The metaphysics of playing music
By Austin Weaver 03/14/2013
My wise mother once told me, “Sincerity is not the name of the game.”
What do the following songs have in common?
“Happiness Is a Warm Gun”
“Needle in the Hay”
All I can say is that they’re not songs about bullshit. And from experience, I can also say that I used to not know what they meant.
Who am I, do you wonder? I am consciousness on paper and you are reading my thoughts at this time. Now these thoughts are your thoughts. I am typing these words in order to raise awareness concerning music and musicianship. A lot of thought, frustration, living and yelling/being yelled at has gone into what I am endeavoring to impart to you, so please indulge in this sentiment:
Just love. Love yourself. Love your family. Love your friends. Love your neighbors. Love the world. Love all things. I couldn’t think of more sage/trite advice, though it is sincere. As a musician, I put my heart into everything. You must awaken. Search your mind and your feelings for the ring of truth in what you are reading.
If you are a musician as well, I applaud you. I love you. And like a loving parent, I’ll scold you for something I have assumed that you have been guilty of in the past. Ready for it? Arrogance.
Where is the honor in doing anything half-assed under the pretense of being authentic?
I speak as a man already tried and convicted, time served. I have no attachment to your opinion of me. I am making music as the only expression I know that has the power to empower. I love words — passionate or wry, pleading or out of spite and rage. That is why I am conversing with you now (looking forward to your response, if you feel so inclined).
What does it all mean? What’s the message I wish to convey?
Be respectful with yourself, your craft, your audience, your band and your fellow local musicians.
Arrogance, losing your shit, and judging yourself and others will get you nowhere in this thing. Be a humble and loyal light to all. Persist with awareness of self and compassion for others. Play that song and play it well. If you can’t without arrogance, hate or the inclination to inflict harm, just quit. No joke. No hidden message. Just relieve us of your noise — we don’t want you here, ’cause this thing is life and we take it seriously. We have no time for distractions (though we may make time for the ones that feed our egos’ desires).
Why not record yourself practicing? Listen to it. Play it for friends and strangers alike. Sing, scream, and dance your ass off for these people. They are all you have.
Scratch that. The attention of people you are with is all you have as a performer. Read between the lines. Get the message and yell it out as an artistic expression of who you are and not as an assertion of your worldview.
Nope — I take that back — do not take anything personally. Do not make another accepting your viewpoint the emotional and egotistic aim of your words. Do no harm. Inflict no pain. We need more kindness in this life, don’t we?
The implications are all there, but it takes an awareness of humility, compassion, moderation and patience. It takes conscious effort. It takes discernment to figure it all out, but don’t try...
Austin Weaver is a 27-year-old Ventura native. A local guitar instructor and singer-songwriter, he is leader of Astral Weather, formerly The Thumpers. Reach him at www.facebook.com/pages/astral-weather or at email@example.com. The Guest List is an occasional guest opinion column written by people involved in local music.