City of Roses
-----------Sunday, September 7, 2003---------
How Mistletoe Angel Got His Groove Back (Or Found It For The First Time)
Jimi Hendrix, rock and roll's greatest legend, once said, "Music doesn't lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music."
Truly, I used to not believe that. Like I mentioned in my last entry, I was ultra-sensitive to sounds and lights in the movie theatre as a child. The exact same thing happened to me when I listened to the music my dad played (which I now love so much). Bruce Cockburn, Jackson Browne, Peter Gabriel, The Who, R.E.M, Bruce Springsteen; those are all the artists he has worshipped all his life. But before I turned 11, I always failed to understand what they were saying. I heard no melody, no rhythm, no cadence, just a bunch of noise pollution. I couldn't remember any artists names or couldn't sing along to any songs except Christmas jingles. My world was nothing but amplified serenity.
Then, when I turned 11, I finally heard something that deeply touched my heart. That early 1995, when Counting Crows were just beginning to emerge as a famous rock and roll outfit, my dad put "August And Everything After" into his CD player of his car as we were driving east down Interstate 70 to Missouri to see our grandparents. Hearing the first track off the album, the hit "Round Here" literally made me cry, because the main riff had beauty to it I can hear and interpret. Then you hear Adam Duritz's heartfelt vocals, and from the start I knew I well esembled the character in his song. As time went on, that song only is of greater importance to me and then I saw an article all about the song that made me cry, which Adam Duritz explains:
"This guy has heard all those life lessons that you're given when you're a child about what you should do to be a good adult and carve out your name in society -- all those cliches. He's an adult now and has the rights to do the things that 10-year-olds aren't allowed to do -- but so what, it's nothing. Everything has such consequences for him, he can't touch anything or anyone, he's terrified. By the end of the song, he's so completely lost; he's become more of a ghost than a person, and he's taking other people down with him. When you are a kid, people are always telling you to wait and they are always sending you to bed early. Round Here is a song about someone facing a life that doesn't seem to be the logical end product of all the things that he thought were leading up to it. For a list of these cliches of childhood, see every line of every chorus. In that last chorus he is saying I got all the things I wanted when I grew up(e.g. not having to wait for anything, staying up late) and it doesn't seem to mean anything("i can't see nothing round here")."
Realizing that I was stuck inside this electric serenity, I became an apostle of Counting Crows. "Round Here" wasn't the only song that I felt deeply related to me, but also "A Murder Of One"
I can remember being eight years old and having infinite possibilities. But life ends up being so much less that we thought it would be when we were kids, with relationships that are so empty and stupid and brutal. If you don't find a way to break the chain and change in some way, then you wind up, as the rhyme goes: a murder of one, for sorrow.
From the first time I heard the song, then heard him more and more urgently say "You don't waste your life, baby!" and "CHANGE, CHANGE, CHANGE!" kept making the tears come out stronger and stronger each higher pitch he made with his empathetic vocals. If God is my greatest hero and Mr. Ernewein my second, Counting Crows would be my third biggest hero. Adam Duritz is like a psychiatrist in a poets heart, his words don't only make you amazed, but also heal. In addition, he shares the same anguish and tears I did, so he's like my bigger brother. I would eventually get to pay homage to the band in 2000 and see the at the Fillmore Auditorium with Live, another band I have huge respect for, and Bettie Servert.
So the first phase of my transformation to the music was complete. Still, I had no clue what music was, why we need it, how it is born. But at least I knew there was something about music that made me feel good, and truly I didn't know what that was until I was 15 and met Mr. Ernewein, my hero.
If you ever wanted to have a joyous conversation about any kind of music, Mr. Ernewein is the guy to want to meet. He is also a hippy at heart: while many schools are sadly trying to take away music programs due to the lack of appropriate funding, he will always rise and see to it Denver Academy has their music program. In addition, he centers music along many of his lectures. He has his own tradition known as "Music Of The Week", where he would select an artist, play clips from their songs during class, and make connections between the artist to English, literature, math, and social science. He even let students contribute considerations for Music Of The Week (I got him fascinated with Counting Crows and went to the concert with him), just never give him boy band music, Britney Spears, or Linkin Park or he'll throw them out the window, LOL!)
