I'm shocked I even have to say this — but it appears I must.
As a full-time RVer, I spend about half my time at campgrounds, and half my time boondocking (dry camping) on public land, wilderness areas, wineries, breweries, museums, and distilleries. (See also: Harvest Hosts Lets You Camp For Free. It's Also Keeping Small Businesses From Closing During the Pandemic.)
As a singer-songwriter, I spend many of my evenings playing guitar or writing songs, whether by myself or with friends I've met along the way.
There's this funny thing that happens, sometimes, when you are making music socially in the digital age, and I feel morally compelled to say something about it.
So I'll be making music. I've got my voice and my guitar. There will be others with me. Maybe they'll have a guitar or a harmonica or a tambourine (or even just a bottle of palm wine). We'll be rocking out, having the greatest time anyone's ever had...
Then someone in the group, usually a non-musician, asks, "Do you know Bla Bla Song?"
When the answer is no, the person gets out their phone and starts playing the song on Spotify.
And it's like, Bro.
Don't do this.
We did not haul our instruments out to the desert or down that cliff or across the sand dune so we could listen to recorded music on your cellular telephone.
We hauled our instruments out here so we could make our own music, using our own talents and skills.
This seriously happens, like, all the time, and we need to talk about it.
I get why it's happening. Someone who doesn't play music is with people who do play music, and they're trying to, like, participate.
But musicians don't want to listen to music on your phone.
We do want you to participate.
So grab a broken piece of boogie board. Grab a tambourine or a stick and make some percussion.
Or. Use your phone to look up the lyrics to the song we're playing so you can sing along — maybe even harmonize!
Failing that... Dance!!
Image: The Happy Talent
It's a campfire. No one expects you to be Mozart or Mick Jagger. We'll settle for a Bob Dylan or a Mark Madsen.
But it's not just that some people don't play musical instruments.
It's that so many of us grew up in a world in which passive entertainment is easy and ubiquitous... which means our playfulness and leisure skills have suffered. Many of us have very stunted play skills and don't really know how to entertain ourselves.
We only know how to be entertained.
Which is why so many people think it's normal to interrupt a jam session to stream music on their phone.
The great thing about playfulness and leisure skills is that they are just that: skills. Even if yours suck. Even if yours are stunted. You can still develop them.
And you should.
According to research on the topic, including my own, people whose leisure skills are less developed are more likely to have all the bad things happen to them, from anxiety and depression and substance abuse to stomach aches and back pain.
It is better to be able to entertain yourself than it is to depend on technology to entertain you.
And if you're at a campfire with another or other musicians, this is a great time to begin learning new skills -- whether musical or mental.
Another thought on this: I recently wrote Stop Telling Amazing Women That They're "Too Much" and to "Be Less." Instead, Tell YOURSELF You're Too Little and to Be More.
Apparently, my ex-boyfriends' new ladyfriends all read it and had a fit... Creepy, but kinda hilarious. Image: The Happy Talent.
When you do something that stops others from making music because you don't know how to make music, you're telling people to be less. Instead, you should set a goal for yourself to be more.
On the topic of music making. I have a new song out on Spotify!
It's about falling in love at open mic night. And the awesomeness of the girl making the first move. And the powerful and explosive intimacy of small touches with someone you've truly, deeply connected with.
Give it a listen! Give it three! You can even check out the lyrics if you want! I had so much fun recording this with the amazing Patrick B. Ray, and can't wait for future tracks to drop!
5/13/2022 07:17:44 am
Mark Madsen as in the former T'Wolves power forward? 😂 Or is there some other famous Mark Madsen I'm not aware of?
5/13/2022 08:35:38 am
Yes, that Mark Madsen! I love the man as a basketball player... but his dance moves are what I'm referring to here. :P
5/13/2022 09:36:23 am
Haha oh man that's like Crispin Glover in Back to the Future level square white guy dancing! Wow.
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Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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