Why do I play music?

I am sure everyone would give you a different answer if you asked them. I am sure people's reasons for playing change over time. Some people do it because they love performing, some people do it because they want to be a star, some people play because it's a hobby and something to put the evenings in doing. Some people, infinitely cooler than me can say they "do it for the music."

When someone who isn't a musician asks about it sooner or later you will get "So, how much do you get paid?" If you play original music I really doubt anyone would answer the above question by saying they only do it for the money. I normally make enough money to get home again, if the venue is within walking distance.

I was talking with another musician on the Liverpool scene who I had not seen in a while about what they had been up to and like me, they had not been playing out as much as they used to and we started talking about why. For most of us this is a hobby and the empty rooms, the cliques and the politics of it all can take away our motivation. . At the very least this can become a good excuse you tell yourself so you can sit in the house all night and do nothing. It is right up there with "I don't have time anymore." I was telling myself that but still managing to squeeze a couple of games of Fifa and watch an hour or two of TV.

Realistically though it is has a lot more to do with confidence. When you lose belief in yourself playing is absolutely no fun. Confidence is not the only thing that goes away though, the love for music can also disappear. Most of us are writing and performing our own songs because music is a big part of our lives so it can be tough when it makes you doubt yourself. All these things mixed in with some personal stuff going on meant I was not playing out as much I and starting to drift away from music which leads me to back to the question "Why do I play music?"

For starters I have met hundreds of different people that I probably would not have If I was not out and about playing music. Most of these people I now call my friends and it is great to run into them or find out you are playing on the same gig. The impromptu jams that have taken place before or after gigs have been tremendous. Sometimes even before you learn someone's name you can be ten minutes into playing a song. I also love hearing other people's interpretations of life and how they tell it through original songs. I've had the privilege of jamming with some incredibly talented musicians while trying to learn, and not mess up their songs.

I know people getting married who met on the local scene. Even in our wee band we have Claire and Declan who met at a gig because they were both on the same bill. Claire now plays in our band and I have gone from being the third best, to the fourth best musician in Gary Maginnis & The Like, even though my name is first! These relationships are formed because you meet like minded people in pubs and clubs starting out talking about music and then whatever else. This is what make it worthwhile. You can go through life and never meet these people and end up closed off from their ideas and their songs.

I have had people come up to me after sets and talk about how a song reminded them of someone or they really related to a line in it. Then they tell you their stories and sometimes these can be incredibly personal. This has been really helpful for me and hopefully I have not bored the arses off them. I have had some of the most interesting conversations after a gig and learnt a lot from this.

The other reason I play is because of the situations and places I find myself in that I would have missed out on. Some of them good, some bad and some you are just happy to get out of but these all turn into stories. Be it sitting in with a Scottish trad band with no idea on how to play the songs but having a great time anyway, to having older men offering to take you home or missing your last train home and talking shite on a long walk with someone you have just played on the same night with.

Because I don't drink it can be very easy to just stay out of bars and clubs. With music I have not only had a reason for going but I have been made welcome by everyone even as I sip my glasses of water. There are some cafes I would never have thought of going to, but they had live music so in I go. There have been bars I would have passed by but if someone I know is playing I am going to drop in. I have played in art galleries and historical buildings and have seen rooms I did not know existed. It is cool to play in a basement bar but is equally fun to play in a room surrounded by monuments and paintings. Most importantly though I have open invitations to go back to so many different places and I might have to take people up on that sometime soon.

It can be really easy to doubt yourself when you think no-one is listening. When you lose confidence in what you are doing and questioning why bother. Stop and think about all the experiences that you could have missed out on, the people you might never have met, the people you now call your friends. At least that is what I am going to try to do.

Hayes Carll put it very well in a song
I meet some wild people out here
Some that I pretend to know and others more sincere
A few that downright scare me and some that I hold dear
I meet some wild people out here

I started writing this blog as a bit of a general viewpoint but I may have gotten more personal than I expected to so I might as well finish it with something personal. My wife has heard me working away on some songs over the past few weeks and she smiles and say it is great to hear me playing guitar again.

So that is why I play music. Maybe it would have been cooler to just say"I do it for the music."


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