I can't find myself


Jody Gomez

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Wasn't quite sure where to stick this one, and I think I may have brought it up at OL before, but in a recent post by Landon, he talked about listening to music:

As I was listening I became amazed at how what used to impress me now just reminds me of what was wrong with a huge segment of my life

This reminded me of a Cure song called Lost. What the song is about, is climbing on stage night after night, and having to relive songs that were written years, or in Robert Smith's case, even decades ago. When I first heard this song, I thought back to old poems I had written, and indeed I was confronted with a stranger. I could recall the emotions, but psycho-epistemologically, the words I had written were no longer emotionally alive, but only a recollection. How many of you out there, have written poems, or journal entries, or music about a significant emotional experience from your past, only to stare at it strangely today? Especially, for those of you musicians such as Roger B. or MSK, who may play songs today that were brought about by emotions from a long distant yesterday. Do you have to try to step back into that distant passion, to try and relive it, or is it a rote activity? This was how that Cure song states it:

And I stare...

As I play out the passion of a stranger in love

Letting go of the time

In this other world that spins around for one

And I'm not sure where I am...

Would she know it was a lie?

So happy and so young...

And I stare... But...

I can't find myself

...I got lost in someone else.

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Jody, I have a very vivid connection with the things I've written. When I pick up a letter I wrote long ago, one I had forgotten about, my mind quickly reforms around the context in which I wrote it. This is also true of songs I've written. I even remember where I wrote the songs, and how the piano felt when I was writing it.

As for my daily grind music playing at Disneyland, that stuff is rote, and I am on automatic pilot nearly all the time, even when doing our sit-down, reading sets. It's all memorized or nearly so. I'm like the centipede -- when I try to focus on the memorized music, I trip up. My brain is off thinking about something I'm truly interested in. Occasionally, I monitor my face muscles or breathing to make sure I'm physically on track. Occasionally, I look around at the people. Mostly I just "go somewhere else," and before I know it, the set is over, and we go down to the band room where I can get some real work done. :-)

Also occasionally, we get to do something new, or a jazz tune that requires some creative process, and I crank up the focus on my playing at that point. Far too seldom, I get to play with one of the other groups at DL -- a group I am going on tour with this weekend for 2 weeks in Arizona -- and it is sheer delight. I focus and am engaged and fulfilled. Needless to say, I don't get much philosophizing done when I'm playing with that group -- but I don't mind it! :-)

REB

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I relate a little too well to the whole thing (it's actually the reason I was afraid to respond the first time you posted it).

The funny thing with me is comics were always my priority until I turned about 15. At that point I just got sick of the teasing, I'd also been slowly getting into music. At first I was just into hard rock (it had been mildly forbidden in my house at a younger age) but my timing was off. Grunge was what was coming into vogue so I always had a hard time finding what I wanted. Around this time I also started learning guitar.

I had a small group of friends at that age and many of them were also interested in doing a musical project. If you've never tried getting a group of non-musicians slowly developing into, OK no lying to myself, pseudo musicians (I know a little music theory but not enough to actually help) it's a funny process. We had a revolving group of about 3-6 people about 90% of us wanted to play guitar (I got it hands down off the bat based on the facts that A: I had a guitar B: I had a basic understanding of how to do some things with it by the time we were discussing this).

The big problem was by the time we had the first thing slightly resembling a band, all of us had started developing our tastes. I had one of the two strongest personalities... the other one had [Norton] (and to my knowledge still has, but now I think he's proud of it) little musical ability. There was another guy [bob] with some equipment who was also a strong musician, and the final guy [Donovon] who made up the group was my best friend from elementary school that had a steeper learning curve than us (he was left handed so learning guitar became a lot harder for him).

Our tastes went as follows.

I was getting heavier into harder and harder forms of heavy metal (typified by bands such as type o negative, emperor, and cradle of filth

Norton who had started as a fan of grunge was becoming an industrial fan (Nine Inch Nails, Nitzer Ebb, Throbbing Gristle, Skinny Puppy)

Bob was then and had always been a huge fan of straight pop music

(Sheryl Crow, Joan Osbourne etc)

and Donovon had been into typical grunge but was getting into classic rock

(Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix, Smashing Pumpkins etc)

to non rock fans these differences might seem superficial but to us at that young age they were an insurmountable barrier.

