Thursday, November 9, 2017

The unsung heroes of our lives

You know, we all idolize the wrong people.

As kids, we plastered posters on our walls and bought magazines of our 'fav' pop or movie star.

Now as adults, we look at soulless, gutless, mind numbing TV shows and movies. Horrid 'reality' shows about disfunctional housewives, people with way too much money wasting it on nonsense and families that most of us would never emulate in our own home (the Kardashians for example).

And we spend hours wasting away, wishing our lives could be like this person or that, when we should turn off the TV and spend time with those closest to us - our family and loved ones. These are the people that will stick with you through it all. Not those damn movie stars.

The people who have helped mould us when we were younger - our teachers, get no credit at all.

Teachers are the building block of any society. Teachers make the leaders of tomorrow.

They should be the real heroes, not any 'star', because we try to look up to these people and they don't even know who we are, they know nothing about us and in truth, we don't know anything about them either, only the facade that they put forward on TV, on social media and it really is a very good lie.

Most of the people we idolize and admire live very messed up lives. Do you want to live a messed up life?

Start admiring those people who know you and want the best for you.

They are the real heroes of your life.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Gord Downie

When I first heard these lyrics 'He said I fabulously rich, c'mon just let's go, she kind of bit her lip, jeez I don't know', I was hooked.

That was the summer of 1995 and the band was Tragically Hip, a group out of Ontario, Canada.

The album was 'Day for Night' and I played that tape so much that it warped. I rewound that first track 'Grace, too' over and over until I knew every little bass tweak and vocal nuance that Downie made  coming down to the end. There were no lyrics at the end but Downie was sort of, well, it's hard to describe unless you listen to the song. He wasn't saying 'Yea, or Awww' or anything audible for that matter, but somehow the song has so much intensity at the end. Not to mention it was so bloody groovy.

I just fell in-love with that song, the album and the band after that.

I bought a few more albums and they unofficially became my summer Canadian fling. There was something gritty and easy-going about them and I loved Downie's lyrics and his way of just saying words almost as if he was having a conversation with me, the listener.

My one regret is that I never saw them live.

My heart broke last year when I found out he was diagnosed with cancer, and like so many music lovers, musicians and Canadians all around the world, we all felt a huge sense of loss when Gord passed away on October 17th, 2017.

So many great musicians have left us over the past few years and while I shudder to think of who we're left with, I know one thing for sure, Gord Downie's musical legacy will forever live on.

It is a huge loss for the Hip, it is a huge loss for Canada. Gord Downie will forever be one of the great Canadian songwriters. And though it will never ease the pain for your family, I just wanted to say 'thanks so much for the music, Gord, may you rest in peace and may God be with you on your next journey'.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The will to carry on

The last few years have been rather unprecedented for me because of the number of personal losses that I have experienced.

I have lost schoolmates and friends, my father, my longest standing friend as well as a few musician comrades along the way.

Some have died from natural causes and a couple of friends were murdered. Some were sudden deaths,  others like in the case of my father, it was watching him slip away three weeks after his first and only surgery.

Just recently in May of this year my favourite Grunge singer - Chris Cornell committed suicide, he was only 52 but then on what would have been his 53rd birthday, July 20th, another singer - Chester Bennington committed suicide by hanging as well.

I can't help but feel that maybe I was naive for so long, thinking that all my friends, family and comrades and people that I admired would always be around me all my life. Or if not around me, perhaps in my life one way or another.

If anything, what I have learned over these last three years is that life is absolutely impermanent, always changing and nothing can ever be taken for granted, because as the saying goes 'here today, gone tomorrow'.

I do find that I have a hard time with death, I go through initial periods of shock and grief and then I try to carry on, but then there are days where I sit and think about all who have gone to the other side and I think that life is just not the same and that I don't know how to continue, I don't know how to be happy sometimes.

Perhaps it never will be the same, and that's the sad part.

