Once upon a time, I was a music maker.
I was first a poet.
At age 11, my main Christmas gift was a guitar. Not unlike millions of other kids mesmerized and inspired by the Beatles, I believed I could better express myself musically.
Cradling my guitar, I carefully crafted chords to fit my words.
Composing was a solo act. Yet, I enjoyed harmonizing with a few friends who shared my passion.
While I cited initial credit to the Beatles, clearly, other artists were major influences. For me, Simon and Garfunkel, Neil Diamond, and Peter, Paul, and Mary had a significant impact. I wanted to write songs like theirs, and capture the purity of their sound.
I was blessed to come of age when garage bands and folk groups were not just forming in every neighborhood, but for the most part, were encouraged and supported by parents and educators. School talent shows and “battle of the band” competitions were great outlets and showcases. At one point, even a local Dallas children’s television show offered opportunities. My folk trio (“Saturday’s Children”) was given permission to miss the first half of a school day when we were featured. We also performed at pizza places and the annual Dallas Police picnic.
Between the ages of 12 and probably 15, I practiced, sang, and wrote every day and night, as if it were my job, as though I had a deadline for albums to release. I would stay up late, or wake up, inspired, in the middle of the night, and reach for my guitar, pen and paper.
Fortunately, my mother was understanding – never complaining or chastising me about the late hours and constant music. On the contrary, she was most supportive – probably because my father was a musician. Their divorce before my fourth birthday did not diminish her appreciation of his gifts and talent.
Mom worked as an emergency telephone operator at the Dallas Police Department before the days of 911, when you still had to dial a seven digit phone number. Her position required rotating shifts, and when she was on deep nights, I would often call her to play my newest song, and get her input.
Over the years, I would have close brushes with big breaks. But, nothing ever really materialized – at least, not monetarily. The rewards for me were simply self expression, emotional and almost spiritual. My music held my psyche, my heart, maybe my soul together, when everything else seemed to be falling apart.
Today, when I hear those songs like “Both Sides Now,” “Catch the Wind,” “April, Come She Will,” “As Tears Go By” that were a part of my repertoire, I miss my music.
I miss the me I used to be – the music maker.