Me Against The Music

I know I promised you days of poetry. However, I am currently lacking the balls to post today’s poem as I saw its subject recently and realized that said subject is, in fact, a real person with real feelings. As stepped on as my feelings may have been, that doesn’t excuse walking up and metaphorically sucker-punching said subject in the face. Basically, I can’t bring myself to post what I’ve written.


I keep meeting musicians. I guess that’s not unusual, since I live in Nashville and you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a musician, or at least a drummer (insert rim shot here). The guy working at Starbucks probably has a degree in Music Business. The girl building your website probably has a degree in Music Business. Ahem.

Naturally, when I meet these musicians, they sometimes ask if I play anything. Some of them forget to ask, but eventually see the rather hard-to-miss piano sitting in my house.

“Oh? You play?”
“Yes, but not as much as I used to. Just don’t get time.”

This, I’m realizing, is a half truth. It’s true that I don’t get time. It’s also true that, if I had time, I probably wouldn’t spend it at a piano. “So?” you ask.

“So” is me tossing aside years of lessons. “So” is me throwing away hours of practice. “So” is me looking at 19 year old Amy, the one who thought she would never, ever say this, and saying “this just isn’t our medium anymore.” 19 year old looks back in horror and calls 32 year old Amy a turncoat. A FUCKING turncoat. (19 year old Amy had some issues.)

It’s just that I found a more direct means of communication. I don’t speak in notes and poorly-worded lyrics anymore. You can play a song for someone all damned day and they can turn to you when it’s over and say, “that was pretty.” But did you get the point? The POINT was the point. Being “pretty” was not the fucking point.

Worse still, all those musicians I meet tend to demand that I play them something and then start talking to me halfway through my playing. They definitely don’t get the point; they’re just evaluating my technique and wondering why I almost always use the third. The POINT is the point, not my pedaling technique. Did you hear what I was telling you? It’s frustrating, like being trapped in a soundproof glass box. They can see you just fine, but have NO idea what you’re trying to tell them.

That’s why I post words. Why bury myself in metaphor and chord structure when I can just look you in the eye and say, “THIS the the point; HERE is what I’m telling you”?

Those musicians I keep meeting, when I explain that I don’t play much, don’t record much, and don’t play shows ever always just sort of look at me like they don’t understand. Like someone should come and repossess my piano, giving it to some unfortunate skinny-pantsed fellow who can’t afford his own. Like one needn’t bother playing if one isn’t looking for a record deal. That’s the tyranny of Nashville. Music isn’t allowed to be just fun…music is meant to “become something.”

I still play. Sometimes music is still the right medium for certain things. Sometimes, you need to get something out and need to bury it in metaphor. Sometimes, getting the feeling out is the point, rather than the point being the point.

The medium is determined by the message. See, I can spew pretentious bullshit like this all day because I also went to art school.

I’ve been trying to explain this to 19 year old Amy. I’ve been trying to explain this to musicians. I’m not sure either group really understands. As for 32 year old Amy, she still feels guilty for not practicing more.