Just the act of riffing out a chord progression

There is an ongoing discussion on one of my LinkedIn groups that deals with the question, “Why Do You Play Music?”  I believe that this is an excellent question–not an easy on to answer, though.

Why do I play music?  I could say that it’s because it’s what I do, as though it is the only thing that I do, but that would be misleading.  I do a lot of things, and many of them are creative outlets.  These are:  photography, writing poems, writing these blog posts, fly fishing, refinishing furniture, abstract painting, building guitars, reading, and there are probably more that don’t come to mind at this time.

Yet, at the end of the day, it is music that gets me through my day and the hard times when they come.  I don’t mean I turn on my stereo and play from my music collection.  I mean I sit down with my guitar, bass, or mandolin and just make random sounds.  It soothes my inner self.  It doesn’t take any energy.  I don’t have to think.

Mostly, I play on the guitar, because I know it best.  Sometimes I sing, but that begins to take the form of work, so it’s usually gust chords on the guitar.  Chords I know.  Chord progressions I love and that soothe me.  Regardless of what Thom Robbins may write it isn’t just cowgirls who get the blues, cowboys do too.  And when I do music works best at releasing the pressure.

I play music on stage for the money and the excitement.  I play music to write songs so I have songs to sing on stage and to peddle.  I like it when younger musicians get excited about my songs.  I really like having my ego stroked and I especially like it when tables of women yell and hoot and I really like it that after all that is done that I get paid.  However, and this is at the heart of this blog posting, when my heart and soul are bruised and hurting or when I’m so tired I could just give it all up and look around for a daisy to push, JUST SITTING WITH THE GUITAR AND FINGER-PICKING A LITTLE MAKES MY WORLD OK!

This aspect of music is not about satisfaction, but about healing.  It is about soothing my inner wild beast.  It is about being home within that home that is within me, and just being.  Sometimes there is nothing left but the music, and it is the music that makes something out of the nothing, and restores me once again.

Even big, bad, in-your-face Rockabilly kats have friends betray them, lose important gigs, have important plans crumble, feel lost, depressed, and unloved, and in those times, few though they are, it is the music, just me and my guitar, that pulls it together.  I know that there are some Christians out there who might be thinking, “Well, what about God?”  To that I answer, “What about God?  After prayer there is still an empty room, and there is still whatever caused the pain.  So, what if it was God who got me to pick up the guitar in the first place?  And, what if it is God who is the music–all music?”  Which might be the real, unspoken, and unknown reason anyone plays music.”



  1. Well said! Thanks for taking the time to say it. My skills are reversed. I sing in public to get my songs heard. I play the guitar to sing the songs, and write the songs because I can and must. Four hours is too long to go without singing and playing. “We thank God for the small things in life, we thank God for the strong starry nights, we thank God for the songs that we write, and this one’s for you.”

  2. I need to thank the folks from my Linkedin groups for their kind comments. They post to Linkedin directly so their comments are lost here. Let me say, thank you for how you have resonated (a strictly California term) with this posting.

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