So, I said I'd blog about music and bands and rock and roll and all that, right? Well, when I was a kid, growing up in a tiny town in Northern Minnesota, I wanted more than anything in the world to be a rock star. It was the 80s, and I wanted long hair, a bad attitude, and at least one self-destructive-but-glamorous habit. I was also interested in playing music, but mostly because that’s what rock stars did. The ability to either scream your lungs out or play ear-melting guitar solos seemed like the surest path to rock stardom, but therein lie the problem: I could do neither. I could sing, but I had a range of about three notes. And as far as rippin guitar solos went, well, I played the piano. I was decent, but being good at a few Bach fugues doesn’t pull the chicks the way Eddie’s lead on Hot for Teacher does.
I tried to make my piano skills work for me. I bought an expensive keyboard and played in a band with some kids from school. (Believe it or not, one of those kids happened to be Alan Sparhawk of Low.) But let’s face it: keyboardists just aren’t cool. They’ve never been cool and they never will be cool. Think Yanni. They’re like the rock and roll equivalent of the IT department. The better they are at what they do the more likely they are to be considered nerds.
So I decided to try my hand at guitar. I picked it up pretty quickly, thanks to my familiarity with chords and scales and all that, but I had no luck with those blistering solos I was so desperate to master. Eventually, I gave up. I didn’t stop playing guitar, and I didn’t lose my interest in music, but I did stop dreaming of rock stardom. That was over fifteen years ago.
And then, one night last fall, I had a couple buddies over for beers. We got a little drunk and I started singing along to a CD. Now, like I said, back in high school I could sing, but only about three notes. But years of singing along to the radio in the car had actually improved my range a bit. That night my buddy heard me singing and suggested I try out for his friend’s band, which was in need of a lead singer. I didn’t even have to think about it.
It’s been almost a year now since I joined that band, and although I have no illusions of potential rock stardom (or even long rock-star hair), I am singing and playing guitar at high volume at least once a week and also working on a couple self-destructive habits (tame stuff; mostly staying up late on weeknights and not wearing earplugs during practice; that kind of thing). But really, it’s not about being a rock star at this point. I’m old. I gain weight easily, and even when I was young and skinny I would have looked ridiculous in leather pants. Now it’s about playing music. Not great music, just music. I’m still not much of a singer, but I’m better at guitar than I used to be. I can’t play any brain-bending solos, but I don’t really care. For me, now it's about getting together with some friends and playing. You know? Sometimes it's nice to just be in the moment and really enjoy it. Not every ride has to be a training ride, and not every practice has to be a rehearsal. I mean, training or rehearsing when you have a an event coming up is fun, but so is just getting on the bike or strapping on the guitar or lacing up the running shoes simply because it feels good. And seriously, thank god for that, because a lot of us spend our days doing things that we don't really enjoy all that much. So here's to the things we do enjoy, whether we're stars or not.