So as I was digging through some old files on the hard drive a couple of nights ago when I stumbled across something very special. The first two recordings I ever did! They were originally done on a micro cassette recorder and sometime in college I transferred them to mp3’s when my micro cassette was about to die on me. I hadn’t listened to them in many many years so I put them on my iPod and headed off to work.
Listening to my very young (and high pitched voice) belt out horribly out of tune vocals with a really bad guitar took me back. I miss the days when there was so much raw emotion in my songs that it almost made up for the fact that I couldn’t sing or play guitar. Granted I’m not exactly a virtuoso now, and I’d like to believe that some of that raw quality has stayed with me. However, on these tapes is the sound of a flood that can’t be held back. An explosion of pain, love, and pure rage that no one can hold back. You can hear the tape itself wanting to give out, the hiss blending in with the subtle parts, and then the distortion that accompanies a scream that only a teenager could put out.
I appreciate the evolution that my songs have gone through, and I do think that the music I’m making today is the best that I’ve ever done. But there is still that part of me that wants to go back. I want to go back to the empty room, of an empty house, hunched over a little recorder and scribbling down lyrics as fast as they pour into my head. Back then I had so much to say that it became difficult to write it all down. Now, I find myself coming up with new ideas, but not a way to really get them out. Now the dam is blocking up the river, and the whole fucking town is about to flood. Back then, the dam had burst open and the valley was becoming an ocean. Hmmm, would I rather be a flooded town, or an ocean?
It’s funny how 10 minutes of horrible recordings can get you thinking. Mine got me missing the days of being in a band. I miss having someone to share the musical experience with. I miss that feeling when 4 people suddenly come together on an idea that none of them had in their heads previously. Something completely new is formed, and couldn’t have been if the 4 of them had stayed on their own. I miss heaving my body around, my limbs flailing, as I beat the living shit out of my drumkit. I miss hearing people scream when we would completely tear it up on a particular night. There used to be moments of music in that band, that when all was right, would almost make me cry. It wasn’t that it was the most beautiful or original piece of music. Far from it. It was just a feeling. It was what I imagine most people feel when they’re with their families or a big group of friends. No matter how angry we were with each other, no matter how much bullshit had gone on, the 4 of us could turn insanity into bliss and the moment it happened I would always get a smile on my face. When it happened in front of a mess of people, all the better.
So how do I get back to that? Move back to Nebraska I suppose. That won’t be happening any time in the next century, so I have to devise a new plan. I suppose the obvious one is to find 3 people here who could fill the void. Considering how many musicians I’ve played with in my life, and the fact that only 3 of them ever gave me that feeling, I tend to doubt I’ll find 3 more.
It almost seems as though my music needs Nebraska. I feel out of context here. It seemed like everyone that I collaborated with back there seemed to mesh well. The music I love comes from there. The music I make came from there. If only I didn’t hate the place so much. I guess for now, I’ll just carry on a long distance relationship between my music, and the place that gave birth to it.
I miss you Brandon, Anthony, Scott, and Adam. We’re spread across 4 states now and I’m falling apart because of it. I’d give just about anything for an hour of it back, followed by a pint of peach wheat. Sleep tight guys, and keep on stumbling forward.