Now, this is a guy who from the age of 3 owned a casette player (ask your parents), rifled through his parent’s LPs (again, ask your parents) and bashed away on a dodgy old acoustic guitar every hour of every day. Music was in my blood. Certain songs were like bookmarks in my life. If I heard a certain tune it would help me re-live a moment from my past, would transport me to a place and time or would dig up some old emotions. Music was my mistress, my passion and she was a good mistress. I feel that music enriched my life and was in some cases the glue that bound me to other people – a shared love of music was the basis for my teenage friendships, which coincidentally have lasted the ravages of time and survive to this day.But one day I put on a CD and had to turn it off straight away. Listening to music hurt my head. And as for playing it! That was even worse. At times the fatigue was so bad that I couldn’t even pick up my guitar, let alone play it. For two years I struggled with my mistress. She was cruel to me and wouldn’t soothe me the way she used to. Elvis’s voice would jar in my ears. Duke Ellington would sound like a train hammering through my head. Even good old Eric Clapton’s guitar screamed inside my skull. Eventually I gave up and stopped trying to please my mistress. I stopped playing guitar, stopped singing and stopped listening to music. The only musical sound I heard was the beep of the supermarket checkout. Music and I had officially divorced. We had to go our separate ways.
So for six months I forgot about the cotchets, the quavers, the power chords, the pizzicato and the scat. I had said goodbye to dub, reggae, grunge, rockabilly, waltzes and arias. My head was calm, but deep within me was a growing void. I was living a life without music, and to be honest, life was looking pretty grey. But at least I was feeling well.
Then, one day, a day that is really clear in my mind I found an old CD copy of the Bluesbreakers album. You know, the Beano album. The one that Eric Clapton made with John Mayall, Hughie Flint and John McVie in 1966. And so, being in a reasonably good mood, feeling less ill than I had I slid it gently into the CD player, turned the volume down and pressed play. I held my breath slightly as the CD sped up, whizzing into a hiss as the laser scanned the disk; and then it happened.
It just happened. Like the sweetest kiss from a long lost lover. Clapton’s guitar belting out the intro to “All Your Love”, the old Willy Dixon/Otis Rush song just washed over me. And it was bliss! Shivers raced up and down my spine. My head was full of colours, shapes and words as Clapton’s playing began to fill me up with emotion. I was shaking with emotion as the sounds, the vibrato and the rhythm got inside me. I closed my eyes and let that wonderous sound wash over me. Clapton pouring out his emotion through his guitar, poured into me and filled me up. Yes, I shed a tear, I’m not ashamed to say, but they were tears of joy. My lover had come back and was being as tender and as loving as she always used to be. And somehow, having lost her, her return was all the more special and the effect she had on me was even more profound than before. That day I played that track over and over and over. It felt good. No, that’s rubbish…it felt right, as if someone had finally replaced something vital that had gone missing.
And I am pleased to say that she’s never left me since. My ME has gone totally. Even in times of great stress my music is there to console me, make me strong and help me through. She’s also there to join me in times of celebration. Whilst music isn’t my life, I know she will always be there for me and as I prepare for my wedding next year I know music’s going to be a big part of the day.
To all those amazing people that put pen to paper, finger to key, foot to pedal and pick to string and create this powerful force that we call songs I slaute you and thank you. From the bottom of my soul, without your work and dedication my life would be less. Keep rocking, keep writing and keep performing. What you do makes the lives of people like me even better.
And for those of you with a talent, don’t keep it for yourselves. Share it. You never know, you just might touch someone deep inside.