As I have said elsewhere, I am driven at the moment by a sense of being over halfway through my life (if I am lucky) and for the first time the sense of time not being unlimited is becoming rather real. This isn’t something you grasp when you’re young, but heading towards my 50th, and the recent loss of my lovely father-in-law are events which have triggered an uncomfortable awareness of mortality.
The mid-life crisis is a real thing. I don’t know how others feel, but I certainly am filled with a sense of urgency. This is difficult to write without sounding unoriginal and cliched. The question is, what do I do? Have an affair? Go on Tinder? Hunt down Norman Reedus, kidnap him and keep him in my basement?
Well, publishing this blog is step one. I have read that one step towards happiness is to create and achieve goals. With that in mind, I have decided to set myself a goal: To learn drums well enough to be able to play the track to Pearl Jam’s ‘Alive’ from the album 10.
This album is brilliant. It came out it 1991 when I was 22, but I didn’t get to know it properly for another three or four years. By then I had left university and had started my career as a teacher. My parents were working in Indonesia and Japan, leaving me and my brother to look after the house. Big mistake. My brother is the coolest person I know. At the time he was 23 with shoulder-length marmalade curls and in a band called Zed’s Dead, later Zed.
He inspired me to start learning the bass guitar ( I already had grade 5 classical guitar) and I started hanging around with his mates and getting to know the local music scene. I got together with a few other musicians and we started gigging around the area, grunge covers mostly, then some of our own stuff. We even recorded a studio album – happy to send out copies if anyone is interested.
It wasn’t anything special, nothing like as talented as my brother’s band, but we had a whale of a time. 10 is the soundtrack for that time of my life. Recently divorced from my first husband (who not only got my best friend pregnant but followed that up with a string of affairs – I’ll write about that someday), I was completely over relationships and just wanted to focus on my work and being in the band. We had a blast. Rehearsing regularly, playing in dodgy pubs and then laughing in motorway service stations late into the night. I’d often go into work having only had one or two hours’ sleep. My brother and I were also looking after (with little help) our 92 year old grandmother but, again, that’s another story.
So I spent my days teaching (my absolute first love), then coming home listening to music and going out and playing in pubs. I remember a night in a tiny pub with only one (drunk) man paying any attention to us, and all he did was yell ‘Play Black Magic Woman!’ over and over again.
So maybe that’s it, I want to recreate some of the fun I had then. I haven’t had fun like that for a very long time. Not that I don’t adore my children and my husband; I am very happy. It’s just not quite the same as playing Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana covers to a smoky room of stoned 19 year olds: Now that’s fun.
I loved, loved, loved Pearl Jam. And I was obsessed with ‘Ten’. ‘Alive’ was, and still is my favourite track. Eddie Vedder has one of the most affecting voices I have ever heard. And he’s still going strong. So this journey is also a bit of a tribute to the members of Pearl Jam and their incredible music.
Having downloaded the drum sheet music for this song I am rather daunted, there are some crazy-arse rhythms in this. Let’s hope I can find a drum teacher who can help…
My dream, and I can’t believe I am writing this, is to find some people to play with me and then play, onstage, in front of some kind of audience. I’ll need a singer, 2 guitarists, a cellist and pianist. Maybe I can get my brother to come on board? If I set a date of June 2018 this will force me to make sure I get good enough to play the damn thing by then. Eek! Just thinking about it is making my heart pound. But screw it, why not have a go? If I fail I fail. At least I’ve tried. And I’ll put the video on here.
So let me get to the point. I have rambled on long enough. Here is my goal:
I hereby proclaim my mission for Summer 2018
- Goal: To learn to play the drums, then focus on learning how to play the drum accompaniment to Pearl Jam’s ‘Alive’
- Timescale: To be achieved by June 2018 when I may have an opportunity to do it live in front of an audience
- Result: To upload a video of me playing it to this blog to prove that middle-aged women who you would not look twice at in the street can be rock goddesses.