Lighthouse Light: A Motivation
Several July’s ago, I went to a locals show in downtown Santa Cruz. The night air was warm and people were out in shorts and flip flops. It was a 21+ over show at a bar on Pac Ave. The crowd was in good spirits as many them seemed to be friends with the band that was playing. The experience was rapturous: tiki-torches, dream lights, sandals, summer color and warm music on the rocks. With the band’s smiles, anecdotes between songs and high sung choruses, the fans felt as much a part of the band, the kind of summer show all bands want to have.
After the show, I had the opportunity to meet the lead singer Eric: a gregarious, tall and thin, mid 20’s man with a beach drawl and long matted hair. He shook my hand, thanked me for watching them play, and then oddly enough, offered to buy me a beer just for staying. I nodded. Free beer, summer breeze, feels like a Zac-Brown Band song.
I learned that his band all had full time jobs and music was just a side gig. For the Santa Cruz Native, he didn’t mind. “It’s something I love, that’s enough motivation.” His words resonated, so I asked him, “Is everyone in your band motivated by their love for music?”
His answer went like this…
“Well my man, our drummer has 2 jobs, our lead guitarist has 1 kid and our bassist has 3 kids. Even if we wanted to tour someday, how could we? Our bassist’s works 2 jobs just to keep things going ya know? Sometimes he doesn’t seem as committed, but I do get where he’s coming from.”
“Is he committed to your band?” I asked.
Everybody is committed to something. Everybody is motivated by something. We had a band meeting a few weeks ago. We meet at a lighthouse on the beach, it’s down near the sea bright. We bring beer and just sit and watch the waves. It’s peaceful there, and we have a good time. I’ve know these guys for almost 10 years. But like anything, our band meetings can sometimes get a little heavy. Were adults now and we have other things going on in our lives. I don’t always get along with M___ (the bassist), but we both mean well.
“Did the band meeting get a bit heated?” I asked.
“Nah man. I mean, I eventually told him, you gotta be in the band or not be in it. I get that you have a family. We all have families we gotta support. Ya know man? But maybe your music is good for them.” Then he said something I’ll never forget:
“[Eric] playing music isn’t going to make me a better husband or father. Me being committed to my family, that’s going to make me a better musician.” He was right. The best motivation for us as musicians are the people around us: our families, our friends, wives, husbands, kids. People, Ya know? Because without them, what is the music for really?
I finished my beer with Eric. Then I bought him another one. He eventually invited me to a bonfire on the beach with some of the locals, but I couldn’t make it. I said goodbye, thanked him, and asked if I could write about what he ha said. He said yes, just don’t use my real name. When I got back to my hotel, it’s exactly what I did.
As I write this now, I think about what his bassist said and it’s quite profound.
“Playing music isn’t going to make me a better husband or father. Me being committed to my family, that’s going to make me a better musician.”
We can’t just become motivated just by saying that we need to. We all face choices every day. And we all have things that take up our lives. I believe motivation can be found within and amidst these things, not apart from them. Motivation to write music, it’s not separate from our lives; It’s interwoven. It’s the thread that makes up the fabric, so to speak. Each small moment in our life is a chance to be motivated for our music. We write music and perform, and become a part of the stage experience because of all the other moments that captivate us. The daily Chaos is not a reason to stop the music. The daily chaos becomes our motivation to keep on playing.
What motivates us to be who we are? What motivates us as musicians to play the music we do? Is it the music itself, or is it the people who inspire us? What do you think?