I never intended to write this. But something pretty amazing happened (more on that later) and I was inspired.
This is how I know I'm already living my dream:
I got into this because I wanted to carry the weight of people’s hardships with my songs. When I was a melodramatic overly-emotional 15 year old, watching my parents’ marriage and a bunch of my closest friendships dissolving around me, music was the one place I could turn, to know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I was not alone. And that is what attracted me to it. I wanted to say things that were SO emotionally relevant and accurate to my listeners, that they couldn’t help but feel like I knew what they were going through. The problem was: at the time, I didn’t have the experience to know what my listeners were going through at all.
But over the years, some pretty rough stuff has come along, and as much of a cliche' as it is to say this: I’m very grateful for that rough stuff, because it has led me to a deeper understanding of emotion, one that I feel is really allowing me to start to write in a way I only dreamed of before.
Anyway… Thursday night I was playing at this rad upscale restaurant/gastro pub on the Scottsdale waterfront, called ‘Culinary Dropout.’ It was crowded and intense, and the vibe in the place was exciting, but for some reason – I guess it just kinda felt right – I kept making oddly emotional / inspiring song choices, that didn’t necessarily cater to the crowd in the restaurant at the time. And I’m really glad I did…
Probably halfway through my first set, this confident looking guy in his mid-twenties walked up to the stage and gave me the gift of a lifetime in a few words. He looked to be close to tears as he very sincerely told me that he’d had an espically horrible day, and that my music was making him feel better and see things differently – and that I should never let go of this because I have something special. It was an incredible moment… it took me a few songs to recover emotionally enough to say much to the audience.
Keep in mind – it wasn't the compliment that moved me. Compliments are a dime a dozen to most performers… everyone wants to get a word in. No… This guy had a FIRE in his eyes, an earnest honesty and vulnerability that made his words hit me like a ton of bricks. I was blown away. I simply could not stop thinking about that moment for the rest of the weekend!
So here I am three days later, sitting in the courtyard of an outdoor mall by a fire amidst a bunch of palm trees on a 78 degree evening, and until a half hour ago, my mind was totally set on just relaxing, listening to music, and hanging out with my buddy from Chicago…
Now, instead of just relaxing and hanging out, I’m writing something I never intended to write – because I just ran into that same guy, right here, ten miles across town from where I met him! In a city of over 4 million people, that’s simply astounding!
The best part was that he actually came over to talk to me, just to tell me that it had not been the cover songs that inspired him, but rather the lyrics and melodies of my original music. He said that on a day that awful, it was good to know that someone else was going through or had gone through the kind of pain he was feeling.
What. A. Gift.
In the wake of that surreal experience, I’m almost uncomfortably happy. This is why I started… if my songs and performances are carrying even a little bit of the weight of the heavier things in somebody’s life… if I’m saying the exact thing someone needs to hear so that – if only for the length of a song – he doesn’t feel so alone in this unforgiving world… then in the context of creating music, I’m doing everything I’ve ever wanted to do. That doesn't mean I won't do all that I can to get better and reach more people. It means that this is the good stuff. This is what it's like to live a dream.