Friday, August 29, 2014
A long time ago I was a drummer in a country and western band called the Southern Playboys, and after that in a kind of Lawrence Welk type quintet. The leader of the band played accordion. I kid you not. I also used to be a painter. I have a master’s degree in art and spent most of my life making art. But then I quit that, too.
I still make art in my head, and in bed at night I sometimes have lucid dreams about painting. As for drumming, I constantly drum with my fingers on my thighs or a table top or the steering wheel when I’m driving—to whatever song is in my head at the time. Sometimes I wake up about four o’clock in the morning and start drumming in my head. I will visualize sitting at a drum set with sticks in hand and playing a masterful solo.
When I make art in my head it can be as frustrating and as fulfilling as making an actual painting. You see, I remember that when I was actively painting I would often—more often than you can imagine—screw it up; and the more I tried to fix it the worse it got. When this happened (notice I put that in the passive voice: it just happened; I had nothing to do with it) I often had to scrape everything off and start over. You’d think I could avoid stuff like that when I’m painting in my head, but I don’t.
Drumming in my head usually goes better. I do things I was never able to do when I was actually drumming. I’m talking like things only a Buddy Rich or a Ginger Baker can do.
You’d think that if I do all this painting and drumming in my head I’d want to pick up a brush or a pair of drumsticks and do the real thing, but I really have no desire to do either. I have a pair of drumsticks that sit by the TV. I often think about picking them up but, you know, I’d have to get up and walk across the room.
The thing is, doing these things in my head is just as satisfying, if not more so, than doing the real thing. I know I can never be as good as Michelangelo or Jackson Pollock or Phillip Pearlstein, but in my mind I can. Besides, painting is messy. As for drumming, do you have any idea how physically demanded drumming is? At my age and as out of shape as I am I could never last through a couple of rock songs, and I know I could never be another Ginger Baker.
But in my mind . . . damn I’m good.