Saturday, June 11, 2011

Where the Music Takes Me

Where the music takes me is just about any place these days but it hasn't always been that way.  Now I write about life in my songs and the hatred or kindness people show me gets woven like a thread into through the lyrics.  The experiences I have, the things I hear and see, all have their place, a bit like a blog really.  Without that life experience, I suspect that there would be no songwriting.  But songwriting isn't just about the lyrics, it's also about the melody.  Words can convey so much but melody can carry something else, abstract emotions, things you feel but can't verbalize.  Back as a mixed up transgendered teen, music was my escape from life into a world where I could be a guitarist with no ending on the word to show what gender I was.  Constantly picking or strumming my guitar alone in my room, changing the chords and notes to suit my changing mood was just about the only way I could cope with the constant bullying at school, the anxiety and health issues that went with it.

I have to thank others for that musical ability.  I can see myself sitting on the arm of a lounge chair in my grandparents parlour, my grandfather strumming banjo and my grandma playing piano.  By then she played purely by memory but it was all quite literally under her seat!  Grandma's piano stool had a lid and underneath it all of her sheet music.  Occasionally I was allowed to delve in there, into a goldmine and Aladdin's cave of 1930's and 40's Broadway melodies.  I knew the songs by heart having heard them played so often in our family music making, but there they all were, the material of Harry Warren and the fabulous lyrics of Al Dubin, the songs from Golddiggers of 1933 and 42nd street.  I could dream and imagine myself on stage in a show.  I could forget for a moment the horrors of a chool that was only a couple of miles away.

Aged 11, I learned my skills as a rhythym player, strumming or picking along to 'We're in the Money' or 'Shuffle off to Buffalo', a strange beginning for a transgendered boy whose idols were Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez.  Physically, music has taken me since to a lot of strange and sometime beautiful places, but mainly coffee houses and clubs with smoke filled atmospheres and less the ideal sound systems!  It's nice that music has the capacity to take us other places even if it's (only) in the mind.

Where does your music take you?

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