The hard part is getting up everyday and putting my best foot forward, not because I want to, but because those who have gone would want me to 'keep on keeping on', as Al Green would say.

And that is the hardest part of life, keeping on when you have less and less loved ones to travel that road of life with you.

But, I'm starting a new chapter in my life soon and I have to think that this is the most important part of my life, and yes life will never be the same, but I have so much more to give and to live for, I have so much to look forward to, that I just can't give up now, I can't stop trying now.

I remember the line from a very sad movie about a child kidnapping once, the choir sang 'If the song is to be sung, then we must keep on singing'.

So, in loving memory of Damien So'Brien, Rawle Francis, Paul Emmanuel, Andrew Moffat, Justin Lee and George Elias; I gotta keep doing what I do.

May you all rest in peace.

Thank you for being a part of my life.

God be with you.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The problem with music

You see, the problem with music is this - we musicians want to spend our lives making music, we want to be those people that we grew up listening to, we want to be our idols, our heroes.

We want to be big rock stars, touring the globe, jet setting all around the world, jumping from stage to stage, tour bus to tour bus. We want to be rich, have a big house with a pool.

We want it all.

The problem is, most of us don't have a clue how to get there.

The problem is, we have no idea, looking in from the outside what it all entails, what is involved in getting to that point - how many years it takes to make it 'big', how many shows need to be played for minimal or no pay at all, we have no idea what's the right combination or formula of fans, shows, merchandise, marketing, record sales, etc needed to make a decent living off of music.

Then if we get to that point where money starts coming in, how many extra players are involved - publishers, publicists, managers, booking agents, record labels? And what is their cut from our piece of the pie?

The music biz is not exactly a tried and true formula - if you do x, then y will happen. It's not like that at all.

It's not like a regular job that you go to school for, if you study chemistry you will get a job in a chemical field. It's not fool-proof at all.

The music industry is not as well laid out as that. It's a maze, with many paths and the problem is, all us amateur or semi-pro musicians are all trying to get a piece of the pie, but we might not have the right utensils, heck even many pro musicians are struggling financially.

And how do you continue in a field of work if the income is haphazard and sporadic? Which other professional field do you ever hear of people selling or giving away their services for 'exposure'? Do you ever hear of a newly graduated doctor or lawyer giving away their services cheaply?

And you think that would discourage everyone to get out of this business, but no, the opposite is happening.

And the question is 'why'?

And the only answer is that the love of music, is irrational at best.

And perhaps all us musicians are irrational at best.

And maybe that's our problem.

But how else do we solve it? It's either we get off the boat, or just keep on with it.

Whether we make it big, or just tinkle away in our rooms, music is such a joy.

Cesco Emmanuel Demo Reel

Monday, May 8, 2017

Disappointment and the Headless Chickens

I remember reading in the bible that if you put your trust in man, you will always be disappointed. Put your trust in God, and he will never fail you. Everyone will disappoint you - family, friends, loved ones. Even the ones you don't expect.

A friend of mine keeps on saying that he is in the fight of his life and nobody seems to care. It's hard to hear when he says that because people do genuinely care, it's just that sometimes they don't know how to help.

Somedays I myself feel as if I am in the fight of my life. Fight to make ends meet, fight to stay positive and keep on sending out those resumes for that 'perfect job', fight to keep on practicing guitar although most days I keep on hearing those voices in my head saying that I will never get better at certain flaws in my playing - an old high-school friend of mine, another great guitarist told me that we have technically missed the boat, that we should have been wood-shedding in our teens, not in our forties, that it is too late to master the guitar.

Maybe it's the stubborn side of me, but I'm still trying to perfect the guitar.

Trying to fail or failing to try?

But it is hard to keep trying when there's no sign of improvement, when there's no blue skies on the horizon. It's hard when you almost seem to run out of options. When you keep on trying different things but the end result is always the same - failure, no vacancy, no work, nothing.

