Smooth Criminal


So at first I wanted to be Michael Jackson.


I know looking at me and listening to my music probably doesn’t give that away but when I was 7 or 8 years old I wanted to be Michael Jackson. 

I tried to learn all his moves, the side snap while walking (not bad), that cool head swivel thing (no way), the lean from Smooth Criminal (fell on my face more than once), but I did have a bangin moonwalk. Man I loved the groove of his songs, they just make you move the second they start. Why am I telling you this? No idea! Honestly, I think it’s funny to picture and when I think about how I was swept up into this weird ass world of being a musician that’s how it starts. 

The first things that really drew me into making music were guitar riffs and groove. 

I was always a sucker for that beat or riff that moves you the second you hear it. 

The bass groove at the beginning of “The Way You Make Me Feel," the opening guitar riffs to “Welcome to the Jungle," or “Zero” or “Smells Like Teen Spirit," the guitar riff to “Runnin Down a Dream," the beginning of “Superstitious” or “Hells Bells” or “Highway 101” by Social Distortion. I could honestly go on for hours and come up with a million riffs that just spoke to me. I always thought it would be so cool to be able to create that, I still do and I try everyday. 

It wasn’t until I got my heart broken the first time (damn you Evan in 5th grade) that I started paying attention to lyrics. Now songs weren’t just something to groove to but “somebody was writing about me!” It was like the songs were saying everything I wished I could, or speaking to me. No matter how down or pissed I got, or how alone I felt there was always a song that let me know it wasn’t just me, that someone else “get’s it.” 

People have told me that no one listens to lyrics anymore and they aren’t important (I know!) 

As someone who has friends that write powerful moving music that motivates and inspires me everyday and someone who’s had people come up to me with my own lyrics tattooed on them and stories of how something I wrote made them feel like someone else “get’s it” I can tell you that lyrics will never be “unimportant.” 

I remember the first time I wrote down how I felt about something. Not my first song, no that was a horrible attempt at writing about sex, (I was 13 and not having sex) there were a lot of songs about sex and I thought if I wrote about it maybe I could have some…turns out that’s not how it works (I can still hear the laughter). 

I mean the first time I was able to really get some feelings out on paper, it was like an exorcism (minus the green vomit and mom insults) I felt like I got to take off the 1000 lb anxiety jacket I was wearing for a minute and just be a person. Writing songs became my way of dealing with life, the thing that keeps me centered and stops me when I want to drive off a bridge. (I know so emo right?) 

Anyway, fast forward all these years later, I don’t want to be Michael Jackson anymore (still love his music) but I’m still chasing those riffs, feeling those grooves, and writing myself a way off the ledge. I’m in a loud obnoxious rock n roll band where I get to sing high and play aggressive guitar (and I wrote everything so I don’t have to play Journey songs), and now I’m on this new journey (see what I did there) as a singer/songwriter with just an acoustic guitar my voice, and some (hopefully) not too depressing songs. Honestly, it’s terrifying. 

I’ve given my life over to music in so many ways, I’ve moved to New York from Indiana to Las Vegas, and back again. I’ve lived in a van and then rehearsal studios for years so I could tour and perform my music for people all over the country. I bartend in music venues and teach at a school of rock. (Yes, I’ve heard the Jack Black thing) 

I always get someone that asks why I would continue to do something that takes so much from you and can feel like it gives very little back. I never know how to answer that because for me this isn’t a choice to continue, it’s who I am. Making music is my heartbeat and performing is like breathing for me. It’s not always easy (it’s mostly never easy) it’s not even always worth it (driving 8 hours to play for the bartender). But I’ve definitely learned to roll with the punches, always keep what you love in front of you, and take every chance and opportunity that comes along. The old saying: “It’s the journey not the destination” I think is half right, I’d say there is no destination, only the journey so always make sure it’s a hell of a trip. 

P.S. I did eventually get to have sex, it was awesome, 13 year old me had no idea….

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