Archive for the ‘Archived Observations’ Category

Say Something

Tuesday, January 6th, 2004

The music of Rush influences and inspires, at least that’s what it’s done for me since being introduced to their music in 1978 or so. Now, the question is, is the music that powerful, or am I just too easy to inspire? Both I guess.

When something really hits me I tend to pay attention to it, like a smack in the face. It’s tough to ignore something that’s truly eye-opeing. I pay attention to things that open my eyes, things that make me think and feel, like music. When I listen to Rush sometimes I laugh because of their comical aspects, sometimes I cry because of the impact of certain phrases or melodies, or indeed the combination thereof. I’m also often floored by the power of the music, and the sheer talent that created it.

The music of Rush can be incredibly gentle, and touching, stuff I would play for mom, unlike my old AC/DC or Ozzy Ozbourne (or Rob Zombie, who’s work I’m especially fond of these days. There’s a story for another day), though I’m sure she has heard them vibrating the walls of my room one time or another. Rush also makes great wall-rattling tunes that you just have to crank up, songs with drive and power that make you want to play dashboard drums while cruising along the highway. I’m a frequent dashboard drummer, though I can scarcely keep up with Neil Peart’s multi-dexterous skills — my gas pedal gets in the way.

Back to my initial thought…

I feel many emotions when I listen to music, whether it’s Rush, Peter Gabriel, James Taylor, Coldplay or a host of other great musicians and bands. The fact is, music inspires. A great song puts on its gloves and gives you a good one two punch.

Okay, some great songs just have a good grove, or catchy chorus, but when you’re listening to not-top-40 music like Rush, stuff that’s not at all heard on mainstream commercial radio, you’re listening to a band that’s made it as far as they have because of their influence and talent. Their fans love them because of what they say, what they play, and how they play and say it. Don’t trip there.

I’d like to comment on a recent news item regarding Alex Lifeson, guitarist for Rush, and I’ll connect it to my main theme in one way or another later.

He was arrested on New Years eve, along with his son and his son’s wife, while celebrating at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Naples, Florida. He apparently had a scuffle with the police, had his nose broken and had to be subdued with a stun gun.

Reports vary as to the actual events, but it looks like Alex had too much to drink and was being a bit rowdy. So, there we go. Am I now disillusioned? Has this burst the bubble of greatness that envelops the band in my mind? No.

I was initially shocked at the news, but not disillusioned. Musicians are people, and they’re not immune to doing stupid things, it’s just that when they do we all hear about it and the spotlight spins to illuminate their mistake. Certainly Alex has done far more good with his life than he has done bad. Especially if you count the number of lives he has positively impacted with the songs he has created with his bandmates.

I can’t imagine what my life would be like without some of these great musicians and writers. And while their music inspires greatly, we must understand that they’re still human, and humans make mistakes. Do as I say, not as I do. :)

When something hits me, I look to see what it was. How often do you feel an impact? I guess that’s why I write and record music as well, because I’d like to influence people the way I’ve been influenced, positively. I have stuff to say, do you? Say it. If we say enough good things, we won’t have to worry about what the papers say when we make a mistake, the people we’ve influenced won’t dwell on it.

I was hit by the Bob Marley song “Could you be loved” that ends with the repeated phrase “Say something… say something…say something..”

Great song. Great idea.

Neat Guys in Life – So Long Mr. Rogers

Friday, February 28th, 2003

During my drive into work yesterday (2/27/03) I was suddenly transported back in time to wonderful discoveries of my childhood. A world full of incredible people and things. A world of rich experience, delivered through that portal called television from Mister Roger’s Neighborhood.

What caused this time warp? The news I had just heard on the radio: Mister Roger’s had passed away.

Sad news, and yet another reminder that time marches on and my past is forever in the past, and growing more distant. Sometimes I like to revisit the music, movies, and books of days gone by. Just to help my inner child quiet down a bit. Mister Rogers was a strong part of my life, right along with Rags and his friends on the Patchwork Family show (no one seems to remember that one but me!), Sesame Street, the New Zoo Revue, and other great children’s shows.

I was an imaginative kid and those programs were a great escape for my brain. They influenced me in many ways.

Did you ever meet someone you could only describe as “neat”? — Like “Man, he was a really neat guy!” — I have, I’ve met neat people, and I mean really neat. I never met Mister Rogers but he was my definition of a neat person. Someone who is kind, friendly, who understands you and can show you some really cool stuff about our world!

There was a man who attended the same church as my family while I was groing up, he used to stop me outside after church and show me a magic trick. He had a new one every Sunday, and each was delivered with such wonder and joy on his part. I’ll tell you what, that man has never left my mind. I remember him fondly. And I’ll never forget the deep sadness I felt years later when I heard that he had killed himself. I wondered why such a beautiful person would want to die. What could have been so wrong in his life? And if he was so sad, why would he share only goodness and love with the rest of us?

He was one of many Mister Rogers in my life. Only his story had a sad ending. The real Mister Rogers has passed along of natural causes after a long, fullfilling life. I want to have an affect on people so that they will want to go on in life. These neat people have had that affect on me, and that’s why I look forward to a bright life of joy and experience, of wonder.

What is the key to being a neat person? Is there some deep understanding we must have about human nature? Do we need a degree? Hardly. Well, there is hardly the need for high education, but maybe human understanding is intuitive, maybe some of us are just born with some knowledge built in. An instinct of sorts, or an insight.

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I don’t buy it. I think it depends on the dog. I’m still reshaping and developing, trying to make myself the best I can be. It’s a long road, and I’m grateful for Mister Rogers, and other neat people who have influenced my life.

What does it take to be a neat guy? I’m working on it. Maybe we all can.


Time and Life, Bit by Bit

Monday, February 3rd, 2003

Looking out through my picture window yesterday (2/17/03) I felt like I was in a giant snow globe. Big, fluffy snowflakes were falling, covering everything with a nice wintery blanket. Ah, how nice. I love snow… all two feet of it in my driveway!!

Now don’t get me wrong, I really do love snow but it does take its toll — my back is a bit sore right now, and it’s getting increasingly difficult to keep my eyes open today. I’ll sleep like a rock tonight.

It could be worse, I could have totally wiped myself out by trying to shovel it all at once. We do it all the time. Sometimes we bite off more than we can chew, or grow impatient and try to rush through, or into things. We can apply this to other areas of life as well. If we rush through things we can end up suffering in the long run.

You know how I handled the snow? Bit by bit. Little by little. I went out at 7am and shoveled the first 9 inches. Then my wife and I went out two more times that day to take care of the rest. I learned this “technique” from my father. When I was younger he always had me outside clearing the driveway with him, against my best judgement at the time. We’d go out at regular intervals to “keep ahead of it” as he said. Smart. Can’t always do that. Like, I’m not going to get up in the middle of the night to stay ahead of a snow storm. Sorry, I’ll deal with it in the morning.

But how many times do we not think to keep ahead of things in our lives? I don’t know about you, but I do it all the time. I want things done right away, I can’t stand waiting. Lately, I’ve noticed my attitude changing a bit. I’m still impatient in some respects, but I’m more patient with myself. I’m the one who needs developing, and that takes time.

If you feel like you’re getting nowhere, even waisting time, take heart. Life isn’t meant to be lived in one day, or even a week. Life is development, learning and experiencing. Don’t waste life by worrying about time. Live life by using time. Bit by bit.