I have a hopeless, desperate, romantic obsession with reckless abandon.
That is quite a sentence.
All my life I have been romantic about the idea of carelessly letting go of
the rules of the world and letting it all hang out.
It’s certainly an effect of all the 80’s movies I grew up watching, I’m certain.
I followed the rules my entire childhood and adolescent life.
Even into my early twenties I was doing what I was supposed to do for the most part.
The idea of not going along with the pack, taking the low road…the long hard low road
sounded more exciting to me, and yet I did just the opposite.
I loved music and musicians that were different and exciting.
Eddie Van Halen was always my first guitar hero and will forever be.
His guitar playing was so wild and crazy and such a departure from the stale,
straight forward playing I heard in other rock n roll.
Jimmy Page was the same way, precise but sloppy at the same time.
Songs that were about leaving it all behind and stepping into the unknown based on a whim of romance or leaving your hometown…..wooo they would really get to me.
The entire “Darkness on the Edge of Town” album will change me every time.
Music fueled my fire for reckless abandon.
If I heard the right song that had that desperation in it, that longing for letting go,
it took me to another world in my heart where I made decisions based on feeling
and not on good judgment. Music still does the same thing to me today.
There are certain albums I can’t listen to all the time because they will really change my focus.
I of course obviously idolized these musicians and the stories of getting all messed up and playing crazy and out of control. All of my hero’s were drug addicts and alcoholics.
I really thought at some point that I would never be on the level of these guys, especially guitar players, if I didn’t start drinking and doing drugs. Once I began drinking in my early twenties
and playing gigs, I would just let go and get really crazy. People would freak out.
The next day they would tell me how awesome I played and how I was a genius.
Of course my ego began to believe all of this and I became consumed with the “Inner Genius”.
The more I drank, the better I played and so the saga began.
I truly thought that Jimi Hendrix was that good because he was on drugs.
It was a romantic story of loss of life and amazing talent brought about through the use
of drugs and alcohol. It never occurred to me that he was just maybe that good because he practiced and played the instrument all the time…..
I did that as well, but for some reason I couldn’t get past all of the rules in my head until I had a beer. The problem is that once I had a beer, I wanted a LOT of beers, and then whiskey.
Eventually it turned into cocaine and then it all went out the window.
Now that I am on the other side, of course, I see more clearly.
I understand that yes SRV was playing his ass off on drugs, but a lot of time the drugs
were playing the guitar, not SRV. Maybe he played less notes when he was sober and more precise, but they were much more considerate and emotional.
This all brings me to the point…….
A lovely man gave me an SRV recording last week in the UK.
He was a sweet man and I was very thankful for the cd. It was a live recording from
somewhere in California in 1984. But as he handed me the disc he said
“This is Stevie at his best, all messed up drugs and playing incredible!”
“I think he was much better on the drugs than he was when they cleaned him up.”
I knew what he meant and he certainly meant no harm.
He meant he loved the “Reckless Abandon”.
It’s a shame. They have both versions to compare - the messed up Stevie,
and the cleaned up Stevie. At this point I will always take the cleaned up Stevie.
He was alive and playing from the heart.
He didn’t die from drug abuse and made it through to live another day.
He was writing songs about recovery and sobriety and living just for today.
It was beautiful and had meaning way beyond his reckless guitar playing.
But I understood what he meant.
People are always romanced by the loss and the pain and the suffering.
It is part of the human condition. It’s who we are.
That reckless, desperate feeling can be accomplished without drugs or
the loss of life. It takes as much letting go to let go and let God.
To trust in the process and accept the outcome. To not follow the rules in my head,
but follow the feeling in my heart. It has taken years to get to this point in my life,
and especially in my music and playing. To not think so much and trust what the
Spirit decides for me to play today. When I write a song, if I’m lucky and feeling good,
I just try and let the song come to me with no pre-conceived ideas or patterns.
Instead of thinking about the next note I’ll play during a solo, I just play.
Sure, sometimes it’s not always as good as I would like, but over time and a commitment
to continue trusting the process, my hands begin to go where they want and it sounds good.
I close my mouth when I want say stupid shit and let words that are more helpful come out.
I trust the process today, it’s the ultimate feeling of reckless abandon.
I let go and let God handle it all, the best I can.
It’s desperate and amazing and hopeful.
I have no idea whats coming next, but I know if I’m doing the right thing……
something good is coming my way.
I practice my guitar and try and be physically and mentally prepared for the stage,
then when I get there - I let it all go. Let’s see what happens next.
If I’ve done my homework and I am feeling good physically, mentally and spiritually,
I am almost certain to have a wonderful and exciting experience musically.
Today I am moved by emotion and freedom, trust and faith.
It takes a lot of humility and whole lot of awareness to let it all go,
and I am thankful for the gift of being here.