Strangeways, Here We Come...

This is gonna be weird. I know it is for me.  I have just been out walking around this strange neighbourhood in Ottawa where I find myself living currently. Weeks away from my 50th birthday in a strange town, walking streets I’ve never been down. Listening to the Smiths for the twentieth time in the last four days. And here is the strange part - I’m loving listening to music. 

I was drawn to music as a teenager as an escape from a life I had little control over, My dad was an alcoholic, my mother a wreck trying to hold it all together. My older sister wanted nothing to do with me as I was an annoying little brother who tagged around everywhere she went. My younger sister was too young to be a real part of my life, aside from the fact that she was a child living under the same roof. I was bullied in school regularly, I was way too tall and skinny for sports, and I guess I was an easy target for teasing.  I grew a thick skin and most people never saw it.

Don’t get me wrong. It was far from all bad. In fact way better than most. Way better than some. There I go again justifying… Regardless, music transported me to a safe place. A place where I could deal with the teenage emotions that were raging around in my somewhat complex life. Music settled it all down. Bands like Pink Floyd, REM, the Smiths, U2, Minor Threat and Husker Du were important artists for me. For years I listened and listened more. The music kept me company on long bus rides around St.John’s.  At home it drowned out the rest of the house.  Then I realized I could play music and be a part of this experience. Then I listened and listened some more. Learned some and learned some more. Started creating and continued creating.  It became my life, it became my job, it became my everything… 

Here’s the thing.  Somewhere along the way I stopped listening and getting lost the way I had when I first discovered music. I listened for arrangements, lyrics and production values. I listened for technique and colour. There have been times when I’ve listened and appreciated for a variety of reasons but not the same as what drew me to the music in the first place. I feel inspired and incredibly lucky to remember this special relationship and to find what drew me to music initially. 

Today I am lost once more. Things are messed up - a bit. Not as bad as some. Better than a lot but ... tonight I walked and listened to Morrissey and Marr and the rest of the band and they took me to “that” place. A place I thought I’d forgotten about. A place I haven’t been in a long time. A place that saved me once and all indications lead me to believe that it might be a place that is going to get me through all of this.

Perhaps this remembering will lead to some new material of my own that will be inspired enough to work its way into someone else’s life and give them some comfort.

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