Generally I’m a relatively shy, quiet person and I’ll (usually) keep myself to myself. But stick a guitar and microphone in front of me and that shyness gets blown out the window. Over the years I’ve played in a number of bands and groups, joined in at countless jam nights, entertained kids at nursery and parent/toddler groups and had many drunken laughs doing bad karaoke. Random fact: my karaoke song of choice was usually ‘Walking on Sunshine’ – but only if they had a pitchshifter and could lower it 2 semi-tones from A to G; otherwise I just couldn’t get that high.
Regardless of where I am or what I’m playing there’s something I love about playing live music. I’ve already mentioned how I love hearing live music in my ‘K is for… Kicking‘ post and that love and passion extends to playing live too. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is, perhaps it’s the freedom I feel from doing something that makes other people happy or, maybe more importantly (albeit selfish?) making me happy. Or perhaps it’s that my guitar is a shield, and whether I’m on stage strumming away like a lunatic and yelling out some garbled lyrics or I’m warbling nursery rhymes gently to a bunch of pre-schoolers, I feel safe. Like nothing can touch me regardless of how I’m feeling.
It’s probably both, if I’m honest. In doing these A-Z posts, and in particular the ‘I is for… Is‘, I have spent a lot of time looking at my song-writing and the events surrounding their lyrical content and musical style. I find it far easier to express my feelings through songs than I do just in talking normally – like I said, I’m actually pretty shy and quiet most of the time. That’s the ‘freedom’ part – I can make myself happy by emptying my head into song lyrics; a permanent record for that moment in my life, a sporadic musical diary. Another part of the freedom is that if I change my mind about a song’s lyrical content then, as an artist, I can just pretend it was all from a stranger’s perspective and not my own personal experience. I don’t think I’ve ever done that though. In fact, I’m 100% certain and have always stuck by my lyrics/life – warts and all.
The ‘safety’ part is probably more difficult to put into writing. But I’ll try anyway. In ‘G is for… Gift‘ I mentioned how I use music to lift my spirits and get me through difficult times. The same goes for playing. When I play my guitar and sing it can be an escape from reality – which itself is only temporary. But if I play the right song, one of my own or maybe a worship song, then it becomes my shield and whatever I’m going through at that moment often just becomes a smaller issue, particularly in the grand scheme of things. Not always, but often.
Music is full of emotion. And my emotions lead me to play music.
So, P is for ‘playing music’.