Notes In the rests
I remember being angry. It is not an anger at one certain thing just anger. Perhaps it was a build up, or maybe just empty teenage angst. But I wasn’t even a teenager so that couldn’t have been it. It was just anger, rage, hostility towards everything and a serious lack of understanding of the world. It felt like a cauldron trying to bo
il over and out onto everything. Passion begged for release of some kind. A canvas couldn’t take it, paint just wasn’t meant for the type of emotion this was. Colors just don’t convey concisely what this was. Deep, deep down something wanted out, an expression was required to heal whatever wound was concealed. Words may fail but perhaps the best way of describing it is that somewhere in the recesses of my humanity i felt abandoned, alone, separated. That’s a better word, separated. Separated from the biggest need of my soul and inner being. And that separation manifested itself in anger at everything in the world.
I can vividly remember the first day I picked up a guitar. It was not a day for good music resembling anything other than simple noise and nonsense. An chaotic barrage of senseless notes and half tones amidst the pain of soft skin on nickel strings. Yet, there was an electricity that flowed between hand and instrument. I have always been a musician. It started with blowing on random horns laying around the house, a Yamaha “keytar” my uncle gave me. Then it moved to Trombone, then Saxophone. And when I was 14 for Christmas my parents gave me a guitar. It was a black electric guitar complete and an amplifier to go with it. It had been several years since my hands had touched that first guitar (my first experience had been when I found another uncles old acoustic underneath a bed at my grandmother’s). When I took “her” out of the case my hand and arm felt complete. yes its sounds stupid, or corny or made up, but it seriously felt that way. As I learned to play, suddenly that rage that had been down low became something else. It became longing, it became passion, expression, and desire. It wasn’t until I had “Jolene” that I truly understood music on a deep level, and I’m still learning what it is(yes my guitar has a name, they all have names).
Music manifests itself in a myriad of styles and methods. And while it is so easy to dismiss one as less than another, what I have come to learn is that each one has it’s own voice, personality and means of communicating emotion, meaning, and passion. Why did music heal me? Well, for starters music alone did not heal me. It was the medicine by which God healed me. It was a melding of sounds, words, and emotion into one medium that spoke with the voice I was speaking. What I realized was that the voice inside me that was crying out was one that was lost and alone and separated from what would make it whole. So blues, power chords, and a growling voice combined to cry out. Yet so often when we cry out we don’t actually hear anything calling back. We don’t listen enough in the rests. We try to solo constantly, but the moment I stopped and listened, let the music breath, let the rest happen, I heard a voice answering my call. It was God singing back, doing the other part of call and response. Rock and Roll gave me a voice to cry out what was inside of me, to question, to rage against that which I felt was wrong. It still gives me that voice. There are many styles of music that do the same for every other person on the planet.
Maybe your style of music is Southern Gospel music. I know many people who I love dearly and that is their bread and butter. It is not mine, not that I refuse to listen or play it. I am of the belief that all music is a vessel of message, and so if that is what I need to do to reach you then I will do my best to play as best as I can.
The point of this is that music is a uncontainable commodity to humanity. It is a call and response to that which we cannot understand or reach. And there is an answer in it. But we don’t listen. There is an answer to Kurt Cobain’s cry of rage, it’s in the poetry and questions of Jon Foreman. There is an answer to the blues of the delta, it is in the spirituals and urban gospel in the church down the street from the dive bars. There is an answer to the empty boasting of hip hop’s riches and wealth, it’s Le’crae and Trip Lee. There an answer to the carefree good ole’ boyish in modern country, it is the completeness in bluegrass gospel and southern gospel. Don’t miss the message for the words and style. Don’t throw away an opportunity to have your questions answered because you are too busy seeking in the rests. Listen to the music, listen to the answers to your questions, be completed, made whole, calmed, reassured, encouraged, lifted up, and found. Some music may not be for you, music is always a conversation, many are private, but we are given the open window into someone’s soul when they perform. Let us be listen to what they are learning in their conversations. Who know’s what we may hear in the rests.