Friday, July 13, 2007


There was a time I wanted to be a rock star. I played in a band for a few years in the late 1980’s and early nineties. It started in Fargo North Dakota while I was in College. We had a little following there. One of the bands I helped found went on to some small national fame after I stopped playing with them and moved to Mpls when I graduated – Hammerhead.

Those were some great times in my life. I loved creating music and when you are in your twenties with a lot of time on your hands, you can really blossom under a heavy dose of delusion and obsession. My memory holds some notions that we actually were the greatest rock-n-roll band for those fleeting moments in a basement of a small home overlooking the wheat and sugar beet fields of the Red River Valley.

I started a couple of bands when I moved to Minneapolis, and although I became more technically proficient on the guitar, the inspiration for creating music was gone. Slowly, as I have grown older, music has become more and more trivial to me.

I still love to hear a good song and I pick up my guitar once in a blue moon to strum a couple of chords. I even have some recording software and I have put some songs together with all the parts. I am very thankful for those delusional and obsessive days of my youth, because although genius is no longer within my grasp on the guitar or in writing songs, playing music is a lot like riding a bike in that you never forget the mechanics of it. I can pick up the guitar and play a song that I have formed in my head, even if my guitar has laid untouched for a month or more.

But, music is too technical and the obsession is long gone. First I discarded all my albums (<500)i>

Maybe it is just that I am getting older, I don’t know. But, there is something that is lost when everything is just available to you. We get bogged down in choice until we become paralyzed. I long for the days when all I had to decide was whether I should listen to Exile on Main Street one more time or the Kinks Arthur.

I remember the excitement I felt when I began listening to music from Jamaica and then Africa. I also used to love to hear what they were doing in Seattle or Athens. Now, that music really is global there is no connection of music to a place. It is all just digitalized notes downloaded into cyberspace. But the music I loved grew out of the South in some dire conditions for downtrodden people. It was fused with the land these cultures identified with. And out of that land, music was formed that traveled full circle around the world. Blues, Jazz, Country Western, Rock, Soul, R&B, etc, all came from a place and wherever it landed it took on the forms and cultures of the place it arrived at. Music now never arrives at a place and it doesn’t sound like music anymore to my ears. I’d rather listen to songbirds in my garden and the winds whipping through the trees – even the hum of the freeway in the distance and airplanes overhead – than the music that comes to us from cyberspace.