True confessions? I prefer to write a blog with a gin and tonic at my elbow. It makes me feel like Henry Miller or William S. Burroughs. If they drank when they wrote, I know it would be whiskey, but a girl can dream. I like feeling like them — kinda bad ass-ish, kinda grizzled… if only I smoked…
I once tried to write a paper on how people create music. This was for a psych class called Phenomenology. No amount of gin could have made that paper successful. See, in Psychology, the whole point of Phenomenology is the study of internal, subjective experience. So, I put myself on the hook to explain the process of music creation.
I quit violin class in 7th grade after two years because I couldn’t read the music for “Camptown Races,” for crying out loud. And there I was, reading a memoir called Ways of the Hand about a guy who decides he’s going to learn to play improvisational jazz piano. I didn’t even remember what a scale was, and I was years away from buying my first jazz record, and I set myself the task of gaining deep insights into a guy’s internal experience of learning to create music on the fly.
Sure, I understood that he was frustrated at the beginning of his learning process, but that’s about it. I read and re-read and re-read page after page. I had no idea what the book was about, I couldn’t understand the music terms and I couldn’t hear the music in my head. I was frustrated.
Music meant so much to me and I wanted to understand the secret of its creation, but it ended up being impossible. After a month of struggling and mourning a little, I changed the topic of my paper, deciding to share and explain for others the experience of something I knew intimately. Sure, I was sad and disappointed for awhile. I was no more enlightened about creating music than I had been at the beginning of the quarter.
But, in the end, I learned something really important. I realized that the joy and heartache and exquisite longing I feel when I listen to music is super, super satisfying, in and of itself. At the time, I tried to convince myself that it was enough. Twenty years later, I get home from work, fix myself a drink, put on a Miles Davis record from my jazz collection, and know that it is plenty.
During membership drives, when I have almost nothing left in me and my emotions are close to the surface, I become teary-eyed easily when others write in expressing similar sentiments. I’m so thankful for the people in this KEXP Community who are not shy about sharing their feelings for music, and I’m especially thankful for the people who give philanthropically to make everything possible.