Noticing something new on an old path.
This week, as a go through another round of brain therapy at the University of Madison, I've been thinking about pathways. Specifically, brain pathways. How many brain paths are now closed forever inside my head? What new ones have opened? Could an old pathway be reopened? The answers to these questions will forever remain a mystery to me.
But what of the pathways outside of my head? What of the roads I walk down to get to therapy? The new roads I try when I'm not late and have time to explore? The other paths I take in my life, to run, to commute, to make music? These pathways will probably never be closed off forever to me. More important, they all have one thing in common: if I pay attention, they will reveal something new every time I venture down them.
Take yesterday, for example. I have walked the path from my hotel to where I receive therapy at least 20 times. There are maybe three routes max to choose from, and yet, yesterday, while walking along the route I have walked along more often than the others, I noticed something I had never really noticed before: a large bed of purple flowers. Then I noticed the bees. I got out my cameral and did my best to snap a close-up of a bee as it burrowed into a purple portal and dug out some life.
Earlier today, these thoughts of seeing something new on old paths were very much with me. And I asked myself, what path best exemplifies this idea of seeing something new where you have been before?
For me, it has to be the neck of a guitar.
I have been up and down guitar necks thousands and thousands of times, and yet, I still find stuff that's new. What I find these days is never fundamentally new, but rather, a slight twist on something I have played before. I think this is where the best songs come from. They are slight variations on something we all know well. Consider Bad Moon Rising by Creedence. I mean, it's a straight-up I V IV change, it's played on cowboy chords (D, A, G), and it's in 4/4 time, nothing new whatsoever, right? Even the sound is just drums, bass, guitars and voice. And yet, if you are like me, the first time you heard Bad Moon Rising it grabbed you and never let you go.
My most sincere hope is that every song on my album is like Bad Moon Rising, both familiar and new, a path I've been down before but never quite like this. A tall order, to be sure, but as someone I once worked for used to say, "Go big or go home." Truer words have rarely been spoken.