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by Pril Stevenson
You hear that bandied around a lot when people talk about relationships. Mostly relationships with boyfriends/girlfriends/husbands/wives, or even the best friend you’ve had since like 3rd grade. You hit it off instantly, and you stay good friends, and even after you haven’t seen or heard from them in ten years, you can call them and be best friends all over again.
I know it in the context of that band I always talk about. It was really my first “official” band. And we were all friends of a sort or another. But it was the kind of thing that, from the first time we jammed together, we knew we had a good thing. We stopped, looked at each other, and went “Hot damn! Baby I need a cigarette!”.
I was some kind of glue, I guess, as far as the music went in the band. So i have been told, at least. I just played. Once in awhile, I would look over at Djeef or the Kook, with a “That was sweet” nod and smile, but I just never felt I needed to see what either of them was doing. I knew it. Whatever “IT” is, it lived in my head. It still lives there, but it doesn’t get the exercise it needs. Djeef and I would drop into counterpoint rhythms for no special reason, and Kook was right there laying something awesome on top of it. Tam would hop off the stage with the tip jar and go belly-dancing across the floor. We just did it.
With some people I jam with, damn it is some hard work. I just want to scream at them, “why do you make this so fucking hard?!”. Instead of the feeling of fluidity, you’re slogging through Oklahoma mud in Vans slip-ons just trying to get to the end of a song with these people. This is not the property of beginning players. I’ve jammed with people who’ve been playing for 40 years and it feels like this. The ones who perpetrate it the most seem to be the ones who think they’re the center of attention, and nothing else in the music matters except what they’re playing.
Let me just stop and say to anyone who thinks like this about their playing (and I am talking to guitar players mostly, here, but they certainly don’t have the monopoly on aural masturbation)- You suck. Your attitude sucks. Your playing sucks. Your tone is awful. No one likes you. You need to turn down, down, down yeah there… I know you can’t hear yourself and frankly that’s the whole idea, because none of us want to hear you, either.
I really hate feeling like that about other people who play music. I mentally beat myself when I catch myself thinking things like that, because music is supposed to self-expression, and fun, and a time to get up and get down wit yo bad self and all. But there’s a line, i think, between sharing your joy with the world and playing to hear yourself play, damn everyone else.
I wandered away again. That happens. It does sort of tie in with the chemistry between musicians, though. When four people can sit down and sort of muddle for 5 minutes, trying to figure out what to play, then all the sudden (without discussion) they all start on the right count, with the right notes, and blast out a song, that’s fucking incredible and when you find the other people that you can do that with, you hold them close and jealously guard that relationship. Woe to he or she that dares to try to steal it away. To lose it means all the work of finding it all over again, or struggling along with tweezing it out of someone else who may or may not ever GET IT.
One of these days I think I’ll discuss the ones who do try to get in the way of that chemistry. Band girlfriends/boyfriends. Because sometimes, the music is #1 and you have to settle for coming in a distant second if you want to be with a musician. You either understand that and work with it, or you don’t and find yourself angry and hurt all the time. Some musicians are balanced, relatively normal people. Some are completely off their noggins, in a fucking scary way. There doesn’t seem to be any kind of in-between, that I’ve experienced.
Pril loves everyone she has ever jammed with because she knows deep down, the are nice people..sometimes