When I was growing up, we didn’t have much . Lots of love and support but not much in the way of money or material things. My grandfather used to buy up houses at tax sales and refurbish them to resell. One of the houses had an old upright player piano still sitting in the living room and Grandpa and Grandma brought it back to their house. They never had it tuned or anything but that didn’t matter; when we visited on Sunday, I’d play for hours. I had always loved the music on the radio but until then I never dreamed that people really played music on instruments that made sounds.
Not much later than that, I heard a classical piano concerto for the first time. And from then on that’s what I wanted. The only thing I wanted. To learn to play like that and be a classical pianist.
Except for the harsh reality that there wasn’t enough money for piano lessons, and there wasn’t enough talent behind my desire to sustain the dream. I sang in the choir — the one that didn’t require tryouts — and even there I was one of the worst. Much later, when I could afford it, I took piano lessons. Lasted a couple of years before I stopped, because as I said, the talent just isn’t there. And no, this isn’t a matter of not trying enough.
But the love goes on. Music keeps me going through the darkest times and gives rhythm to the joy. It’s the one constant I’ve always had in my life — more constant than the words, more complex, more…true. More real. Whether it’s a Bach organ piece, or Golden Earring rocking out to Bullet Hits the Bone, or good old Texas swing with Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, or a good jazz combo on New Year’s eve, its heartbeat is more real even than the blood in my veins.
I think without it I really would die. Only I always have it. In my head, in my voice.
I think this is why Nicky is the most real character I ever created — because he embodies the love.
I think this has something to do with the thing I’m waiting for and the direction I have been refusing to see.
I’m not sure what you do with music when you have no talent, but love counts for something.