This Thing Called Music 

I wanted to write today for a few reasons. First, I feel like I have some things that I want and need to talk about, as I've been struggling personally lately. I understand that I'm not alone in the struggle, and I also understand that I have played a role in the struggle. But regardless, I'll save that for counseling. That does segue into my second reason for writing, though, which is this: this thing called music has been instrumental (pun intended, I suppose) lately in helping me process through things. As I have said in the past, that's the main reason I started writing songs in the first place - to process emotions. The first two songs I ever wrote -- and I can't remember which order I wrote them in -- were about my first divorce and my grandfather passing away years before.

Along the way, I've written love songs, angry songs, songs about heartbreak, songs about my sons, songs about God, and a few fictional story songs covering the same topics. I'm not bringing this up to brag, although I am proud of the songs I've written, even if I've abandoned many of them. I'm bringing this up because I sometimes wonder how I would have ever processed those things if I wasn't able to write about them in songs. Although, some would maybe argue that I haven't processed enough. To which I would respond, I'm trying. Actually... I know for a fact that I probably wouldn't be alive anymore if it wasn't for music. Because I know that it saved my life on at least two different occasions. And I think many of us have a similar story. We have all had experiences where we're going through what's probably the hardest time in our life, and some random song - or perhaps not so random - finds a way into our heart and saves us.

Even just talking about music recently has been helpful. In conversations with friends, we've discussed the first singles we ever bought. If you're younger than 30, you might not understand that reference. And that's okay. We've talked about when MTV used to play music videos, and what we liked to watch. And we've also talked about when we remember music starting to mean something to us. The conversations have been wonderful.

So, what is the point of all of this? I'm not sure, actually... I got like two hours of sleep last night and see a small green man sitting next to me! Just kidding... about the green man part, anyway. I guess maybe it's this: As I look back on my life, I have been continuously blessed by music. Even in the darkest, saddest moments -- some of them coming recently -- music has helped lift my spirits or release some of the weight that comes with those burdens.

At the same time, music can be used to hurt. Lyrics can cut like a knife, just like our regular words in interpersonal conversation. I know because I've been on both the giving and receiving end of hurtful lyrics and words. And I'm working hard to not use either my conversations or songs as weapons. I've failed many times, including recently. Because, it often seems like the easy thing to do and the wrong thing to do are the same things.

Still, most of my experiences with music have been extremely blessed. And so, I am thankful.

I want to close this out by sharing with you one of my first memories of music hitting me in a way that made me say, "Yeah... that makes me feel good!" I believe I was in fifth grade at Southside Elementary School in Sparta, Wisconsin. That means that I was probably 11-years-old. The movie "La Bamba" had just came out on video. And at the same time, my family started getting cassette tapes from Time Life, and the first one included hits from the 1950s. On the tape were songs like "Oh Boy" by Buddy Holly, "Lonely Teardrops" by Jackie Wilson and "Summertime Blues" by Eddie Cochran. My good friend David Day and I both loved singing, and we both loved the songs. And so, on one particular "Show and Tell Day" at school, David and I did a lip sync performance to what I believe was "Oh Boy." I think it was sometime after that when the "Rockin' Rebel Rousers" came about, but that's a story for a different day...

So again, the point of this writing is this: There are not enough words to describe how important music has been in my life. It has been a blessing that I am eternally grateful for, and I feel extremely fortunate to have this outlet. Thank you, Music. I love you.


Thumbs Up, Let's Do This 

Over the past year or so, I've realized something -- I can't live without writing, singing and performing music. I can't. I've tried to in the past, due to feelings of guilt or fear or trying to find all of my happiness in one basket. But as I'm thinking about my 40th birthday coming up in December, I realize that this is something I need to do for myself.

It's why I started writing in the first place. I've never been great at expressing my emotions. Part of that comes from being a guy, I believe, and part of that comes from not having practiced it throughout my life. For the past year and a half, I've been working on that part of me -- expressing how I truly feel. But before that, and even now, the best outlet I've had is in writing songs.

I was at at bar this past summer, watching an open jam, when the jam leader took a break and sat down by me. I asked him how he was doing, and he said he was okay. I asked him if he writes much, and he said no. He went on to say, "I wish I could write something that people liked, but I'm not sure anyone would listen to my songs." Now, while I understand that sentiment, I told him that I don't write for other people. I write for me. I have to write to survive. It's been the truest way for me to process everything that has happened in my life with regard to pain, brokenness, love, triumph, the Divine, and so on... For whatever reason, this bug has been planted in me, and I'm blessed to have this in my life.

To all those who have offered encouragement over the years, I want to say thank you. And to all those who have been broken, to those who have seen the rain and the sun, to those who know what it means to be human, I hope that this music brings you something to listen to as you travel this journey called life. If it's not my music, then I hope you find your song, whatever that may be.

Take care, and I hope to see you on the road...