Around this time I met the person who became my life's main musical partner Mike.

Around this time he was getting into the same type of music I was (Black Metal)... it was still kind of new and nobody had really heard of it yet, so it was kind of cool to find someone I could relate to on that level.

Black Metal music is typified by angry undisciplined noise transposed against haunting melodies (at least the stuff I liked), and satanically themed lyrics. It is also typified by the fact that most practitioners of this style of music wear black and white face paint (corpse paint), black leather, spikes, boots, and lots of black in general. Perfect little niche for a guy who had a hard time operating in his own skin. I took the name Lobo-Centro (ironically from bad Portuguese) and took to always wearing corpse paint every time I could get away with it. It was like putting on an identity, a big scary identity. When I look back I can tell I was thinking "If they're scared of me, they can't hurt me."

We proceeded to write, slack off, slack off some more and slack off. Main reason being we had each other to operate with... but you need at least three members for a rock band (guitar, bass and drums with at least one person doubling on vocals). We tried to spend time writing and practicing, but it kills your ambition when you know it's not going anywhere.

We got together and broke up several times through HS and College and I put it before a lot of my priorities (which is sad with as little as we were accomplishing).

For a while we did things on our own. Mike started a punk/metal project with a coworker who played drums... I started a thrash metal band with some people I'd met at school. I kind of operated as band leader but I wasn't very good at it, I wrote all the songs and took care of getting the transcriptions for covers we wanted to do. The fact that I neglected a lot of important factors lead to the band imploding... but Mike's band needed a bass player.

Around this time we had a few good shows and I started getting a little more comfortable in my skin (I took the name Land-O-Lakes this time around). The approach of this band was different from the straight anger and blasphemy approach from my older bands. The approach to the lyrics in this band tended to be twofold... Charlie the drummer usually wrote political songs going through typical anarchist bromides, Mike wrote pornographically humorous songs.

After a while this got to us and we wound up reorganizing without him.

Around this time I had a lot of bad things happen. My dad finally died from cancer. I had a major blow up with my old clique (the people I wanted to start the original band with and various others involved with the group). I had a courtship that ended in disaster. I also broke down and dropped out of business school. I originally started with the school with the goal of starting a record store... after I decided against that there weren't really any majors that appealed to me at the school and I was getting burned out on not being challenged. And I'd managed to help start another band which imploded.

From the last band I took one of the members [Jamie] back to Mike and we started over. We kept his lyrical approach, went a little lighter with the music, and I got to start writing lyrics again. I tried to keep it humorous but when I look back all I see is pure venom. Resentment for my perpetual band situation, resentment for people I'd had fallings out with and just resentment at life in general.

Jamie was nice to have around I was able to write with him better than with Mike (kind of just nurtured my negativity though). But I got one much more important thing from him though. He wound up introducing me to Amy.

The first thing I was told was about some of the worst things her schizophrenia had lead her to do (he wanted her for himself... but that's not what she wanted). But when I finally met her she was just a total ray of sunshine. Intelligent, insightful, irresistibly cute, just sweet and positive.

In short the opposite of pretty much everyone I'd been associating with up to that point.

She has always been encouraging of what is really important to me, so at first she went out of her way to help me on band matters, that's where the cracks started to show.

The problem is I'd been pouring myself into these musical projects. Showed up at every practice. Learned every song as fast and efficiently As I could. Contributed when I could. Went to shows every weekend to network and get bookings for new shows.

Meanwhile Mike had always had some issues on how he ran the band and they just became more noticeable at this point. He didn't work hard to get shows booked, got mad when I tried so hard sometimes. Complained through every show all the way through. Spent large portions of money on recording, and next to no time or effort on promotion. It just started to hit me how much like a vacuum the band had become.

Around this time Amy was encouraging my returning affection for comics (even going as far as pitching Frontier War to me). And it hit me that it was time to get rid of the last part of my false skin.

It felt good to look at something I'd written and not see it marked by nihilism, misogyny, and hatred. I almost didn't even know I was capable of it anymore... but I was happy to find out.

It still disturbs me a little when I listen to anything I've recorded... but I don't think it's much of a problem anymore

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