Updated: Dec 15, 2022
There comes a time when an artist can feel like they've 'reached their potential' in music. Where the creativity seems to lose it's flair, or playing that cover gets to be a repetitive motion, and in some cases, they question whether they should continue playing. For a lot of musicians, the ability to play is a release to express emotion. But what happens when the ability to express that emotion to it's full potential is gone?
Myself, I've had music in my life for longer than some people's lifetimes, but truth be told, it was never a constant term. Life happens. A family comes along. A career gets built. The day to day existence of life's necessities pushes the hobbies and passers of time to the side. Over the years I've used music as a means to release my anger, to let out my frustrations, to help me in times of despair, and of course celebrate my happiness. Whether it was to sit down and write out a compilation, sing along to that one song that triggers the emotion perfectly, or just crank out the tunes to release the energy I was feeling inside, music was always the most effective therapy for me. Even now, with health conditions limiting my hand movement, I have accepted the fact I will never be able to play like Billy Sheehan or Geddy Lee on the bass, or shred a guitar like it's no one's business. My physical health has pushed my music playing days to the side. Of course I still sing whenever I get the chance, whether those around me want to hear it or not, but the creative rhythms and melodies have been pushed to the wayside. For now.
A few months ago I sat with my slimmed down collection of guitars (and if you ask how many guitars I need, then please refer to my April 25th blog titled "another guitar? I can explain...") and thought about the days on stage, the jam sessions with the bands, the hours spent writing, collaborating, arguing with bandmates, etc etc... and thought I was done. I've done what I could in music, so, what's next?
From there, I started to think about the musicians who overcame their own obstacles. Rick Allen, the one armed drummer for Def Leppard, is a prime example. On December 31, 1984 (which was shortly after the band solidified their stardom from the album Pyromania and it's six million copies sold) and his girlfriend swerved off the road on a sharp bend and went through a drystone wall. Rick lost his left arm in the crash, and many swore they would never see him play again. Even his bandmates questioned the fate of Def Leppard, as they didn't feel comfortable with just replacing their drummer that had been a member of the group since 1978. With help from Simmons electronic drum company, Rick built himself a custom drum kit with switches and pedals to compensate for the lost arm. A few months later, he called the rest of the band together for a jam session and rocked out to Led Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks" - Three years later the band's most successful album Hysteria was released.
Several others have also pushed the boundaries and limitations and have made a major impact in music. Beethovan was deaf. Jeff Healey was blind. Django Reinhardt played guitar solos with only two fingers. And here I was, thinking I was done. In actuality, I'm just beginning another chapter.
I've decided to adapt to my limited hand movements and try to play other instruments... which yes, could mean... more guitars!!! I've begun looking into playing a slide guitar, Gotten back into tinkering on keyboards, and been looking at electronic drum kits. Will I be as good as I once was, or at least considered myself to be? Probably not. And I'm ok with that. But I will not give up on the music because of the