Sunday 4 February 2024

The Sunday Reflection #5 - All I want from life

What do you want from life? What makes you get up in the morning and do all of the mundane things that we have to do, just to get by? Have you ever wondered how many times in your life you've brushed your teeth, hoovered the hall or put shopping in the cupboard. All of these things we have to do. Then there is work. I'm lucky I enjoy mine, most of the time, but this wasn't alwasys the case, sometime I'd wake up at 6.30am when the alarm clock went and think "God deliver me from this". Usually it was because I was working for or with someone I didn't like. I've actually done things that were quite intersting over the years, but some of the people I was forced to share oxygen with were, shall we say challenging and made it a thoroughly awful way to spend time. Why did I do it? because we have to do these things to pay the bills and hopefully, somewhere in there do a few of the things we enjoy. But when we think about what we want from life is it as simple as trying to spend as little time as possible doing the boring, mundane and unpleasant things, so we can spend as much time as possible doing hedonistic things or is there something deeper that we want which has nothing to do with pleasure?

This week I was mulling over my life. My band did a gig to celebrate 45 years since we first formed. On Wednesday 3rd February, 1979, myself and Pete Conway, who I set up the False Dots with had a meeting with a drummer called Dave Edwards and a singer/guitarist called Mandy Spokes (who was Dave's girlfriend). I'd written a bunch of songs with Pete and we felt we were ready to start a band. We sat down and discussed the music we all liked. As Dave liked the Heartbreakers and felt LAMF was the best album ever, I had no hesitation in asking him to join. We'd already broached the subject, the meeting was to work out what we wanted to do as a band. Myself, Pete, Mandy and Dave could hardly play at all. This meant no virtuoso solo's. Pete and myself were quite serious chaps at the time, so the first bunch of songs were basically rants. They were rubbish. We didn't care, we played them fast and with energy. We'd not even bothered to learn how to properly structure songs. Dave only knew two beats, a fast one and a slow one. But the subject of the meeting was "what do we want as a band?". 

For me, the answer was simple, all I wanted to do was make music. It didn't occur to me then that  it's better when you make good music. I envisaged a life of making music. We naively thought that an audience would magically appear and we'd soon be 'playing the circuit'. It actually took nearly two years before we actually did a gig and by then, I was the only one left! But that confirmed to me that before everything else, I wanted to make music and I added that it must be interesting as well. The challenge though, is when you are talentless, can't really play and have not bothered to learn how to properly write songs, how to make a band successful. It may seem like an idiotic proposition. If I'd had the sense to 'do my homework' I'd probably have got there sooner, but the first year of the band was a lesson in how to do things the wrong way. It wasn't really until 1980, that better musicians, who had done their homeowrk joined, that the band really became what might be considered a band.

But those early months were amazing in a different way. Even though the songs were rubbish and we couldn't play, after a few months, something clicked. I don't know what it was, or if anyone not in the band would have found it listenable, but all of a sudden, this huge energy that you derive when a band 'works' descended on us. The only way I can really describe it, is to say it was like when the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples of Jesus, after he left, and they got the power to speak different languages and lost all their fear. Of course it is different, but when you are in a band and it clicks, you feel like you can do anything. Even the mistakes enhance the show!

I have come to realise that for me making music is something that drives me and gives my life purpose. Now I should say that as I am married, I have a wife and three amazing children, there love and health is paramount. I'd give up anything for them, I try my hardest to make them all happy. I am lucky. The truth is that without music, I wouldn't have met my wife, we met at a False Dots gig in 1985 and clicked straight away. I wouldn't have my kids. There have been times when I was dissillusioned with music. I went from 1990 to around 2000 without playing a guitar at all. ALthough being in a band gives you energy, it can drain you and the 1980's had sapped the love of playing music from me. It seemed as if every time the band was going well, a disaster would befall us. It is hard to explain how you can fall out of love with the thing you love doing most, but I did. 

In some ways this was a good thing. When  we got the band back together in 2000, it was purely for fun. It had never been purely for fun, it had always been serious. When it became 'just for fun' it became a lot better. Maybe it is part of growing up, but I find myself aged 61 where I now have a proper perspective on life. I see where the band fits in. When we do triumphant gigs, as we did last night, it is the best feeling in the world. But I can enjoy the moment because I am surrounded by love in my life. Music is something that has no downside. You can enjoy it, it can get  you through bad times and be the soundtrack to the best times. You hear a song and it takes you back to a special moment. 

What do I want from life? It's actually quite and easy question to answer, I want to be surrounded by love, whilst listening and playing the great soundtrack to my life. It's quite easy really. 

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