A friend of mine fulfilled a dream yesterday evening. After a many months’ work, at the age of forty, she had her first gig as a singer with a rock band in a bar.
You won’t see Roadmax replacing Lady Gaga any time soon at the top of the hit parade. They’re a group of middle-aged people doing something for fun, because they enjoy it, and are prepared to put work and discipline into their pastime, taking time from all the other things that life demands and offers to put their dream into reality. They played two sets, maybe an hour and a quarter all together, rock classics from Credence Clearwater Revival, Born to be Wild, Good Golly Miss Molly, Paranoid, Rockin’ all over the World (come to think of it, that’s a John Fogerty song too) and some of their own stuff. The full bar (many of those present friends of the band) rocked and, if they weren’t paid anything for the evening, a hat was passed around and a nice little sum came together to help them realise their next, absolutely necessary purchase; their own PA.
I can feel especially happy for Anja because I know what that feeling is like – to stand in front of an audience, your heart beating hard, and then letting it go, the music you and the others have worked on for so long finally meshing, bringing you together to make something good, something beautiful and then you’ve got the crowd with you and you’re spinning that dream, making that space carried by rhythm and melody, outside of time, free and structured, the combination of all kinds of paradoxes which music so necessarily and effortlessly (unless you’re one of the ones who had to do all the practicing) is. I know that feeling; the excitement, the buzz when it works, the band is one and you’ve managed the bridge which was such a bitch in practice and, oh yes, you got that high note and held it and the crowd is rocking to the beat as you relax enough to turn and grin to someone else in the band and then you get wonderfully lost in the song again as it carries you and you carry it to the last chord and then there’s applause and cheers … Yes! Okay, you’re not Bono and there’re only seventy or eighty in the audience and you fluffed one or two chords but, right now that doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter at all.
Music gives the lie to the niggardly reduction of everything to economic factors which so rules our world today. Of course there’s a multi-billion dollar music industry worldwide, but that’s just lots of people trying to make a living, a few earning astronomically high sums of money and quite a few more ripping everyone off. But that’s life, in the end it has nothing to do with music itself. Whether you make it, or just enjoy it, it’s the proof that there’s much more to life than just what anything costs and whether you can pay for it, whether as an individual or as a society. And, in this vein, perhaps the economists and accountants and management consultants and human resources people should remember where the word “performance” originally came from. Music won’t solve your problems but it can make you feel better and would you really want to be without it? Something so utterly useless and so absolutely, vitally necessary – the union, sublimation, transcendence of freedom and form; in a word, beauty. Rock on, Anja!