When asked what I want for my birthday, I usually say nothing. I don’t want people spending money on me, and I don’t want to be greedy. But this time, with my 42nd birthday only days away, I asked the family for something specific: an acoustic-electric guitar.
I used to play guitar, though I was never very good at it. When I had a band and was writing music, I sang and wrote lyrics. I couldn’t really sing, mind you, but I could write lyrics, and that’s all that mattered. With the guitar, I’d stand in the middle of the basement in the old house in Revere and make noise — out of tune, no attention whatsoever to proper technique. I just made sounds that spoke to what I was feeling. I had an Ibanez strat model Sean Marley gave me one Christmas. Desperate for money to pay bills one year, I sold it. That remains one of the biggest regrets of my life.
So here I am, 20 years later, about to turn 42, and I want to play again. This time I want to learn how to play the instrument properly and write music that goes with the written words I hammer out daily.
There are several reasons the desire has returned. The biggest is that one day a few months ago, my therapist told me that no man should die with his music still inside of him. That line hit me more than anything he’s said to me in the last year, because unlike his suggestions that I quit coffee and do yoga every morning, something deep within me knew he was right on this one.
Though I stopped being in a band and singing in the mid-1990s, my passion for music has never abated. I write a lot about my love of metal music, but I like a lot of folk, too. That’s Erin’s influence for sure. On our wedding anniversary three years ago, we went to the Newport Folks Festival, and I walked away as a fan of the Avett Brothers, The Decemberists and Gillian Welch. It was one of those life-changing days.
I also approach the posts in this blog like songs. They’re meant to be timeless and stike an emotional chord. I put older posts on my Facebook and Twitter streams every day because to me it’s kind of like being a DJ. I’m playing a collection of songs repeatedly, like any good DJ does.
I also think making music would be another effective tool to fight my addictive behavior. If a guitar were lying around, there are many days where I’d pick it up instead of my laptop.
Call it a midlife crisis urge, if you will. To me, it’s just part of my never-ending push to become a better man than I am now.