School was cancelled again today and they’ve already called it for tomorrow. It’s supposed to get down to -15 degrees tonight, and that’s not even with the wind chill factor. I stayed home as well. I probably could’ve made it into work, but what was the point? No trucks were running today so we didn’t get any deliveries. I would’ve been sitting at my desk trolling the internet for albums I shouldn’t buy and guitars I can’t afford. Such is the life of the music obsessive. So on this day off I head downstairs and begin transferring songs from my 4-track cassette recorder to my digital mixer so I can master these songs and ready them for a 4-song e.p. under the sunnydaymassacre moniker. This is the part I love about the music process. The mixing, tweaking, panning, mastering, sequencing…all the little things that add up to one big thing. After spending an hour or so downstairs I came up to find my daughter applying make-up to my son’s face. Not pretty make-up, but dead, zombie make-up. He looked like a ghoulish mess; dark rings under his eyes, Geisha-white face cream, and gory, gory blood splatter. I’m a huge fan of horror and gore, and those kids made their dad proud.
So, I started thinking about make believe and role playing and all the jazz. What I was doing down in my basement studio really isn’t much different that what my kids were doing in my dining room, applying gore and pancaking make-up on my son’s face. I certainly identify myself as a musician and songwriter, but really when I go down there and mix and master, make funny faces when I’m playing my guitar or beating the drums it’s just an adult version of make believe. I do that in my spare time. When real life allows, and fortunately real life can afford me a few hours out of the week to play “music guy”. A good friend of mine and excellent songwriter himself has told me on more than one occasion that being a musician while also having a full-time job, family, mortgage, and bills is like pretend for adults. For a little bit of time you can hang up the work coat and put on your beat-up old zip up sweater and take the trolley to the land of make believe. You can lose yourself for a bit in the role-playing game called rock ‘n roll.
That may sound kind of weird, and honestly it’s weird typing it. But if I’m being completely honest with myself then that’s exactly what all of this is. Here’s the thing, it’s okay to play these games as adults. Hell, I think it’s damn healthy. I think when you lose the ability to make believe you lose the ability to truly love life. You have to have some sort of outlet. A blow hole to let off some of that steam life tends to build up in you. You find something to pour your creative side into and make something, or make something up. It can be anything, and you don’t have to be good at it. I tend to think I know a thing or two about writing songs and playing instruments, so my make believe actually results in art. But if you dig video games, comics, paint-by-numbers, gardening, topiary, crocheting, or stamp collecting then you love make believe. You love role-playing(and that doesn’t always involve the bedroom, a nurse outfit, and a policeman handcuffs you perv!). It’s finding that link back to childhood when make believe and role playing were an integral part of molding ones personality and imagination. I can remember some of the best times I had as a kid were playing on and under the basement stairs with my Star Wars action figures, or building a road out of Golden Books from my bedroom to the living room so my Hot Wheels had something to ride on. They were activities that I didn’t need the input of anyone but myself, and I was only as limited as my mind would keep me. Writing songs and creating melodies, to me it’s no different that setting up battle scenes with action figures and roadways for Hot Wheels. I suppose if someday I could make a living out of writing songs it would turn into something different. Something more serious. But in a weird way I hope that never happens. I’ve never made a living out of something I love, so I can’t say for sure, but I’d imagine a bit of the magic and love would dissolve a bit into the ether. I think I’d give it a shot though if someone were to offer me a job. Just sayin’.
Until then, I’ll continue my elaborate games of make believe in the basement. I’ll also marvel at the joy and thrill my kids get out of theirs; every gory, bloody minute of it.