songs out of the process. There's work to be done and some of it will be good, so stay tuned.
Until then, goodnight and thank you for listening.