As a drug abusing, alcoholic musician I can say without a doubt, ‘Yes, it was and is worth it.’ Not only is it worth it, it’s necessary. Not so much the drugs, but the personality that will embrace drugs to cope with it’s existence. The individual who will shrug the pain of developing the finger callouses, tendonitis, arthritis, blown lip, etc. for the release of endorphins playing something ‘good’ brings will also likely shrug the dangers of drinking, smoking, or shooting whatever makes him feel better about his one true addiction…music.
That said, psychedelics are their own thing. Taking them not only makes you aware of different perspectives, it allows you to be one with them. Jimi Hendrix without LSD would’ve been just another exceptional blues guitarist. Maybe more because his career coincided with the invention of distortion and other effects. But what made him stand out was his connection to things he may have never personally experienced. Watch the woodstock video of his version of the national anthem. That wasn’t a new take on the blues scale. That was him expressing what his mind’s eye had seen of war. The 1st handers didn’t get a chance to play their guitars, but he was able to fully realize their plight and express it through his medium.
About the losses…death’s a part of life. We lose about as many musicians to plane crashes and cancer.
LondonJazzCollector mentioned the audience and the drugs they were on. The audience is a huge part of a music’s upbringing, evolution, and overall success. How many venues have you been to that didn’t have a bar? Where you didn’t smell weed near the back door? Where you didn’t suspect someone of a self-inflicted runny nose?
Drugs are as much a part of the music we know as an artist’s childhood, society, colleagues, or influences and it is worth it.
‘No junk, no soul.’
Comment from punctualtroubadour
– Well, it’s a thing i’ve some experience with, LOL! Regardless of one’s technical prowess, rehearsing and performing with others is the best and most expedient way to progress. And being super relaxed. Really funny, what you describe as “frankenstein’s hand syndrome,” i have called “spaghetti hands or fingers”. I suffer from it most when I am unfamiliar with changes or being rushed, or having anxiety. Best cure for me has been to have the changes down cold and/or take a deep breath and pause. Thanks to mad repetition, I can learn changes on the bandstand on the fly more quickly than in the past. But, of course, depends on the gig what kind of risks and liberties to take…..relax, relax, relax….
LondonJazzCollector – I didn’t even understand it but I liked it.
Musician just finished a late club date walks into a bar.
The only other customer on a stool has been drinking all night. The man raises his glass, peers into it for a moment, and than falls slowly backwards, crashing unconscious to the floor.
Musician turns to the barman.
“I’ll have whatever he was having”
Response to Band Humor
Alfredo – I couldn’t agree more. This genre of jazz is what gets my musical juices flowing. I can’t hear T. Monk or Charlie Parker without wanting to pick up my horn and try to play along (emphasis on th word “try”). Over the years I have met a number of people who say they like jazz, but not the improvisation only the structured parts-the music that sounds familiar to them. To me it is the solos that rally reach within and express the fluidity and beauty of music.
Arnold Faber – I know the following music cited involves lyrics, but I really think it illustrates the minor/major discussion as well. I mean, if you substituted instrumental music in the following, I believe the scenario would still hold true. It’s all about recognition and association to that recognition.
In my experience, it seems to come down to “context”. Imagine yourself, at a party having a great time, a few drinks etc.. Billie Holiday is in the background, seeping into your ear while you are engaged in an interesting conversation. Say there is a selection/album/continuous, of Fine Romance, All Of Me, Strange Fruit, Ain’t Misbehavin’; a complete mix. At best, you probably will enjoy the overall “hipness” of the sound as well as your personal recognition of the tunes. At the worst, you probably won’t even take notice; I don’t think it will spoil your mood or good time through the overall party din.
If however, you are at home by yourself, a bottle of scotch and Billie on the sound system when you just lost your job, your dog died and your woman left you, well…
I think that comments reflected concerning Debate #1, are relevant along these lines as well. Different cultures, ears with varied listening experiences AND pertinent contexts of theories musical, or otherwise, that may have been thrust upon the listener, would be of influence.
yvonnemason – I have had the privilage to be raised in a home where all music was listened to. I played in a school band from 5th grade to graduation from high school. I firmly believe that music is the soul. Without it our lives would be so dark. It creates emotion, thought and feelings. I can’t live without it.
LondonJazzCollector – I was fortunate enough to grow up in the “Blues Boom” of the mid to late Sixties, and would go to the Marquee in Wardour Street for evenings with John Mayalls Bluesbreakers, Jeff Beck, all the greats. I don’t think there is any instrument so expressive in those days as the electric guitar (mine was a Gibson Les Paul original) in the hands of the great players like Peter Green and the young Clapton. For me as a player in those days, the emotion was all in the skill of the vibrato. Bend that B or E string two notes and keep it singing; We used to fit Banjo strings for their greater suppleness.Then crank the Marshall stack to overload for that dirty sustain. It was rarely about “note” but more what you did to them that expressed the emotion. Your whole body is behind that vibrato, it wasphysical, finger tips hardened like stone.
Personally I trace it all back to the Otis Rush original version of “So Many Roads”: the sound and voice that launched a thousand players. I don’t think its ever been done better since, still rgabs up my emotions. I don’t follow the scene now but I dust my blues every now and then, and it still hits the spot. Add BBKing’s Live at the Regal (original vinyl). Timeless, and amost entirrely three chords. Ridiculous when you think about it.
C.Flitney – You are a lucky man, (not that I’m envious at all).
Thanks for sharing your memories with us and I really appreciate your support.
LondonJazzCollector – Personally I love works in the minor key – melancholy – over major key – happy. My first love in jazz in my teens was Charlie Byrd’s “Samba Triste” I think from an even more beautiful original by Baden Powell. Beauty and that haunting quality flows from the key chord changes.
Its like listening to “Blues” – singing and playing, as an antidote to adversity. “Happy Blues” is an oxymoron – sexual braggadocio is about as far as it goes. Our response to “bad luck and trouble” is the best reason to sing the Blues, because it makes people feel better in adversity. Beyond that I can not explain. And it has the best lines. “Got me accused of forgery, I cant even write my name” Great song. You can’t write it in the positive. There wouldn’t be any reason to.