Joy Stealer

1 03 2015

I seldom talk about my very short lived time near the top of the music industry and some of the people there I brushed up against, mainly because there’s just not a whole lot to tell. Oh I could give you a few names to impress you, but it doesn’t Rock _nmean that much. Those names and a 5 dollar bill will get you a Happy Meal at Micky D’s I suppose, but not much more than that. I’m sure six months after I was gone from the circuit had you mentioned my name to any of them their answer would have been, “Who?” That’s just the nature of the beast, and the music industry for all us dime-a-dozen wanna be musicians trying to make our mark. If anything, I did learn that I was lacking two major qualities that were needed if I was going to make a living in music. The first, of course, was talent; I needed to hone my skills to a higher level than they were and I needed to get tougher emotionally. I loved the time spent performing on stage, but away from that I felt insecure and probably suffered a little from depression. When my moment was gone, I made a vow that I would find my way back into the music industry better prepared than when I was given the heave ho.

I worked hard to get better at my trade and when the time came started a band I was in charge of. The other musicians I recruited were quite talented and I had high hopes of a triumphal return to the limelight. This time I was determined not to fold under the pressure or let depression to have its way with me. I made all the major decisions and critiqued every number in our repertoire at rehearsals, as well as on stage. If I wasn’t pleased with something I heard, I’d let everyone know and that it was expected to be done better next time. Sometimes after a gig, I’d get home not able to sleep because I was so wound up and upset with something that didn’t go the way I wanted it to. I could get short with the others, but they had to realize striving for perfection was for our own good if we wanted to make it musically. I knew everyone was on board, at least that’s what I convinced myself, until one day, my lead guitarist, figuratively, threw cold water in my face. He came by the house to let me know he, the bass player and keyboardist were quitting the band. “Why?” I demanded, “We’ve got something good going on, why do you want to end it?!!” “I agree, we do have something good,” Jeff the guitar said, “We all feel that way, but you never seem to think so, you’re never happy with what we do.” “That’s not true!” I shot back, but Jeff wouldn’t hear any of it. “John, tell me the last time you complimented us on how we performed or that you really had any fun playing.” I always have fun playing music with you guys, but if you’re not serious about making it to the big time you never will, it’s just that simple!” His only answer before leaving, “If it’s robbing you of the fun you’re supposed to be having then making it just isn’t that important, and it’s just that simple.” Hmm, seemed I heard words similar to that before. (You did also if you read last weeks story.)

Jeff and the other two left and started a new band that I went to hear one night, they were actually pretty good, and they looked like they were having an awesome time. They even threw me a bone and let me set in on the drums for a couple of songs, and boy was that fun. Here I had an incredible group and was too wrapped up in myself to even notice or enjoy what we did. As my generation would say, ‘Bummer!’

I recently heard this saying:  “Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.”

In my quest to reach the stars, I forgot to notice just how beautiful they were from afar. I took the love I had for making music and made it a chore that I and others could no longer enjoy.

It at times takes a while for an important lesson to sink in this thick scull of mine, but here’s one I finally got. God gives each of us talents of some kind, they don’t have to be the very best or world renown to be used and enjoyed by others, but mostly, you.

When I became of follower of Christ, one of the first verses in the Bible I was drawn to was Galatians 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.” Every one of those has to do with being happy, being content, being satisfied in whatever role God has chosen for you.

“Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.”

In the course of my life, “Traveling the Rock Road,” I’ve pretty much sat down the drum sticks and slung a guitar over my shoulder, which was my first love anyway. The majority of my playing now-a-days is to accompany my beautiful wife and her wonderful voice, or when my sons come home and we go to my studio basement to jam (BTW, they’re both better musicians than the Gray One, and I’m proud of it!) or just getting together with some friends to pick and grin. On occasion I’m called on to play in the worship band at our church, something I’m honored to be a part of. There are some good musicians involved there, but I don’t think we’ll ever have to worry about a world tour or anything like that. For me, I just love hearing the music we’re making for the Lord, it never fails to touch my heart and make me want to play my best. But when we begin and the folks that make up the congregation sing, there’s the real talent, the real joy.

Sometimes as I listen to them singing with hearts full of praise, I can barely hold onto my guitar because my sprit is so touched, blessed and happy that I am using my gift to the highest calling!

The boys in the band forgave over the years for how I robbed them of the joy of making music back then; we’ve even spent an evening sitting around a living room playing the old songs. “Guys, we’ve still got it, maybe we should put the old band back together, what da ya think?”

“Hey, where’s everybody going? I was just kidding for Pete sake!!!”

See ya next time friends and family!


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