It was Mr. Ernewein himself that got me agglutinated with the beautiful, capricious, and diverse world of music in its entirety. I got hooked on the Dave Matthews Band from the start, after he told me the real-life story of him meeting Dave in person in Richmond, Virginia. matchbox twenty and Goo-Goo Dolls became a favorite of mine, as did all of my dad's favorite artists. Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, and Led Zeppelin especially became high-rotation artists in my jukebox. I would bellow out lyrics in the shower, on my way home, and while running in cross-country territory. So much fun!
Mr. Ernewein convinced me that music is life. In fact, when I graduated as valedictorian of Denver Academy with a 3.98 grade-point average, I included the chorus lyric from Shakira's "Underneath Your Clothes" in my speech in a spiritual context, declaring to the whole assembly that we all have a story to tell deep down, and it has only begun. Headmaster Jim Loan shook my hnd in person and said my speech was his favorite speech he heard in his many years at the Academy, and that to me is a milestone of my life, not only because I became a highly successful student coming out of great adversity, but that to me was a titan leap from all the social isolation I experienced before. I got this far because I got my groove back, I found my melody, my metronome, to walk the walk and talk the talk to. I saw my mom crying from the stage, in tears of joy, and that made me cry too because all I wanted to do was make her happy and proud and I felt I accomplished that goal.
Aware of this metamorphosis I was in, this rock and roll revolution baptized upon my heart and spirit, I felt I must contribute too. And the one artist that encouraged me to do so was Shakira.
Shakira said, "I'm wondering, where did they all go? The leaders who used to talk about love, like Gandhi and Martin Luther King? The ones who would show us alternatives." That immediately made me think about all the other music out there, expressing deep anguish, sorrow, and faithlessness, and I already fell deeply in love with Shakira and her music from the first time I heard "Whenever, Wherever". That song made me smile...so much harmony and so much grace, and seeing her sexy music video only deeply touched me more, seeing her sway her hips on the beach, the desert sands, the mountains, pure spiritual seduction. I immediately purchased "Laundry Service" and off the first listen I knew "Underneath Your Clothes" would also be a big hit, and it did. "Que Me Quedes Tu" makes me cry every time I listen to it too. Her grace, her charisma, her loving spirit inspired me to start my own songwriting; to contribute my love to the world, and that is what I am doing as we speak. Writing feel-good songs that sound like they were co-written by God Himself, that make everyone smile, cry, hold each others hand, make people hug each other, and simply to believe and feel.
So when I was 18, I picked up my first guitar and have been hooked to it ever since. I spend many afternoons up on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder strumming some covers and a few songs I wrote by improvization myself, using some of the earliest chords my guitar teacher taught me, or at the Glen Huntington Bandshell, a beautiful small amphi-theatre where the Colorado Shakespeare Festival hosts some performances every summer.
Aldous Huxley said "After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." I believe that with all my heart, and I also believe expressing yourself in silence is not rewarding at all, so get yourself lost in the music. Get jiggy with Eminem, sing with me now, 1, 2, 3:
"You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo"
Yay, now you're pimpin' shrimpin! LOL!
"Look, if you had one shot to seize everything you ever wanted, one moment,
would you capture it or just let it slip?" Marshall Mathers certainly captured it. You never know if you'll succeed or fail unless you try, so get out there and rock on! And remember...
"Music doesn't lie.
If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music."
- Jimi Hendrix
Keep rocking the suburbs, set your guitars on fire, and pedal that whammy bar to the metal everyone!
I don't need no proof when it comes to God and truth
I can see the sun set and I perceive
[This message has been edited by Mistletoe Angel (09-07-2003 05:44 PM).]