How to answer that question without stomping around in the goo of your own mortality? Easy, write it about someone else, ummm, maybe named Man Diller–nah? Or maybe Stormy Black–my fake-porn-name? That works. Let’s talk about how Stormy will know when it’s time to put down his instruments–when his age has won and his finger-mind connection is broken. He won’t. I, whoops… he, will be playing from the grave. He won’t care if his hands turn to stumps, or if he thinks the piano is his 8th grade English teacher with the big bra. He will always play music–no matter how infirm or screeching the output is. One bigger question is how long will people be willing to listen to Stormy when he’s 50 miles past the last service station? Probably not long, the creative life can be heartless. The mature zebra gets eaten by some up-and-coming young guitar playing Lion punk. The aging elephant, tusks and roar dulled, is brought to its knees by a barely-playing, trust-fund-getting, beardy band from Williamsburg.
The goods new? Who cares!? Not me! The benefit of being a modern rock musician is that technique is only one of many things you can make music with. Some of the most creative folks I know can’t really ‘play’ instruments. Computers, keyboards, instruments, samplers, step sequencers, tape machines, DAW’s, speak n’ spells, iPhones, hollow logs and anything else lying around is a perfectly good tool to make music with. Since playing a flawless Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 has rarely been an entry requirement for a rock band, I can look forward to using any and all of these devices when my technical skill leaves me–for one reason or another. If I look towards my own decline, hopefully many decades down the road, I see me, or Stormy, making a song or tune with the whatever-the-current iPhone iteration is. After my fingers won’t hit the right pentatonic anymore the idea of rocking a solo on the Speak n’ Spell seems pretty enticing. Even when my ability to speak is gone and I am unable to do many things I take for granted now, I will find my way to some object to make music. Music has everything to give and is not a snob– it loves anyone who joins. My 3-year-old daughter finds infinite inspiration and expression from the many instruments we have around the house, she also bangs on a cardboard box for hours and shrieks with laughter. Even if no one wants to listen, Stormy and I will too. We will be the lonely tree that falls in the forest, hopefully still keeping time. // Dan Miller