Wednesday was rough.
I went to bed election night late. In total disbelief. Dizzy and stunned. But I found my bed. I woke up the next morning early to walk my blissfully unaware dog, Blue. Tail wagging and all. We took our normal morning jaunt around the neighborhood. Midway through the walk as it hit me that it was not just a bad dream, I broke down. Blue comforted me. A bit later I went to Starbucks and again lost it in line. I had to step out.
I didn’t think that this loss would affect me so deeply. Maybe it’s my patriotism. My love of country. And my fear that we’re moving into very dark times that I wasn’t emotionally ready to accept.
So, whenever I’m in a dark place, I usually turn to music to pull me out. I pulled my guitar out and wrote a song and Facebook Live’d it moments after I finished.
Once it was out, I actually felt renewed. Calmer. Collected. I created something positive out of something so upsetting.
I stayed off of CNN, political podcasts, Facebook and all news sites. I wasn’t ready for explanations, justifications or repudiations.
I needed real connection. Real inspiration. Real humanity. Real love.
I went to my home away from, the Hotel Cafe to see one of the stand out acts I discovered at Bonnaroo this past Summer, Lawrence. They are a brother/sister fronted, horn heavy, funk/soul group. The band is noticeably young. 19-25 year olds or so. 19 year old Gracie took the stage wearing a “Nasty Woman” T, while brother Clyde and the rest of the group wore a discombobulated hodgepodge of jerseys, graphic Ts and flat rimmed hats. They don’t have ‘the look’ (yet), but by god they have the sound.
The capacity crowd in the main room at the Hotel Cafe was a mix of Lawrence super-fans and industry heads. I got up close to join the dance party. The mix was on point. Louder than normal for a Hotel Cafe show, but not overbearing and their (hired) FOH had everything dialed in just perfectly. The band was incredibly tight. The horns ala Earth Wind and Fire and Tower of Power punctuated Clyde and Gracie’s soulful voices. The musicianship stood out all around. Clyde flew up and down his keys with the chops of a man who has fully digested the greats. The guitarist had the touch and phrasing of John Mayer, the speed and freedom of Trey Anastasio and the foundation of Nile Rodgers. The bassist held down the groove but opened up when it was his turn to shine.
For 45 minutes, no one was a democrat, republican, man, woman, immigrant, Muslim, Jew, Christian, black, brown, white, angry or afraid. Everyone was one with each other and with Lawrence.
Lawrence brought some semblance of joy back to what was a day of despair. The music brought everyone together. The music was the escape everyone desperately needed. The music was the hope and the love. The comfort and relief.
That’s the thing. When times get tough, when hope seems lost, music’s got our back.
As musicians, we have the power to heal. And people look to music for comfort and solace.
Instead of turning to hate and fear, we can turn to love. That’s the path Lawrence decided to take and I love them for it.
We’re about to enter an incredible era for music once again. We don’t know what kind of music will be made, but we know that some of the greatest music ever made will come from this. Sometimes it takes tectonic shifts of society and culture to jolt us out of complacency and mediocrity.
True artists don’t chase fame, they bring truth. True artists don’t do it for the money, they do it because they have to. True artists feel pain deeply and then channel that pain into beauty.
It’s so important, as an artist, for you to take what you feel, when you feel it, and capture it. Don’t rant on Facebook, rant in the vocal booth. Don’t hate tweet, hate shred.
Wednesday I took the day to feel the pain and pour it out the best way I know how. Through music. I told my two (musician) interns to take the day off from the work we were doing and spend the day making music. They both created really incredible songs that day and posted them moments after they completed them. I highly encourage you to experience their work:
Don’t forget that you have an incredible gift.
You aren’t a musician to make yourself rich. You’re a musician to bring people joy, comfort, happiness and solace. It’s not about you. It’s about the music. It’s about truth.
What truth will you speak? How will you take what you’re feeling right now and turn it into something beautiful? Because, in the end, that’s what really matters when the dust settles.
Photo by annachocolate16 from Instagram