Thursday, September 11, 2008

I got this guitar, and I learned how to make it talk

Yeah... I have been a bit of an absentee lately, here and elsewhere. There's been a lot going on, including the fact that I am super busy at work (beginning of the semester, new web site design, new head of our department, etc.); at home, I'm preparing for a short vacation/family reunion (my mom is celebrating a Significant Birthday and, coincidentally, so is her twin sister -- so a little gang of us is zipping out east and renting a house in Provincetown for a few days). And in all honesty, all I want to do is play my guitar all day and all night. It's like being seventeen again! I know that when you're seventeen there are other things you're not supposed to be able to keep your hands off of... but for me it was always my guitar.

Playing music again (as the musicians among you will understand) is incredibly good for my mental health. I can actually feel the difference in my body, that my bones and muscles are happier with music in them. And there's nothing like playing music to give you the experience of being completely in the moment, completely present, which is something that's too easy to forget (at least for someone who spends a lot of time living in her head).

And some of the technique is coming back a lot faster than I expected it would after so many years of neglect. Muscle memory, I guess! I'm still not any good, but for once in my life that is OK with me. I am doing this purely for my own enjoyment, not with any thoughts of taking it public or professionalizing it or even performing in coffeehouses now and then. I'm not a particularly ambitious person, but when it comes to creative work, it's hard for me to let myself just bash away at something for fun -- and yet that's the healthiest thing in the world for me, helps me remember how to demolish some of the internal censors and editors that sometimes keep me from doing my best work in other creative areas. Like, you know, that poetry stuff I'm supposed to be all about. (Ahem.)

And, of course, I'm still on a huge Bruce Springsteen kick. After the amazing shows I saw in August, I may be on that kick for quite a while. I'm still trying to put a finger on just what it is about his music (and performances) I love so much. Part of it is the complete lack of irony, the unashamed embrace of primal emotions -- joy, grief, love, rage -- someone I know went to his show in Indianapolis last spring and commented that so many bands and audiences these days, especially younger ones, are all about being cool and detached, and it was fun to see people actually jumping around pumping their fists in the air like fools and not caring. So there's that. I'm not very good at being ironic and detached, myself -- I think I actually flunked out of PoMo 101 -- and it's reassuring to me to witness art that successfully (in my opinion anyway) navigates the big emotions, the big ideas, the sweep and uproar and glorious bombast of it all.

Yes, I just called rock & roll "art." Shut up. :)

So I feel like all of this is still settling in. I went away from poetry for a few years back there, and when it came back it was better than ever; I've been away from playing music for much longer than I was away from poetry, so we'll see what happens with that. I would like it if the music served to inform the poetry, and I think that will happen to some extent. I would also like it if the days suddenly stretched out to 48 hours apiece, because there's just too much music and poetry and reading and listening and playing and writing and ... yeah. I'll just be over here getting too far behind on everything, if anybody needs me. Rock on.


Anonymous said...

whoo hoo! :D is that an A barre chord? It looks like it from here but you're far away. :D

Anne said...

Jilly, LOL! I think it is at that. Sophie Stratocaster seems to really like those barre chords, so I give her what she wants, much as it hurts me... ;)

Anonymous said...


Maggie May said...

bruce springsteen is a god and a genius with lyrics

Jessie Carty said...

i was reading along thing..hey alot of this applies to being a poet and then..of course you said it :)

glad you are enjoying playing again. i have always wanted to learn to play something but at best i played a little clarinet in 7th grade band and then i self taught myself a little piano in high school.

wonders if i could learn some of that again...

have fun!