No, this isn’t a post about the famous George Harrison song, but I think I’m beginning to understand his meaning. I wish I could take you on a journey into my mind, into my heart, and through my fingers with every pluck, strum, and chord change on my guitar. I know I could record the sound, but just hearing it won’t guarantee you’ll go on the journey with me. You must have ears to hear to get there. It seems this is a journey I must take alone, but man, oh, man, I wish I could take you with me.
For the last several years I’ve been working on one song, and sometimes I stay on the same chord progressions for months before adding something new or changing a rhythm in that progression. Yet, when I begin to play, sometimes all it takes is a few chords, a few strums, a few plucks to transport me somewhere else, somewhere deep, somewhere that feels like a river of so many emotions, so many feelings, so much that it’s often too much to even try and explain.
This morning while playing, I placed my ear on the top of the body of my acoustic guitar and started the familiar progression, first with a soft individual strum of each string, giving them their own moment, their own sound, in their own time. From the initial vibration of the sixth E string, I felt my soul stir and it wept. There was a sadness, a loneliness found in that single note. It moved with the fullness of the vibration as I just let it sit there. It needed to be released. I felt part of what’s been bottled inside me, move through my fingers, the ones on the Em chord, and then through my thumb as it started at the 6th E and moved slowly down over the next four stings.
Over and over I just slowly strummed each string, and with each new vibration I felt my soul moving with all five strings, making sure to never touch that first E string, because I knew, I felt something else waiting there. Just the Em over and over and over and over. The hair prickled on the back of my neck, and my stomach pitched, and a huge knot formed in my throat, but I kept playing, I kept pouring my soul into those strings over and over and over and over. I begin to slowly rock as I play, because I can feel it coming, the release, the energy in the universe about to move through me and then back into me.
That’s the thing about playing music. It’s not just about pouring out from me into the notes I play, but to open my soul and allow the music to pour back into me, through the vibration, through the sounds, through the waves, emitting their healing, their message, their love back into my soul. It’s like a filter, the way a body’s heart, kidneys and liver filters our systems.
After a while of just playing that Em, I finally move to this progression that only involves the top four strings… 6th through 3rd , with alterations of just using the top 2 and 3. I don’t want to put the chords here, because this is an original song I’ve composed and don’t want someone else to steal it. But, moving through this progression, the strums become a little harder with each repeat. I feel something moving inside and it’s sad, and it’s dark, and it’s painful… and the more I play, the more it moves through me, bubbling to the surface. This movement starts deep in the pit of my stomach, behind my belly button, and travels to my spine, up over my shoulders, and then down my arms and into my fingertips, all the while the other end of the tendrils are weaving deep into the chambers of my heart and into the hidden places of my mind.
Our voices are just another note, another vibration to mix with the sound of the strings being played on the guitar. I find myself humming and then open my mouth to release a high, yet sad note. It’s a haunting sound, full of pain, full of heartache, full of feeling… and it’s soft, and it’s beautiful. It complements the low sound of the guitar, and together it melts into a new melody, a new sound, evoking a new emotion. I continue to play, I continue to sing. My strums become harder and louder, as my song grows in intensity.
Then, like a climax, I feel myself reach the precipice and my song turns into a wail, and my fingers take over on their own and play the last few notes, and I feel all that pain, all that hurt, all that emotion release from me, release into the universe, release into the world and I stop singing, and then I stop playing. My heart is racing, my hands are shaking, and my mind is swimming as the last note fades into the ether. I smile, and with wet lashes, I open my eyes. I look down at my guitar and just sit in awe and wonder at the power it possesses to soothe my soul.
I wish I could take you on that journey with me. I wish you could experience how music is capable to move soul as it does, but I can’t. That was a great journey this morning.
I think I’d like to try the ukulele, now.
Till next time,
~Gently Weeping Guitar