At age 17, I was dreaming big. I sat in front of a makeshift stereo “system”, which I had bought from a friend for little money and played along with records of Pink Floyd, Kansas, Jimi Hendrix, and later also Toto, Steely Dan, Anita Baker, Chaka Khan, Earth, Wind & Fire, George Benson and many more. Every time when I had set enough money aside from working small jobs, gigs or summer jobs so that I was able to afford another album, which typically sold at 20 German Mark or 15,- in case of a special sale, I’d ask a friend, who lived in the nearest bigger city and who was lucky to possess both a driving license and a car, to get me the record of choice and hand it to me on the weekend. You can hardly call the number of records accumulating overtime a collection. But I arrived at a few dozen long player vinyls by the end of High School of only those records, I really wanted to possess. You’d typically mooch the rest by taping friends’ records on cassette. Noone could have thought of digital music at the time or playing devices that would hold and play back the equivalent of the entire music catalogue of a larger music distributor. Anyway, I was quite o.k. with the selection of music that I’d possess over time. Sometimes, there was a good radio show you could tape, even if there was some talking in between. But the larger part of a desired song would usually be audible without interruption.
So I’d often sit for hours on end in my little room adjacent to the den of my parents’ house and practiced those guitar parts I wanted to be able to play for as long as it took me until I thought I had come close enough that my fellow band members would approve, if they heard me play it. Not that they’d really be interested in what else I’d practice other than the material we had agreed on for the band. And since they showed little to no interest in my practicing, I had no real reason or incentive for practicing “outside” material. So I’d imagine a fictitious “test situation”. And it looked something like this: Every time I’d hold one of those coveted albums in my hands and after I had carefully removed the cellophane foil from the cover, taken out the inner leaflet holding the proper vinyl, I’d read the liner notes with almost pious attention even before playing the first song, those notes that informed the listener who had participated in the recording, what engineer had actually done the taping and producing and from what songwriter’s quill the song had emanated. Oftentimes there were photographs from the recording sessions, which showed the musicians playing their instrument with utter focus. I envisioned myself in their place, listening to the song via headphones while playing the expected instrumental part and while the recording engineer would operate faders, knobs and buttons on the mixing console. I envisioned being part of a recording that would later be listened to by maybe millions of people and hundreds of times, which would be played on the radio, on TV, in discotheques, restaurants, at parties or in the personal ambience of someone’s home. I tried to imagine the pride and the personal triumph which I believed would come from reading my name among all these ace studio cats one day. I dreamed of a feeling of personal significance and respect of fellow musicians, of a feeling of having accomplished something of personal significance and the deep feeling of reward and contentedness I assumed to come from all that. I wanted to be a part of that world! But this is how it goes with dreaming: In your imagination they are perfect and impart the aspired goals to a T. However, there’s hardly anything working out perfectly in the real world. And the idea only entered my mind much later that my musicianship would have to comprise about ten times as much as the little repertoire I had taught myself – with some passion, dedication and consistence, agreed, but still fairly limited. Ok, I was down to earth enough even back then to know that the odds for actually making such high flying dreams become a reality were rather marginal. But I afforded myself the big picture of what I found worth aspiring back then. More than anything else though, I had always been dreaming of owning my own recording studio chock full with the latest in recording technology at the time, so I’d always have as much time for composing and recording as the “Muse” would pose and so that I’d be in the position of calling and booking that particular musician or artist from a thoroughly filled filofax, who would literally set the tone of any given instrumental or vocal part of the song in question and should the song so require. Because there are experts for every variation or style of playing, similar to actors I suppose, where you have personalities who are perfect for bringing certain character types to the screen. And the same goes for female and male vocalists, of course, who have coined their particular brand of singing with the performances they delivered in the past. Those are the ones you want to give a call!
I don’t think, any of this is going to work out in this life, though. I don’t hear any music inside of me any more. In fact, I barely listen to music any more at all. This softly jittering string seems mute now. Over. I was never in the position of actually being able to afford my own studio and now it’s now less likely than ever. But these are secondary aspects. Where there’s a goal, there is a way to achieve it. I have always subscribed to this motto during most of my adult and professional life. But where there’s no more willpower, passion, goal or whatever – there can be no way.
Well… that’s how it goes with dreaming. At least for me.
wesbound, July 2012
Here are some cats you really know their stuff: