Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Happy to be me
When I was young, we moved a lot. My father was always looking for a better home, a better job and with 6 kids in tow, it could not have been easy for him. I know it was not easy for us. I never really had an opportunity to make lifelong friends, or to grow up in one school or to call a community mine. It was my life and it was all I knew. With that life...comes stresses for adults and for the kids who must endure. It wasn’t always peaceful in our home for a lot of reasons but there was one saving grace for me and that was music. Back then it was the radio because we were not allowed to touch any record players. The radio was good and I listened to it every single day. Nixon was president and I was afraid that my older brother Keith would get called up. My parents were fighting all the time. Still no matter was happening, it was the music that saved me.
The songs that found me were songs that filled my heart. I never really knew what some of the lyrics meant but the tones, the guitar, the vocals, filled me at times to the point of tears. I was seven...and I knew that someday music would be a part of my life outside of the radio. The most radio popular song at the time was Jonathan Edwards, Sunshine. The first time I heard it played, it changed me deep inside. I grew in ways that are hard to explain but the song did something to me. I started to understand what boundaries were, how lies hurt and for the first time I heard a generation speak about human rights and civic freedoms. I became the “us” and my parents and anyone their age were the “them”.
I wish I could say that my life at that time was shaped so that the rest of this story would be about the great things I did in the name of humanity. It didn’t exactly go that way. I spent the next twenty years getting into a lot of trouble, abusing myself and not living well at all. I didn’t search out to hurt anyone but when you don’t treat yourself very well, the after shocks can affect those closest to you. Music never left me though and that song has stayed with me all these years along with other songs that moved me through challenging times. I could name them all but it would be a lot of songs and there is not enough room in this entry to list them all.
Fast forward to this past weekend. We hosted a camp with Steve Kaufman, a fantastic Flat Picker and Jonathan Edwards who was teaching a songwriting course titled, "Performance, and the Art of Avoiding a Real Job". The songs he writes are about his life...what's going on in his life, heart and spirit, and mind. It’s hard not to gush and to be honest, I tried to keep it together this weekend, but I did gush. I told the audience a little piece of this story from the stage before Steve and Jonathan went on. That it felt like, after many life challenges and single handedly dismantling my own life 16 years ago, I had been living my life well over the last decade. This concert was the reward for that. Ohio saved me and in a weird way Jonathan saved me, the audience had saved me, Jorma had saved me, my amazing staff continues to save me and my gratitude was overflowing. It is so important that I live in the now and that I am continually grateful for these amazing gifts. I am sharing a picture here of me and Jonathan. To say that I was happy to have a picture with him is just not saying how I really felt. I sent it to my sister in Maine and said, “Do I look happy?” She said I looked like I had just had sex. I had to laugh…..my face shows my joy not so much for standing there with someone whom I admire musically, but it is that I am ultimately satisfied with where I am.
Posted by Vanessa Lillian at 8:05 AM
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