"Yeah runnin' down a dream That never would come to me Workin' on a mystery, goin' wherever it leads I'm runnin' down a dream"
I was singing these and other familiar lyrics last night with 15,999 of my closest friends as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, armed with their six stringed axes, held the crowd hostage from the stage and transported all of us back to 1979.
I love rock and roll.
It was the riffs of Tommy Shaw and Joe Satriani that did it for me. Still to this day, when Blue Collar Man comes on the radio, I always have to bump the volume a few ticks, regardless of who is in the car.
Music was the first dream I really seriously pondered doing. Those sounds the artist could generate from the instrument were the same ones in my head. I thought it must be an incredible satisfaction to have the ability to deliver the song from mental concept to aural reality.
So I took a stab at it. In college I bought a guitar and started learning to play.
Growing up in the community of faith that I did, there wasn’t a high value placed on any kind of technical virtuosity, as it was seen as a distraction from a focus on God by drawing attention to the performer. Musicians I knew, myself included, carried a confliction of guilt, which influenced our attitude toward getting better. If there was no place to perform well in the Church As We Know It, why work at improving?
So I had to allow other artists to do that for me and this is what I recognized at last night’s show.
Steve Winwood started the ball rolling with his rhythm and blues style of tunes. Several times I closed my eyes and envisioned myself playing what I was hearing. My guitar was in his hands and he was playing it for me.
Then Petty and company take the stage, bigger than life. In an instant, I was 17 again and had the chance to make a different decision about music. There was no guilt, no worry about whether or not it was about God or musician. All that was lost as all of us in the arena transcended the ordinary via the extraordinary sound generated by these qualified players.
I often wonder how my life would look different if I hadn’t had that yoke placed on my neck. Would I be a musician instead of a restaurateur? I know it’s a moot point, but I can’t help it. So instead I have to allow others to play the music for me, and who knows, maybe its arrogant of me to think that I could have been that good.
But it’s a hard question not to ask.