Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. –Berthold Auerbach
Last week was not particularly noteworthy. Nothing exceptional happened to me. I worked too few hours, spent too much time alone and did not do anything that really qualifies as remarkable.
I am prefacing this post with the admission that I am not a “music person.” A music person knows all about the up and coming artists, rattling off names and bands that most people won’t hear of for months. They actually spend money on music, make playlists on their iPods, and go to concerts. I’ve always been a movie or tv person. I’m becoming more of a music person, but if I am at home, the tv will be on as white noise long before music. In my own defense, it is rare that music is not an integral part of film or television, and I can’t live without a radio or cd in my car. However, I would never claim the title of “music person.”
Now, despite my lackluster week, I was a part of something special involving music. A friend of mine, Trent, is an incredibly talented musician (check him out at www.myspace.com/trent.hancock !). Essentially a human jukebox, he can play almost anything on the guitar and sing right along, as well as write his own music. As someone with no musical talent and only a few failed singing lessons in my past, I have high respect for the dedication and talent involved in creating music. I appreciate the passion involved in playing and the world that is created with notes and chords.
Trent plays at different places around the city all week and, as he is moving on to bigger things and places, last week was a lot of lasts for him. I joined a couple of friends at a small dive bar for one of his farewells after a difficult day at work. I hesitated going, considering how comfortable my pajamas looked and preferring solitude, but went out. I had spent the day over-analyzing something a friend had said, which is not a new thing for me. I had thought myself down, let something small upset me, and was ready to just hide away in my self-pity. However, in a rare move, I decided to be social and go out despite my blue mood. It was one of the best choices I’ve made in a long time.
As I walked into the packed bar, I regretted my choice. I’m not a huge drinker and not especially outgoing, so a room full of drunk strangers was not inviting in my sobriety. I sat down as he began to play and talked with my friend a bit, but it was too loud to really have a conversation. As he continued to play, something interesting happened. The crowd was amazing and a mixture of people who love him and were there to see a friend and those who had heard him play and love his music. It was such a welcoming, enthusiastic room, filled with people who simply wanted to celebrate someone they had come to call friend. And then everyone began to sing along.
Plenty of people were singing from the beginning, but once everyone else was going, my self-consciousness eased and I joined too. For an introvert, it was an amazing moment. As sad and introspective as I was feeling, I completely lost myself in people and music. As much as I wanted to be alone, I loved being wedged in between strangers. The singing drowned the insecurities in my head and all of my thoughts disappeared. It was the most wonderful feeling to simply lose myself in something bigger than my mind. This is not the first time that this has happened, and I’m really not the hermit I seem, but it was such an awesome feeling. My words do not do jutice to the freedom I felt that night. It was so nice, in a world of twitter and facebook and (yes, I see the irony) blogs, to be in such a physical, visceral place. Every last sense was stimulated and involved and set free the moment I let myself stop being so internal.
It was a fantastic send-off for Trent. I hope he enjoyed himself, because if he had half as much fun as the rest of us, it was a successful night. For someone who will probably never be a “music person,” it was a moment of clarity of what it is that makes music people.
“And the manager gives me a smile/ ‘Cause he knows that it’s me they’ve been coming to see/ To forget about life for a while” –Billy Joel