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Five Things

1.                   Music is bigger than us.

Peter Buck (the guitarist and modern philosopher of R.E.M.) once said, “You should be involved in listening to the music in the way that we're involved in making it.” It's true. We often don't consider all that went into the creation of our favorite records – the time, the conflict, the frustration, and the passion. Only once we do, picking apart the smallest and most trivial seeming notes and phrases, can we take a step back and realize the beauty of the big picture. While that beauty owes everything to the people who made it possible, somehow it becomes something more than an earthly creation and more like a miracle that's out of our hands.


2.                   Nothing is sacred.

We all know The Beatles. We all love The Beatles, too, but perhaps only because we're taught that it's wrong to believe John, Paul, George and Ringo were anything but God-sent beings of pure musical perfection (more on that later). That's exactly why when, in 1984, a Minneapolis brat punk band wanted to call their album Let It Be, the label almost didn't let them do it. Why not? Well, it's simple. Let It Be was by no coincidence also the title of a very well-known Beatles album, and to compare your record to it in such an obvious way wasn't just silly – it was blasphemy. Nonetheless, they did it. Why? Well, it's simple. Sure, they understood the importance of The Beatles, but they also understood that music, as well as well as life, isn't about sacredness – it's about being human.


3.                   Don't surrender to norms.

Sometimes, the right thing to do is also the hardest thing, and the self you know you want to be happens to be the opposite of what the all-powerful “they” demand of you. Take a good look at Freddie Mercury, for example, who expressed himself honestly despite closed – minded homophobia in society, or Patti Smith, who carefully studied the expected role of female musicians in order to completely destroy it. In doing these things, Mercury, Smith, and countless others not only freed themselves but showed others that they could do the same.


4.                   Imperfection is perfect.

Countless times, Paul Westerberg (guitarist and vocalist of The Replacements as well as favorite songwriter of mine) has been described has having a “cracked sidewalk of a voice.” That's not much of a compliment, but it's entirely true. If you've heard it, you very likely agree with such a statement. Yet, oddly and magically, it just works. How, no one really knows for sure, but one thing is for certain: that sidewalk is as broken as it is honest, and in the end, honesty is a whole lot more meaningful than perfection. If that's not comforting, I don't know what is. How much simpler would just about everything be if we all stopped worrying about flawlessness long enough to show some sincerity?


5.                   You can totally do it.

Upon being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (more like shame, but that's beside the point) Dave Grohl, who's played in Nirvana and formed the Foo Fighters since, chose to focus his speech on the power of believing it's possible. By “it,” he meant virtually anything you've ever thought you couldn't do. Musicians and bands have been living and preaching this since practically the beginning of time. Think of The Ramones, once just a couple kids from Queens, or even Billie Holiday, who spent nearly her entire childhood believing she wasn't worth much. These people are living proof that yes, you can.



            Oh, and one more thing:


6.                   Don't stop believin'.

     (I am ashamed.)


Madison R.