I wonder if most people feel like headless chickens? Just going through the day. wishing they could get a better pay or even a decent job but they don't know where to start? Knowing that they have potential but they don't know how to realize it. I wonder if most people are bitter because they too, tried so hard but fell flat on their face many a time. I often wonder if the average person is just going through the motions of life, wishing for something better, but with no real clue of how to get to that better place.

I know the old saying, 'You only fail when you stop trying'.

But I tell you my dear reader, it is truly hard to keeping trying after multiple failures, and I do think it's only natural to want to just give up and just be satisfied with just 'existing'.

Maybe that's whom most people are anyway - just disappointed headless chickens that have lost the fight and are fed up getting back in the ring.

'The act of a noble warrior, who lost the will to fight' - 'The Pass' by RUSH.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Dancing on the quicksand

Sometimes life seems to spiral out of control and no matter what you do, you can't seem to get the hang of it.

Things just come from all sides - financial woes, job loss, illness and death of family and friends. The minute you recover from one thing you get hit with something else. It's almost as if you're cursed. It's almost as if somebody really big out there hates you and is throwing a shit-storm your way.

Of course as if to make matters more damning, anything you try seems to only work a little bit, or worse yet, fail outright. And you look around and other people are getting ahead just fine, but you are just seeing hell.

Oh sure, you can blame the economy, you can blame a number of things on circumstance and mere coincidence. You can blame yourself for not having enough foresight, hindsight, sheer common sense and intuition. But what good is that doing? Can any of that turn back the clock? Save you the painful experience?

Did you think you were somehow immune to the crappy part of life? Did you think that bad things happened to other people but not you? Did you think about how you could not even imagine any of this nonsense happening but it is indeed in fact, happening?

Do you think maybe you should leave it in the hands of God and forget about it only for something else to compound matters and bring you right back to the #1 square?

How much do you blame yourself? How much do you blame others?

Just how much of this has affected you physically? Mentally? How much of this has been imbedded in your subconscious? How has your sleep been affected?

Is this a spiritual battle? Are evil spirits lurking around just waiting to devour a weak version of yourself?

What is really the truth behind the entire situation? And more importantly, when will all of this end?

So what do you do? Stop trying? Give up? Roll over and play dead and hope that whatever this is, will eventually, somehow, magically pass?

The question is still waiting to be answered. The script is still being written.

So far the other side is still winning, confusion reigns supreme.

But our protagonist is hanging on tooth and nail.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Early on a morning

Early on a morning, a few days a week now, I find myself awake before my 5AM alarm goes off.

Strange but it's always the same time - 4.45AM.

I get up, shave, grab a quick shower and head out the door to a place I've seldom gone to before on a weekday.

In the past, I have woken up early to practice guitar before the sun comes up, or to read, or to cook.

But then I also go through phases where I cannot get up when my alarm goes off, I figure that's when my mind is too tired to function and I really do need sleep.

However, nowadays I'm getting up early to head to morning mass.

Before the dawn breaks is really the best time of day in my opinion. The world is still half asleep and for a brief moment, everything looks peaceful and pristine. The sun comes up over the mountains and the air is cool and smooth.

I never really thought about morning mass before, I always saw myself as a devout catholic, but a former girlfriend recommended I try going, to start the day off on a good note. And she was absolutely right.

I can honestly say that after a few weeks of going to morning mass at 5.45AM, it is the best way to begin a new day. I almost feel as if I'm going to visit an old friend at his place, that thought popped in my head last week - I'm going to see my best friend Jesus at his house, just for a half an hour.

In all sincerity, my mind does drift sometimes during the mass, but most times I'm either asking/thanking God for something.

I feel different - more at peace, and I can't describe it, because I don't think I ever felt this way before.  Maybe this is the peace that the world cannot give? Maybe that's been missing in my life.

I know now that whatever comes my way, that God is in charge, and that Jesus is with me and is riding all my storms out with me.

Thank you my dear friend Jesus.