Music is a Very Powerful Thing - Nostalgia

A personal essay on what music and the relationships therein mean to me, as a musician.

By Scott Mathson, Web Guy • 990 words

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Music is a very powerful thing.

At times in my life I’ve completely embraced music, noting (and absolutely feeling) it to be an important part of me, of who I am and of who I labeled myself as for a number of years. Although I don’t call or introduce myself as a musician anymore, it’s surely shaped me into who I’ve become. Do I miss it? Absolutely.

Time travel is possible, it’s accomplished by listening to the songs that you may have enjoyed years ago. This time travel can run, and mean something, much deeper, as a musician. It probably seems weird for me to admit that every couple of years or so, I like to listen back on my songs and song collaborations that I had done with musicians friends of mine. Writers read their own articles and books, right? I think so.

Here’s my story:

Every so often, I intentionally make some time to dig into the archives of the music I recorded for/by myself and for/with other musicians. This audio production and recording hobby-turned-business started in 2007 and was on/off for a number of years. Every time I listen to these archived creations, I find myself feeling this extreme sense of nostalgia, as I’m instantly taken back to that moment in time. The sounds, words, rhythm, and tone swell up a massive wave of memories, emotions, and a sense of time.

I’m sure most of us have experienced this in one form or another, in life. Nostalgia is amazing, it surfaces these happy or sad memories, it can transport us back in time, to a certain place. I’m finding it hard to find the words to express these feelings that come up. A few things are certain: it’s genuine, it’s raw, it’s real, and I honestly love it.

“Listen to a song that triggers personal memories, and your prefrontal cortex, which maintains information relevant to your personal life and relationships, will spring into action.” From Nueral Nostalgia - By Mark Joseph Stern


Throughout my years as a musician, I collaborated—jammed (calling it what I knew it as - “jamming/jam/jammed”) with a number of talented, young musicians. A good friend of mine, Mat Keller, and I had a particularly tight, musical bond and connection. We played coffee shops and local pubs together, as our parents encouraged us to chase our dreams - that’s an even deeper topic/potential future article and something that I’ll always be thankful for: the support from and encouragement given by my family.

Mat went on to release a solo album that he generously featured me on, playing electric, lead guitar for a track or two and drums (my first instrument learned/played as a young musician). For years, we wrote and covered songs together - it’s a time in my life that I honestly have very fond memories of.

Today I was taken back to sometime in late 2008 or early 2009. A time with acoustic guitars, two shaggy-haired, inspired musicians, sitting in creaky chairs in a basement with an aroma of spent, musky incense. The song: “All My Loving”, originally by The Beatles.

Listen:

Listen on SoundCloud

Now this wasn’t, by any means, our best-sounding recording or our most-produced piece of work.

That’s exactly what I love about it.

To me, it’s all about the final chuckles at the end, followed by me saying “I fucked up those harmonies”. The unpracticed, uncoordinated first take of the song. I can hear the smiles in our voices, as one or the other realized they’ve “messed up”.

I REMEMBER THAT!

Listening to this, I am there again, as my memories paint the picture together of that guitar, that jam session, those surroundings, the chairs, the drums in the distance, microphones, that desk, and all of the laughs.

Music is a very powerful thing.


There’s more to the story, and this nostalgia has me questioning things.

A lot can change in 8 or 9 years, and Mat and I (alongside a handful of my musician friends) have generally, unfortunately lost touch. Hearing these songs, reliving these memories, remembering those tight bonds are the missing pieces to this nostalgic puzzle of aesthetic emotions that make me ask myself: “Why?”

Why did I ever stop playing music?

Why did I stop jamming, stop songwriting, stop recording, or stop hanging out with these friends?

A personal letter to my friends:

To Mat, to Michelle, to Aaron, Jacob, Josh, Brian...and many others,

I'm sorry.

You met me as, or knew me as a musician - we connected in one way or another, on that level.

We listened, we wrote, we recorded, we performed, we learned, we collabora—we fucking jammed!

And then it stopped. And oh, how I miss it. So I'll ask you, while asking myself: "Why?"

You know me - I've always been what I now call, a Maker, and creativity is truly embedded in my core. This craft that I've been developing over the years, that I now do for a living, Web Design/Development, truly is amazing - it's not music, but it is amazing. Woodworking was amazing. I simply need to be making something, creating something, expressing myself in some way.

Don't forget who we were, who you are. Don't forget what's shaped you into the person you are today.

I hope that you're (and know that some of you are) still making things. Have you, too, moved on from music? I hope that you're expressing yourself and staying creative!

Your work, your craft, your talents were and still are, a very amazing phenomenon.

That's because you & I are a fucking musician! 🤘

Love, Scott