“Why don’t you just play something and I’ll sing along,” he said. Which was something in our ten years of knowing each other and 4 years of being in a rock n roll band together, had never happened.
We weren’t a “jam” type of band back in the day. We were a band that had songs already brought to the table (from him) and then the rest of the band would learn to play them.
Which suited me fine at the time because I thought he was brilliant, and I didn’t think I was very good at music. I didn’t know the scales. I didn’t know how to riff. I couldn’t tell you what key we were in or where, other than the basic notes, my hands were on the fret-board. I knew how to be in a band, but I didn’t think I was any good at writing songs.
I’ve always played music differently. By heart. By ear. By feel. And that was always good enough for me, especially when I wrote most of my songs alone in my bedroom.
So when he said to “just play something” I immediately got a rush of old familiar feelings. My cheeks got hot, I felt like a 13 year old with braces going to the junior high dance for the first time. I froze. And felt like I didn’t know how to play. And all I knew wasn’t good enough.
But then…..I just played something.
Something I thought was a stupid song I’d written around the time I joined the band. A stupid song that I thought had stupid lyrics and that I sounded stupid singing. So stupid that I didn’t even want to sing the lyrics because I thought they were so embarrassing.
I thought for sure he would be like “ehhhhh….can you play something else,” but instead he sat up straight on the couch, pointed his finger straight at me, and in his cockneyed brittish accent he asked “WHAT IS THAT! It’s beee-UU-iful.” Then “it’s so heartbreaking and so….real.”
Shyly I said “it’s my song. I wrote it forever ago. It’s not very good.”
He didn’t agree.
We spent the rest of the night, finishing the song, which he barely tweaked. We added some harmonies, he added a verse, and it turned out so beautiful that I thought he might both cry and also kick me out of our newly formed band-for-fun for not showing him this song sooner, and so beautiful that I looked at him shocked, like I had heard it for the first time.
Last night…we played it again. And again. And again.
And it was that bittersweet feeling when you are so so happy that you are doing something so fun and fulfilling but also so sad that you spent so much of your time thinking it/you weren’t any good.
I’ve lived with the stigma for almost 15 years that I wasn’t very good at music. I knew I was great at performing, and good enough at playing bass, but somewhere along the line I picked up that I wasn’t very good at guitar or songwriting.
And it made me shy to play and shy to sing and shy to share. And as I’m playing now, although I’m no Joni Mitchell, I’m actually a lot better than I thought I was. And I can hold my own. And I can write songs dammit! And I have great ideas.
And I would have never known if I hadn’t picked up the guitar again and just played something.
Once you play music it never leaves you. And much is the same in life in general. Who we are, deep down, is always there. Even when you’ve sold all your guitars and sworn that you would never play again. Even when you’ve packed up your fringy leather skirt and sparkly sequined shorts into your parents storage unit next to your baby blanket and your 6th grade diary.
Even when you bury yourself so far down that you hardly remember you existed, you are still there. The embers burning below, just waiting for you to break out the song you never showed anyone before, so you can set the rest on fire.
And this reminds me of how many things in our lives are like this. How long some of us go thinking we aren’t any good, or we’re too embarrassed to show our art and creations because we think they are stupid.
And then I’m reminded of what a shame this is.
What if the next hit song is buried inside you. (TWEET THIS)
Or the next revolution. Or the next charity that helps millions of people. What if you’re the next Mother Teresa or the next Steve Jobs. What if you’re the next best selling author, but the world will never know because you’re too shy, embarrassed and scared to just start playing something.
So this is the battle cry for us all. The cry for us all to truly learn how to love, honor and SEE ourselves as beautiful, creative and wonderful beings who have an arsenal of amazing things to share.
Here is your permission to JUST START PLAYING…something. Will you?
And now I want to hear from you. Do you feel like there is something that you haven’t been sharing with the world? Do you feel like you’ve forgotten how amazing you are? Do you look at your life and say “I used to be so awesome?” If so…what do you do about it and how do you find that greatness inside again?
Leave a comment below and give me allllll of your insider secrets. :) And if you like this article, make sure you like it (at the top left of the page) and share it with anyone you think needs to hear this message today.
“Don’t let your music die in you.” – Wayne Dyer (TWEET THIS!)
Just. Start. Playing.
P.s. One of my next things is virtual online Kundalini yoga classes. It’s gonna be rad. Promise. Get on this list to make sure you’re in the loop when that goes live.
P.p.s. Wanna hear the song?? Check out this old recording I did.