I met a guitar picker over a year ago on a night he’ll never remember. I went out to hear my daughters band play, it was a tough crowd, a bad night and he was a guy who walked up to her after it was all over, told her not to sweat it and just gave her that “been there, done that, they’re assholes” pat on the back from a guy who really, truly has. A road dog with some miles on him lifted my daughter up that night. How could I not notice.
So what would your story look like if you knew in your heart you were born to create music? You weren’t always sure why or what purpose it was supposed to serve, you just knew the music was in your head and you had to accommodate it. Along the way it cost you plenty, yet the higher the cost, the more you knew it was the right thing; it was what you had to do.
Your story might look like this guitar picker. I caught up with him a few months later and now we're friends. I've learned he’s a country boy who didn’t fit in as a kid until his size and speed caught the attention of coaches who handed him a football; he shot up the popularity charts with a bullet, from nobody to somebody in 1000 rushed yards of a high school season. I’m pretty sure all the cheering felt great to a small-town kid after all those awkward years, even better when the recruiters started chasing him.
He hasn’t told me, but I know he was already hearing the music in his head when he went off to college on a football scholarship, because school didn’t work out. Not here, not there, not anywhere and he tried a few. He came home to his garage band, got married, had some kids and started to pay closer attention to the music he’d heard in his head all his life.
Some artists are born to create. When they’re not creating those big ol’ feelings from way back when, the ones that tell a guy he just doesn’t fit in, loom big and mean. There is no ball to throw, there are no tackles to make. It’s just you, your words and your music and the dream that one day the world will listen. So you play. You write and you sing and you play because that’s how you chase those old demons away. You make someone smile. You get them to sing along. They dance. They buy you a drink, stick a five in the jar and say “thanks, man.” You’re back on the field and the crowds are cheering again.
From the view up in the cheap seats, the benefits of making it big in the music industry are pretty compelling. There’s the money, of course. The attention. The cheering crowds. At the core, there’s the recognition that what you’ve done all your life with this gift…this passion you’ve been given…matters. To someone. To anyone. To an artist born to create, the dream of a world which embraces your art is a bright star worth chasing. That your words, that your songs….could mean something to someone, could change them, could bless them, help them, feed their souls or encourage them to be better; such are the dreams of an artist born to make music.
Along the way the roads you’ve traveled, the people you’ve met, the mistakes you’ve made….make you wiser and you start sharing little bits and pieces of yourself with younger people. Even while you’re still on your journey, you listen to their music and you pat their backs because you know what it’s like to have dreams. You know what it’s like to take your heart and soul and lay it bare in front of tonight’s audience, not knowing whether they’ll applaud you or throw beer.
Enter my daughter. Enter my friend the guitar picker. Her story is just beginning. His continues and I am pretty sure I know what he would tell her if she asked.
How many times do you pick up a pencil and write it all down? How many nights will you take your six-string girl out of the truck and court her for tips? How long does a hometown kid keep chasing a dream?
He'd tell her you keep on keeping on doing that thing you do until the lights go out and the music in your head stops.