Masquerading as a musician

The prompt:


What do you want to try next year?

(Author: Kaileen Elise)

I have always fallen in love with musicians, platonically or romantically. It all started on my sixteenth birthday, when I went to see my first rock show. It was the Posies, and it changed my little world. For the first time, I realized that real people made music, not just those on MTV. And I wanted to be around people doing just that.

Of course, we started a band, stat. I couldn’t play an instrument, so by default I was the singer. The Volvo Gods, covered The Breeders and Cheap Trick and gave us the means to believe we were high school outsiders by choice rather than necessity.

Two decades pass, a life in band snapshots:

Shortwave was my band while attending college in Montreal. With two of the most fearless musicians I’ve ever met, things got experimental. I played an amplified motorcycle muffler.

Back in Seattle, Good Morning Darling was disciplined shoegaze. In Krakatoa, I pretended to be punk for two minutes.

When I moved to Sacramento, I started with a secret pretend band, which isn’t that unusual here: Hella Ladies. We posted flyers for fake shows and made matching necklaces out of pet identification tags.

In The Band That Time Forgot I made old timey country with multi-talented individuals who could coax delight out of any instrument they picked up.

Of course, I married a musician. I fell in love with Joy for many reasons, not the least of which was watching her play music – it showed me her heart. With Joy and Jeannie –  atmospheric soundscapes and choir of angels – FREEPORT was born, a musical coven cooking up melodramatic tales of love, loss and tsunami.

Do you see a pattern? I found people whose talent blew me away and attached myself to them. Inside, that’s just how I felt – like a barnacle. A total hanger on only just tricking everyone into letting me play through an elaborate ruse.  The lyrics I wrote were never about me, they were always stories about someone else, or even whole plagiarized poems. I was utterly certain at any moment I would be unmasked as a witless imposter.

So, a couple years ago, I stopped. Suddenly. And at first I didn’t miss it at all. I didn’t sing, barely even listened to music. I got real comfortable with silence.

Then, in June this year, my yoga studio celebrated it’s fifth anniversary with a talent show, and suddenly all I could think about was asking Freeport to reunite to play it. I figured it would be a one-time thing. Jeannie and Joy, bless them, were up for anything. And here’s the thing: this time, when we got together and practiced, it felt different. I don’t know if it was the breather I took, or the fact that this time the show was in a safe place for me, at the yoga studio, but everything, from practice through to the show, felt different. I felt in control, I felt more…authentic. And I felt like I wanted to do it again.

Next year, I’m going to try and think of myself as a musician, not a breathless groupie in disguise as the singer. Freeport already wrote a new song this year, and it started with my lyrics. For the first time they weren’t about someone else. They were from my heart, and they were about me.


About madyoga

Yoga Teacher and Massage Therapist in Sacramento, CA
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3 Responses to Masquerading as a musician

  1. HollyPhoenix says:

    i heart your lyrics. i heart your heart! looking forward to 2011, freeport style. xoxo

  2. the spouse says:

    Dear Rocknroll Girlfriend,

    You have been since I have known you, my favorite musical collaborator. It cheers me to see that you are finally embracing the fact that you are a musician. It is my hope that we always play music together in some form whether it’s doing a Posies cover song on christmas for kicks or touring Canada with the band. I love you and i love the music you make. xoxo boogles.
    ps – freeport forever – like it says on my arm.

  3. i’m so happy to know i’ll be getting more musician you in 2011! it’s funny, i’ve always thought of you as a musician – type.

    the band that time forgot sounds heavenly, by the way.

    i wish i would have had your guts in high school, maybe i’d think of myself as a musician too.

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