Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The healing power of music through misery

I went to play a show in Denver this last weekend at the Lion's Lair and the highlight for me was playing on the street for a homeless man. When we arrived I noticed a disheveled man sitting by the pub entrance but I didn't pay too much attention to him at that point. Later through the night he started to get belligerent and angry. He tried entering the bar and the bouncer told him several times he was not allowed in. He got even more angry and started yelling obscenities and cursing at the bouncer and was slurring and drooling on himself. We asked the bouncer what was going on and he said the man was a local drunk who knew he was not allowed inside. He also said the guy used to be really nice but turned into a raging alcoholic.
     Before we played on stage I went to grab my instrument to load in and the rest of my bandmates grabbed theirs as well. We decided to do a quick warm up outside the venue and play a few songs. As we did so the homeless man came up to us and sat quietly and calmly to listen to us play. I noticed he had a big grin on his face as he said "Thank you. I have been so blessed to see you guys play tonight. I am so lucky". He stayed seated watching us and he just smiled. "You are awesome. You have the voice of Jesus and love shinning through you" Perhaps he was a rambling bum and perhaps we really weren't awesome. Perhaps the booze just made him think we were. I don't really care. What I do care about is that the music calmed him down. As we played music I watched an angry man pissed off at the world transform into a calm individual, for a moment he was able to forget his misery and whatever pain in his life had lead him to drink so much. It takes a whole lot of mental illness, self hatred, confusion, misery and pain to lead yourself to drinking that much. I know many people (myself included) who have struggled with life acceptance, alcohol and substance abuse. Not that they are the victims, in most cases they inflict more pain on those around them. I still see it for what it is though, no untroubled man or woman will chose to abuse a substance or alcohol as they are deeply troubled individuals overflowing in pain, suffering and anguish.
    That moment made my night though as I realized why I do what I do. The man was too drunk to probably even remember the night, our name or our songs. He probably doesn't have a facebook or instagram and will not be giving us a like or a follow. Again, I don't really care. I care for that small moment in time and space as I'd like to think our music gave him a temporary peace of mind and dose of medicine. For whatever small moment it was, he was happy. I saw him smile and that was that. He left a happy man that night.

On the streets of Denver