It Was 20 Years Ago Today
And it still feels like yesterday: awakening as a songwriter to possess a powerful passion that saved my life.
Riding the peak of a celebrated career that included traveling the world to work with athletes, lecture, and write, suddenly came crashing down. It was a feeling of embarrassment, and sadness, that something so essential remained absent in my life. Healthy food, physical activity, creative thinking, it all seemed uniquely human. But what was clearly lacking, a more important part of life, would be born — uncovered upon awaking that morning of April 14, 2002.
Our earliest ancestors did it, and for generations along the way making music was a special and necessary custom of humans. Yet, until this moment, creating music eluded me. Being a lifelong heavy consumer of music suddenly felt selfish. It felt as though I’d been taking without giving back. All this quickly faded away.
These days, during my midday listening sessions that bring me deep into an alpha, and often theta meditative state, I sometimes listen to some of my own musical recordings. And often, they bring tears of joy.
The power of music goes beyond being a better human, feeling more whole, or giving back. Certainly, the process has ramped up the necessary creativity important for other lifelong endeavors as well, such as writing, research, and communication. Yet, from the onset, being a songwriter unleashed a refreshing feeling, an energy never felt before.
Even early on, the thought of not possessing music was frightening. Imagine preventing a songbird from singing. Over time, my songwriting evolution expanded and improved, based on the feedback from my longtime music mentor producer Rick Rubin. Eventually recording and performing all further fueled the fires.
While creative expression and individuality are powerful natural therapies innate in humans, very few of my songs seemed autobiographical. However, the outpouring of all the arts may simply represent our many different personalities.
Finally feeling a share of humanity, my brave new world was not isolated or alone. It was part of who I was, and who I kept becoming. It all seemed so new with each song, then and now, as if the future kept being foretold.
The notion we are all unique individuals had been a cornerstone of my life’s work long before music. After realizing there were no instructions for writing new songs, the real learning was that the music is always within, it was already me. The feelings, energies, tears, and all else thrusts you onto some stage with a song you perform by only being yourself.
Not that being oneself was always easy before. It would only be amplified with songwriting.
Music is more certain than a fingerprint, more potent than a psychedelic, and able to leap above our busy world, beyond our hidden rainbow of dreams. The birth of every new, never-before-heard song was an original mind-altering moment that furthered its predecessor, never tired, adding even more fuel to the passion. How amazing that a small handful of musical notes can create virtually unlimited melodies; an endless array of newfound songs streaming across our universe.
The amazing journey of many roads would let me encounter other musicians who, rather than pushing some persona on me, encouraged mine to come out. Another music lesson of life. It was a freedom more intense than any ever experienced, one not easily defined by mere words. Instead, simple mathematics expresses it best. And, buried in the fine print of poetic license, is the means to express what was really felt, a first for me; an essence of being human. It would be in the songs.
The song is not the passion, or a potion; the power is the passion hidden in the song, awaiting a shared exposure — a celebration of creation. So, let’s fill our spaces with them every day. Why wait to celebrate anything? Music is the party!
No, I won’t sing happy birthday.