Now, I Know Why the Werewolf Howls

klove_werewolf.jpgUp far too late into the wee hours of the morning, an all too often zone in which I find myself, I found myself considering Angelou’s story and its parallel to the life of not only my own, but to many musicians.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a 1969 autobiographical novel that focuses on the early years of author Maya Angelou’s life. Written at the end of the American Civil Rights movement, the work explores the isolation and loneliness Angelou faced.

Up far too late into the wee hours of the morning, an all too often zone in which I find myself, on one of these occasions, I also found myself considering Angelou’s story and its parallel to the life of not only my own, but to many musicians.

As a musician, it is more often than not difficult to find a true friend aside from another musician (actually, the same is often true within the music community itself). But, for this article’s purpose, as an example, non musicians seem to either view musicians as demigods due to their talent, or they are deemed freaks of society (a few choice fans may view us as both…simultaneously).

After all, as musicians, we do not fit the status quo…the "blend in business as usual" scenario…the all-encompassing process of graduating high school, going to college, and getting a job that we will retire from 40 years later.

No, even if we attend and complete college, then take a job in a local school district teaching the school band or choir in the interest of "normalizing" our lives, inevitably, we will be placed in society’s one of two "demigod" or "freak" molds (again, perhaps, both simultaneously) dare we ever exit our nether world to perform publicly to a crowd of more than one.

In my own personal experience, as well as the experiences of my musician friends/acquaintances, if you have been a musician for most of your life, it can be said that your existence within the world of music supersedes your playing an instrument, singing, performing, or composing.

It is likely and, otherwise, a spiritual "calling" that will not let go. And, it can easily be said to have an inescapable hold on you…a blessing in a sense, yet and perhaps, even a curse…much like that dreaded 30-day interval of the silvery moon that your friendly neighborhood werewolf must endure and survive lifelong without bringing undue attention to himself or herself.

And, it is a unique level of human spirituality that most non artists cannot and will likely never comprehend. In comparison to Ms. Angelou’s work, along with our musical talent and the enjoyment of being blessed as a creator, comes a slightly seething loneliness that, in turn, maintains our honesty to our "calling."

Regardless of your favorite genre that you dare not admit chose you, as opposed to your choosing it, you will likely agree that the common elements of anger, sadness, and other related and indifferent emotions can be derived from, at least, one song of any given artist’s repertoire, whether that artist is Enya with her "Caribbean Blue" (Celtic), Roy Ayer’s "Searching" (Jazz)

Sting’s "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You" (Progressive Rock), Jill Scott’s "Golden" (RnB), or any of Eryka Badu’s works, as well as those of many other artists.

And, as sad as it is for me to admit it, I have also found that many artists (including myself) can remain too close, too long to their music without a vitally necessary unrelated diversion to overtly distract and save us from instituting a "Kurt Cobain." Because, music has a uniquely powerful way of forcing a suppressed (and, often painful) personal history to the surface for re-evaluation and analysis. And, as musicians, and because we are creators, this is, possibly, the reason for our high degree of emotional response to it more so than non artists.

While this article has been intended to serve as "body filler," it also serves me well as a few moments of self-reflective therapy, as my spirit eclipse’s the oh so soothing albeit depressing sounds of Ms. Lalah Hathaway’s vocal lead (lyrics by Ms. Bette Midler) that cascade Mr. Joe Sample’s rendition of Ms. Midler’s "When Your Life Was Low" (it’s on my playlist on my MySpace page, but don’t listen too often, lest ye fall victim to and become a might painfully enthralled, such as my wretched soul hath done time and time again).

Ignorance is bliss, and I often wish that I remained a non artist who had never learned what I now know about creating music, its mechanics, or its intricacies, such as how to arrange a particular chord inversion or a drum part’s backbeat that not only evokes memories and/or emotions that either make me want to soar higher than Kal El could ever dream of doing, or seek the closest gunshop for "El Fin," but which either can draw the positive or negative tear from a too often dry bloody eye.

And, after having self-analyzed, self-explored and self-purged, I too now know (and understand succinctly) why the werewolf howls at the first light of the beautiful silvery moon. | Kenny Love

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