photo by: Brandon Weiss
Whatever It Is
Where does it come from? Music is abstract, and eternal. It is an endless node of space and yet lay dormant for countless epochs until our ancestors opened up the pit and let it start to sing. The glimmer of sounds around them tickled in their ear: A bird’s call, scattering stones, the beating rhythm of words and footsteps repeating, the sky cracks and the rain whispers and the earth hums. It’s everywhere coming through.
Why does it come for us? I’m always reminding myself. We are the speaker and the microphone. Music plays through me. It’s always been a blessing in my life, and I do whatever I can to follow where it wants to go.
I was very very fortunate to be surrounded by music in my early childhood. My parents love music: the stereo was always on, there were always instruments around, and they very generously put me in lessons as early as they could.
My mom introduced me to The Beatles. She was an original fangirl and had a joint collection of their early release 45s with her best friend, Virginia, whose father sold records out of their hardware store in Brooklyn. She & Virginia were gifted tickets to see The Beatles live on Ed Sullivan by Virginia’s cousin who worked at a local radio station. When they got to the show, they were tragically turned away by an usher who told them their tickets were counterfeit. They were heartbroken, but my grandfather impersonated a police officer in order to sneak them into the theater through the stage door and they got to see the show anyway from the third row.
Growing up in the South Bay, The Beach Boys were practically my neighbors. After high school, I moved into a house with a bunch of friends in Hawthorne just a couple blocks away from where the Wilsons grew up. I sold my surfboard so I could buy an Ikea bed and a Hi-Fi system from goodwill. I got a bike and I went to college where Brian briefly majored in psychology, and took classes in the music school where he and the Boys wrote and rehearsed their early records. I would come home and lay on the floor and listen to Pet sounds over and over again. My parents had always played their records at home, so I was already a fan, but living in their neighborhood really shaped me deeply. I’m so grateful for everything that I have learned and inherited from other artists.
Weather cuts mountains.
The journey is within. It’s receiving everything around you and learning from it. Reflecting on our patterns in contrast to what we experience allows us to go in further and heal. We can then bring our healed self back out to the world. That is the journey that I have been on – polishing the lens. There was a lot to learn about myself in order to make a record that I could feel good about. There’s a culture of selfishness that we internalize. Art is a voice for our wounds and sometimes we can even heal by making art from that place — I wasn’t there yet for a long time. I was obstructed and figuring out how to let go and not judge myself. I was learning to treat myself with compassion by learning to treat the world with more compassion and curiosity. I’m still learning. I hope to deepen that surrendering always. It’s a transformation and it is the source of the songwriting process for “whatever it is”. Waiting on perfectionism held me back in art and in the rest of my life. Recognizing this controlling tendency lets me hear the songs that are already here in the aether. I had never experienced that before; I had always gone fishing for songs. It’s an incredible feeling to listen to the sparkle when it arrives. I try to bring that same open heart to everything in my life and let it come with gratitude.
~ Samuel Joseph