Music Therapy

14 Jul

Many a night spacing out to the sounds of his guitar. In some ways David Gilmour and (other musicians) saved my life

Many a night spacing out to the sounds of his guitar. In some ways David Gilmour and (other musicians) saved my life

To say that music is my religion would be an understatement.
I don’t think its an accident that most of my friends are either musicians or people who absolutely love music.

Live shows, sitting around and listening to tunes, or geeking out to a new band has been one of many ways to bond with me.

I’ve turned many a lonely day into a reflective time sitting in the backyard, with my trusty 3-footer and my cd player.

Its how I got through years 19-21, trudging through the Duncanville, Texas doldrums.

I had older cousins who listened to rap music growing up, and I remember the early beginnings of L.L. Cool J, Run DMC, EAzy E, Too Short, and NWA.

I’d gotten in trouble for singing Project Hoe by Mc Shan as well as Me So horny by 2 Live Crew. Of course I didn’t know any better, it was just a song, but I could imagine how weird it was for my parents to hear their 11 year old singing “Me So Horny.” How absurd.

Music was always big in my family, my aunt was a singer and my unlce played guitar and there would always be jam sessions, either singing or dancing, but there was always music playing somewhere in someone’s house.

The first time a song really hit me on a profound level was listening to Moody Blues on my earphones as a 12 year old.
My aunt had this mix tape and Nights in White Satin was followed by Harry Nilsson’s Without You.

It was late at night, I was sleeping on the top bunk and my cousin was asleep beneath me and it was raining of course. And forever reason, both songs just seemed so real.

The imagery just stuck there, right between my ears. Disappointed lovers, letters written that were never sent.”

And though I was too young to fully grasp the depth of what these lyrics meant I could certainly feel the tone of the music settle within my stomach.

On some level I understood and would truly realize the significance of these stories as my own heartbreaks would ensue over the years, some real, others imagined, all legitimate tools for learning those lessons on love.

For the next couple of years I’d develop a fascination with the classics, and oldies, especially soft rock from the 70’s and 80’s.

Carly Simon’s “Coming around Again” was a favorite, Gordon LightFoot’s “If you could read my mind” Spandeau Ballet was also a personal fave, can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to and rewound that one.

So when all the hip and cool kids were listening to grunge rock, I was jamming out to the oldies, falling asleep to “Mandy” on the radio.

Around 13 or 14 I started branching out, my neighbors were these 19-20 year old guys who were always playing pool and drinking beer (and smoking pot but I didn’t know that back then).

It was over their house that I’d first heard “Black” by Pearl Jam, around this time was the first time I’d heard Creep and Fade into You by Mazzy Star. Achtung Baby was a pretty popular album then, but it would take me a couple of more years before i’d really sink my teeth into U2 even though “One” was a really great tune.

By the time I had graduated high school, my two favorite bands were Radiohead and U2. I’d spend my weekends listening to them on the stereo, biding my time, since I couldn’t go anywhere because of my grades.

School was my social outlet and my only escape from my home life. Otherwise I was sequestered in my room, listening to High and Dry, or Zooropa, or Achtung Baby.

To show you how square I was, when I got my own apartment with my buddy from high school,
I really thought that buying some Barry White, Frank Sinatra, and Al Green would succeed in getting me laid.

I’d failed to realized that you had to get them to the place first. It never worked out and I’d spend my evenings off from Red Lobster, listening to OK Computer and drinking Boone’s Farm, sulking through “Exit Music for a film”.

My life changed though when I realized the magical powers of pot. I’d just bought the Led Zeppelin boxed set and gotten high off my fish bong I’d made from a margarita glass.

Sitting in the back yard at my aunt’s house I had a few puffs and then had to lay down. The room started spinning as “Whole Lotta Love” got really trippy…..it was all over after that.

My descent into madness began here. Then came the psychedelic period of Pink Floyd and LSD experiments. My aunt knew I was a stoner so she never really suspected just how high I was, although she joked one time when I was listening to the Doors, that I must have progressed to other forms of drug use.

Little did she know how dead on she was. Atliens was always in the rotation then, and I could really relate to Andre’s lyrics about not living up to expectations, being on bended knee not having time to say Amen, before monkey wrenches were thrown, and monster trucks running over my picket fences.

I was a 20 year old carpet cleaner in Duncanville, Texas then i was a 20 year old parking lot attendant at the local race track, taking acid and listening to tunes on the radio at work.

Something had to give. So I got back in school, and transferred to a university, not knowing that I was going to one of the best music schools in the country.

That summer was the first I’d been exposed to some real jazz. A friend who worked at this record store gave me a copy of Jon Coltrane playing “Greensleeves” and I put on th headphones and watched the cars drive up and down the street. It just made sense.

So at UNT I befriended the jazzers, went to shows, and senior recitals,went on road trips to see shows and it was all gravy. Jazz changed the whole scope of my listening skills. I started listening to the overall landscape of pop songs, its textures and arrangements, and looked at the composition of it, rather than just a song with bass, drum, guitar, and vocals……..

best of all, music has always been my companion. For every break up I had, Neil Young, Jerry Garcia, or Thom Yorke have been there to assuage my feelings and hit those notes of pain residing in my gut.
Zuma, Disintegration, even Lift Your Skinny Fists in the Sky, proved to be awesome break up albums.
Getting me through those dark periods in my mid twenties.

When my grandma died, I listened to Old Laughing lady like nobody’s business. It really got me through, that and Flaming Lips, Soft Bulletin.

My old roommate used to joke that it was easy to tell whether he should come in my room or not based on what i was listening to. If I was jamming Neil Young (acoustic) i was better left alone.

Now a days I’ll just listen to something light whenever I feel blue. My Favorite Things is a good healing song (Coltrane’s version), Satie’s Gymnopedies, or even the Floyd’s Green is the Colour

Sometimes all it takes is doing yoga to Do Make Say Think’s And YET ANd YEt, or Grateful Dead’s Candyman, or He’s Gone, and don’t sleep on Brian Eno either, he’s got some very good etheral music that if you lie down and listen, certain parts of your body will feel less toxic.

My friend is a music therapist and I hope we can come to the day where all we have to do to deal with a mild case of depression is prescribe a joint and a copy of Neil Young’s On the Beach.

I’ve certainly played Junior Psychologist with myself by making Psychology my minor, but if it hadn’t been for drugs, and music, I can honestly say I wouldn’t have lived to write these very blogs today.
I’m amazed that I survived. through music I was alone, but never quite lonely.

But imagine a man coming in, feeling castrated by his overbearing wife, and job, and the good doctor says, I’m going to prescribe a gram of this Tazmanian Thunderfuck. and Mr. Finkelstein, it seems like you need some David Gilmour in your life.”

Then after a week of listening to these epic mind bending guitar solos by Gilmour and the Floyd, Mr. Finkelstein feels refreshed and ready to face the world again. And we’d all be better off for it.

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One Response to “Music Therapy”

  1. Janis July 14, 2009 at 2:33 pm #

    Great post my friend.
    how bout a shout out to Roy Orbitson, so many heartbreaks that one.

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