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Wednesday, October 08, 2003

The bannnd, man.

So, the chances of me ever actually being in a band are pretty slim. I'm a mediocre musician and my only band experience ended very badly. The memories of my departure from The Flaming Puppies are not good ones. It's pretty humiliating getting kicked out of a band that had never actually been paid to play a gig. It's not much better watching the bass player marry your childhood girlfriend. It's even worse when you're in the wedding. I'd love to hear the VH-1 voice tell the story.

All the humiliation and small-town silliness aside, those four years are the reason I've continued to play and sing. I remember long nights in basements working out harmonies, trading instruments, working up song after song. At the time, Dave, Dan, and I shared something wonderfully intangible. While it wasn't always good, we were able to start a song and actually finish it. I didn't realize it at the time, but there was something pretty special about that.

In the years since I found myself packing up my toys and going home, times like that have been few and far, far between. More often than not, it's just been me sitting in an alcove or room with hardwood floors (natural reverb is neat).

In the past few years, there have been great moments though. They almost always happen spontaneously and can very rarely be replicated. One night it was a couple of guitar guys and an angel-voiced recent college grad. Another night it was a few guitar guys and a crowd of sing-alongers. Another night, it was three guys, late at night, playing off each other, trading songs, and not quitting until their fingers hurt. Another night, it was a back yard and a jam session that involved more people than I can remember (that one ended with a fairly inebriated but neat version of a capella Amazing Grace).

The other night as I slipped into bed to recount a fantastic night of poker, my wife looked at me and said, "You know, poker is the only thing that makes you smile anymore."

Not so, I said, my mind slipping back to those nights where I'd rather be embarrassed than quit playing. Those nights where I look up from my fingers and see another musician actually smiling at how things sound. Those nights when I look up and see that, for some reason, conversation and laughing has stopped--if only for a second--and people are actually listening.

There was a time when I would've been embarrassed to admit that I actually like it when people listen. I've realized that it's not so much that I want to entertain people. It's more that I like the idea of creating something that people actually want to consume. It's the same with cooking. It's the same with writing.

So, there.

I as going to write about tigers attacking their owners. I erased that post. I actually began this post with the idea of writing about silly band names I come up with. About two paragraphs in, I guess I decided I write about what was really on my mind.

There is something about creation that is better than sex.

That's what I'm talking about.

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