I started writing when I was quite young and had several books “published” and available for signing out in my elementary school library. I was identified early as a bit of a gifted child, at least by the standards of my socio-economically repressed neighbourhood in the North End of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. I’d respectfully suggest that a disproportionately large number of my early classmates were fetal-alcohol-affected or otherwise disenfranchised. This was the mid 1970s and lots of expectant mothers still smoked and drank while pregnant, especially amongst the working poor.
I was given advanced placement in school and regularly removed from class for extra attention by the resource teacher, who encouraged me to write.
I remember that music was also always present in my household growing up. One of my earliest memories is placing a Johnny Cash 45 RPM single on my parents’ console television and hifi stereo set, dropping the needle and being massively disappointed that instead of Ring of Fire, I’d Still Be There (the B-side) emanated from the speakers.
My dad played a bit of acoustic guitar and my mom played the accordion and the chord organ. It was common to here 8-tracks of Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette and Willie Nelson coming from the house while my brother and I played on the front street.
Many years later I started playing electric bass guitar at the behest of a long time friend of mine (who also convinced me to move to Vancouver almost 5 years ago). His thrash metal band needed a bass player and he talked me into buying a used bass and trying out. I’m the idiot on the right side of the screen with the hair helmet and Sean is the guitar player with the long hair.
I was terrible!
But I didn’t give up. It was something I wanted to do in order to express the music inside me. I started at a beginner level and kept playing until the instrument became my voice.
I was a musician long before I taught my fingers what to do in order to make the sounds I had in my head come out.
I’d never given this much thought until I came across this Victor Wooten TEDx Talk on YouTube this morning.
Vic has some very interesting insight into music and language.
I remember when I would read Bass Player magazine religiously. I was introduced to all these players whom I’d never heard of who were being held up as paragons of the instrument. I knew the hard rock and metal players by name but this quirky jazz player who was playing in a bluegrass fusion band with some guy named Bela Fleck (and the Flecktones) was an enigma. I went to the public library and checked out a copy of the band’s Flight of the Cosmic Hippo and my life was forever changed.
Thanks for reading!