I’ve been playing guitar for over twenty-five years and have never written a complete song.
Not for lack of trying. I bet I’ve put more than a thousand hours into jamming with myself with the sole intention of writing an actual piece of music with a beginning, middle, and end. It just hasn’t happened. I come up with plenty of riffs, choruses, bridges and outtros – I have dozens (if not hundreds) of these clips recorded and saved onto my computer. You could probably cobble many of them together to compose a decent tune. I just can’t seem to do it myself.
I’m resigning myself to a truth that’s spent over two decades in denial. I’m never going to write a complete song.
Yes, it’s defeatist. Yes, I understand that thinking positively and creating the vision and meditating on it and asking the universe and all that stuff may help. Or maybe not. Probably not.
If I get quiet and honest, this truth surfaces. I’m just not built to do something that I’ve devoted a good chunk of my life working on.
Guitar was not simply a hobby for me. It’s been an obsession. While I didn’t have girlfriends or the most active social life in high school, I could always count on music to be my companion. After the first few years of struggling to play anything resembling an actual composition, I knew I would be playing the rest of my life. And I have been.
What prompted this post was that in the past hour I tried, one again in vain, to write a complete melody. As always, I got about 60% of the way there. The frustration mounted and I had to put the guitar down.
I checked in with my feelings and I asked, “Do I really want to write music?” No answer. I asked again. Nothing.
Then, I started to chuckle as it occurred to me – I’m just not a songwriter. I never have been. I always thought I was supposed to be and it’s the reason I picked up the guitar in the first place. I wanted to write blazing solos like Joe Satriani or sing about the gritty streets like Mike Ness.
When I fantasized about playing in front of an audience, I saw myself as those guys tearing it up on stage. I wanted so badly to be them.
It’s a subtle self-shaming – somehow, me being D.J. isn’t good enough. I needed to write and play like my heroes.
So, I’m putting the guitar away for awhile. I still love the energy and emotion I can draw out of the instrument, but it’s not my calling. I’m never going to progress past my current level. And, when I look inward, I don’t think I’m supposed to.
What am I here to do creatively? The reality is I don’t know. Maybe it’s just to keep writing this blog. Or a book. Maybe put together a few minutes of material and try stand-up. Or write a one-man show.
Or perhaps it’s something else entirely that I haven’t yet discovered.
What I know is that giving up the dream of songwriting actually feels as if a weight had been lifted (please forgive this cliche). It’s a truth I avoided and the constant disappointment was heavy.
Maybe I should devote my life to constructing hardcore rap lyrics and selling them to hip-hop artists. I bet Drake never thought of rhyming “Cadillac” with “fat nut sack.” That’ll be $100, please.
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