The search for the muse is almost like entering into Alice’s wonderland. The endless loop of trying to find that perfectly clever line or that melody that doesn’t sound like a Tom Petty song (which is hard because he has already written EVERY GREAT MELODY). The void that can be reached by all but only the chosen few reach it with greatness. Artists are born out of the constant search for approval. At some point in time, someone told a kid with a guitar that they were the second coming of the Messiah, then that same day someone else told them they were lower than dirt. That’s the start of the muse…the searching.
“Some say I’m a fool, some say I’m a dreamer”
6AM. We pile in our car with amps, keyboards and guitars that are worth more than the car itself. We drive a few hundred miles to play for meager pay and stale beer, but since I don’t drink beer…just the cash is fine with me. And then we pack the car back up, and head home. The cycle continues, and yet we persist. Why? The muse.
I find myself entranced by the highway. I believe there is something magical in hordes of anxious people not so carefully traveling faster than God (or Buddha, Allah, giant frog in the sky or whatever divinity you lay claim to) ,intended yet doing so anyway. It’s within this space that I am able to clear my head, jam to a few Springsteen records and let my mind search for music.
We arrive at sound check around 6PM. This is usually when I get that sinking feeling in my stomach and think,
“NO one is going to come.”
“WHY would they?”
“Do I even know HOW to play guitar?!?”
Even if the show is sold out the thought runs through my mind,
“That doesn’t mean they HAVE to come”.
But I put on a professional face (whatever that means) and take my guitar out of the case.
A few years ago I had a slight dislocation in my left shoulder and ever since then, it chooses to dislodge itself at the most 'opportune' times. This time was when I was reaching down for a Gibson SL-200, a beautiful old acoustic guitar that had stolen my heart and inspired a lot of the songs Cierra and I were writing. I then greeted our lovely guests with a
“Thank you so much for coming to the show! Does anyone have a PAINKILLER?”
After asking a half a dozen people, one of my dearest friends, Tanisha Uzeta had some pill, (Motrin, Tylenol, Midol…something) to ease the pain.
“I’m gonna be a happy idiot, and struggle for the legal tender”- Jackson Browne
Tanisha has remained one of my closet companions. We don’t talk too often, but we don’t need to. We always pick back up where we left it like no times has gone by. I can read her and she can read me. We’ve shared countless laughs, seen love, heartbreak, losses, a few (or many) drunken nights, and it is always an honor and joy to be with her or singing alongside her. She’s one of those people I’m lucky to know and you would be lucky to know her. She’s a muse.
Jake Ohlbaum takes the stage and encapsulates the room with his intensely soulful music. Jake is a guy who gets me. Musicians are often egotistical maniacs and often think that their music is the greatest thing since the caveman discovered fire. Not Jake. He deeply, deeply loves music and the creation of it. He’s a muse.
Shoulder still throbbing, I quick take a shot of tequila and step onto the stage. I’m joined by two of the greatest friends the world has offered to me. One is a beautiful blonde-haired light of sass, smiles and power that I think quite fondly of and the other one is….
Cierra Louise…wait what? I mean… Mark Deschner.
They are musicians that I trust fully with my music. They are great counterparts to how I think, act and play. I’ve played with quite a few different musicians and you know you’ve found something special when the players can predict your next move without questions.
There is an energy that comes about when the night sounds and feels right. When you stop playing the music and start hovering above the space in which it is being created. Every night does not enter into this space, but February 4th 2017, came pretty close. Within the space of the musicians and the audience, there is a connection that is made, a type of healing space where for just that moment, the pains life offers us don’t matter. The music lifts them and places them in a different world. As the late, great Clarence Clemens said, “That stage is some type of healing floor,” I agree, it’s the muse at work.
“I’m gonna find myself a girl who can show me what laughter means, and we’ll fill in the missing colors in each other's paint by number dreams”- Jackson Browne
I’m grateful to be in touch with my muse. So many have helped my search, my parents and my sisters most of all; they ground me, even when I’ve lost my mind (which happens more often than you would think). I’m grateful for the countless friends, old and new, that continuously bring the muse back into my line of sight. I’m especially blessed by my Nashville family, Molly Lins and Ian DePriest; two incredibly talented artists whose generosity and kindness surpasses ordinary humans. All of them summon the muse.
The journey towards the muse is one not many are fortunate enough to take. I’m not sure if I will be lucky enough to keep searching for the rest of my life, but I sure as hell hope that I get the chance to.
“I’ll roam with you under the red plain’s clouds, for as long as all this roaming is allowed”
Whatever your muse is, follow it. It might be difficult, it might not make sense, but it will be worth it. But be careful for the muse waits for no one. So when it comes barreling down the highways of your mind like a freight train, you better jump on.