Column: You don't have to be good at something to enjoy it
Music has always been an important part of my life.
Hearing a song can completely change my mood.It can take me to another place or time. It can make me laugh, cry or rage.
It can cause me to reflect on my past, plan for my future or help drown out the noise of the day.
Catching the right song can cause me to spend an entire night listening to music. It can cause me to reach out to an old friend. It can even lead to a dance party with my kids.
Art is an amazingly powerful thing, but no art form seems to hit me like music does.
I’ve written before that many of the friendships I enjoy today were formed due to common interests in music.
Unfortunately, I’ve never mastered or even learned the basics of playing an instrument. Though I’ve put some effort into it over the years, I’ve only ever learned a few chords. I’ve still got time to fix that I suppose. I own a couple of cheap guitars and a bass I picked up from a thrift store years back. I have a drum kit I inherited for free. It’s not great but it works.
I’m a pretty terrible singer as well, but I’m comfortable with that and it’s never stopped me from belting out some lyrics.
The majority of my friends are competent musicians. Some are amazingly talented.
Since my youth, I always wanted to be in a band and somewhere around 2011, I was able to do that thanks to a few of my friends who were willing to let me sing for them. In a strange situation, my friends and I had been playing a lot of RockBand on Playstation 3. Amusingly, one of my friends who played guitar on RockBand, was a guitarist. Another of my friends who played drums in the game was a drummer. I usually did the vocals when we played and one day we realized we could just be doing this with real instruments. So we did.
In the ensuing months, we rented a small space in Ogdensburg and added a few more friends to the mix to form a band.
We spent weeks passing around a large variety of funny and incredibly inappropriate names, but with the jokes largely out of our system and as fans of Star Wars, prior to what Disney did to the franchise, we settled on “The Smugglers” in homage to Han Solo. Though we usually referred to ourselves more appropriately as “The Strugglers.”
We played covers, largely of songs people know but aren’t frequently covered. We played songs from the Temptations, Sam and Dave, and the Hollies.
We did not play them correctly. We did not play them well. Somehow though, we packed bars and more importantly we had a lot of fun.
There’s a solid chance if you were frequenting drinking establishments in the greater Ogdensburg area in 2011-2012, you probably heard us whether you knew it or not. For that I apologize. You deserved better.
Then life happened. Work schedules happened and we split up. I briefly enjoyed a short stint in another band called the Cloud City Gamblers, another Star Wars reference, but that didn’t really last either. I think we played maybe one live show.
This summer, some of my old band mates and I tossed around the idea of jamming again and recently we finally did.
We fired up the old PA and played around with a few songs from the old days. I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to playing live shows. I don’t care if we do, but I must say it felt good to jam again.
In a recent Ferris-Bueller-esque column, I wrote about how life goes by fast and if you don’t pay attention you just might miss it. I shared this story because I was fortunate enough to rediscover something I’d been missing. I hope it inspires you to do the same. Remember, you don’t have to be good at something to enjoy it.
Jimmy Lawton is news editor of North Country This Week and NorthCountryNow.com.