Sparring Masters

A while back, I posted a picture that I had doctored to give my daughter and nephew lightsabers. Around that same time, I had pulled a bunch of pictures off the interweb to goof around with in the same way. Some of them actually turned out pretty good, so I thought I’d start sharing some of them with you. Hope you enjoy!
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Music

I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’ve posted about lots of different things on here, but for some reason, I’ve left out music. I honestly don’t know why — music makes up a pretty big portion of my life and always has. As a kid, I would sit for long stretches of time and listen to my parents’ records. Jackson Browne, Elton John, Steppenwolf, Emmy Lou Harris, and others formed the soundtrack of my early life. When I was about 7 years old, I got a boombox, and two tapes for Christmas. They were Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA and Phil Collins’s No Jacket Required. I loved them.

I still remember that Christmas pretty well; it was the first one where I felt like I had gotten something grown-up. It’s hard to describe, but I had finally reached some new plateau of freedom. I no longer had to rely on my parents to put an album on for me… and I no longer had to succumb to someone else’s musical whims. I was free to play any tape at my disposal, or even just listen to the radio. For a seven year old, that’s power…

At night, I used to go to sleep to music. I kept my stereo on the headboard of my bed, and my tape case was next to it. I had all of their locations memorized. When a tape finished, if I wanted to listen to a different one, I could reach behind me, eject the tape, put it in its case, find another one, and slide it into the tape deck without ever having to turn on the lights. If I had memorized my multiplication tables as well, imagine where I’d be now…

And my tastes have always been pretty eclectic too. In 3rd grade, I saved up and bought Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet album. I also had stuff by Billy Joel, the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Def Lepard, and though I’m somewhat ashamed, New Kids on the Block. I was lucky enough to start high school at a great time for music… the summer of ’92. I had just discovered Eric Clapton and was really digging his guitar licks, when I also started getting into Pearl Jam, Metallica (the Black album is what first got me interested in them), Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, etc. And so while I was becoming indoctrinated with the grunge bands of the 90’s, my love of Clapton was also leading me back toward the 60’s and 70’s. I ended up becoming one of Hendrix’s biggest fans. And from there I got into the Doors, Grand Funk Railroad, and Pink Floyd.

At this point, it’s hard to find genres that I don’t like; although, it’s gotten much harder for me to listen to anything with offensive lyrics. But beyond that, I can usually find something I like in any style.

There are all kinds of things that can make music great. I love the delicate intricacies that can sometimes be found in melodies and progressions. There’s a live version of Hendrix’s “Hear My Train a’Comin'” that contains a riff that is just heavenly to me. And David Gilmore’s solo in Pink Floyd’s “Don’t Leave Me Now” is simple, but so incredibly powerful! Gilmore and B.B. King always knew that the notes you don’t play are just as important as the ones you do. Like King said, “notes are expensive… spend them wisely.”

Sometimes it’s the lyrics that really make a song. That’s why I love Jackson Browne and Dashboard Confessional. It’s that line or story that comes out in a song, and when you hear it, you might not even be able to put your finger on what it is, but something just seems to speak to you. Something that shouts a resounding YES! in your head because what they’ve said is somehow just right.

That’s why I love music. Whether it’s simple or it’s complicated, it doesn’t really matter. It just has to be something that fits you. The reason why is irrelevant.

And so I think I’ll leave you with the lyrics to one of my favorite songs. Maybe it won’t be anything special for you. And to be honest, I think I love it as much for the musical phrasing as for the words themselves. So if you ever get the chance to hear the song, do it. By the way, one of the things I love about this song is how some of the imagery is carried farther than just a line or two.

Farther On – Jackson Browne
In my early years I hid my tears
And passed my days alone
Adrift on an ocean of loneliness
My dreams like nets were thrown
To catch the love that I’d heard of
In books and films and songs
Now there’s a world of illusion and fantasy
In the place where the real world belongs

Still I look for the beauty in songs
To fill my head and lead me on
Though my dreams have come up torn and empty
As many times as love has come and gone

To those gentle ones my memory runs
To the laughter we shared at the meals
I filled their kitchens and living rooms
With my schemes and my broken wheels
It was never clear how far or near
The gates to my citadel lay
They were cutting from stone some dreams of their own
But they listened to mine anyway

I’m not sure what I’m trying to say
It could be I’ve lost my way
Though I keep a watch over the distance
Heaven’s no closer than it was yesterday

And the angels are older
They know not to wait up for the sun
They look over my shoulder
At the maps and the drawings of the journey I’ve begun

Now the distance leads me farther on
Though the reasons I once had are gone
I keep thinking I’ll find what I’m looking for
In the sand beneath the dawn

But the angels are older
They can see that the sun’s setting fast
They look over my shoulder
At the vision of paradise contained in the light of the past
And they lay down behind me
To sleep beside the road till the morning has come
Where they know they will find me
With my maps and my faith in the distance
Moving farther on