Music: How I Survived
My counselor said two things to me that gave me great pause: 1) Mine is the worst case of abuse she ever had in her office, and 2) She does not know how I get out of bed everyday.
The answer to #2 is music.
I was drawn to music very early on. The first time I became captivated by a song was when I was 9. It was “The Logical Song” by Supertramp that did it. We were on winter break from school and I was in daycare at my school. One of the teachers had Breakfast in America playing on a school turntable and the Logical Song had just come on. I stopped in my tracks and became catatonic. I was lost in the soundscapes. I was transported from my world to a world of beauty. I was freed from earth’s gravity and floating among the heavens. This moment changed my life and began a lifelong obsession with music.
To the chagrin of my mother, I bought a stereo when I was 11 or 12 with Christmas money. For awhile, my brother and I were forbidden from listening to anything but Christian music. All our LP’s were confiscated and given away. I complied, for awhile. My brother, however, hid LP’s in various places around our apartment. Slowly, my brother began introducing some of those LP’s to me. I immediately connected with many of these artists, and found myself back in the transcendence I first felt when I was 9. Music became my drug. I could not get enough.
With the creation of cassette tapes and the Walkman, recorded music became portable (beyond just the radio). I had long daily rides on the city-bus to and from school, and could lose myself in the music. I could have welts up and down my back, but the music took me away from my daily existence. There was nothing my mother could dish to me that the music could not carry away. I found solace, understanding, and a constant friend.
When I was 14, I began playing music too. This also was against my mother’s wishes. She told my brother and I (also a musician at this point) that all musicians were druggies and she would not have anything to do with us being musicians. She lost that battle. We both still play.
Very soon after I began playing, I began writing songs. Eventually, the writing process became a drug too. I would start playing around on a guitar, and a song melody would pop into my head. Then my head would fill up with song, like an angel placed it there just from my pleasure. I would then try to translate it to the instrument. If I could do it, I would have earthly transcendence…as if I poked a hole in the lining of heaven and a beam of eternity fell upon my head. It is more beauty that I can handle or describe.
When the song will not come, it is agony. I can only equate it to a junky that cannot find a fix.
Over the years, I have tried to describe this yin and yang of my personal relationship with music to people only to be treated to strange looks and/or scoffing. “You’re making this up, right? This shit doesn’t happen to you!” But it does. And it saved my life.
You see, there was no beauty in my life. Nothing to look forward to. No good feelings. No encouragement. Just horror upon horror, year after year. Then, music came into my life. I read every album cover and insert until I developed an almost encyclopedic knowledge of rock and roll. These musicians were my gods, for the God of the christian church either did not exist or had abandoned me. Music was and is my higher power.