Author: Compton, Cliff

Drug of Choice

We all have our drug of choice. Mine is music. We all have our bad habits. Those things that tear us down, complicate our lives. Things that war against our best interests. Some folks drink too much (been there). Ingest too many chemicals (been there). Gamble away their livelihood (havenít been there). Eat too much (am there). Like the ladies too much (I take the fifth) Like the men too much (Iím safe there). All those things are things designed to help people escape the grayness of life, give the senses a jolt, or dull those senses when life becomes too much.
As a man given to excess, Iím grateful for music. My wife would probably tell you that itís too big a part of my life. Thereís a lot of bluegrass widows out there that would echo the sentiment. This stuff can get in your blood. It can drain your pocket, and rob your time and drive your mate to distraction.
I can sit down at a campout and play eight straight hours, forget to eat, get so tired that I canít remember where the capo goes, play till my finger tips look like Iíve been strumming a cheese grater, lay down for two hours and get up and do go for another six. This year at grass valley I went that way for nine days. When the arthritis and the hand cramps and the numb fingers wouldnít work, I played the harmonica. Played that sucker till I tore out about half of my mustache. Never missed a jam. Thereís a lot of us like that.
I donít know about you. I dream about this stuff. On festival days, I canít sleep. I want to get on the road. The night before, Iím rounding up my picks, chasing down my tuners, making sure Iíve got enough strings. Pulling out the new songs. Thumbing through the old ones. I keep getting instruments. Had to have a dobro. Lloyd gave me a banjo. Lloyd left me his martin. Somebody gave me a fiddle. I traded Armando my baby taylor for a Kentucky mandolin. Iíve got a piano and an electric bass. Seven or eight harmonicas and so it goes.
SoÖI guess thereís a case to be made. Maybe I like this more than I should. As I understand it, moderation is a virtue. And Iíve rarely moderated anything in my life.
But then again, maybe Iím just doing what I was born to do. Because Iíve been doing it as long as Iíve been alive, and itís brought some pain along the way, a few relationships that didnít survive it, hands that hurt in the night, but, boy oh howdy, there has been the joy! Standing on stage listening to the applause, singing with all my heart unto the lord in church, playing a love song to someone I really loved, the feeling that comes when that jam is perfect, and magic is in the air. When you play that perfect lead, and you music merges with the cosmos an adds a few notes to the symphony of life.
Wheeew! Datís what itís all about, baby.
All things considered, itís probably the best habit I ever had.
Posted:  1/8/2010

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