Art and life co-habitate, informing, imitating, and enriching each other constantly. Each week in Better Living Through Music, RFT Music writer Ryan Wasoba explores this symbiotic relationship
Thanksgiving is not a hip holiday. The thought of actually spending the day giving thanks is cheesy, but there's nothing lame about gratitude. This year, I suggest you find ways to earnestly and sincerely thank those in the local music community whose actions or words have enriched your life.
Say, for example, you love a specific song by a local band. I have a soft spot for "You Can't Have It All" by Pretty Little Empire. 'Tis the season to tell the band, "Thanks for making that song. I love the way the instruments come back in after the hook." The more specific, the better. "Hey Stan Chisholm, that line in 'Ice Cold Tofu' by 18andCounting about seasonal depression and lucky rabbits' feet is one of the smartest lyrics I've heard in a while."
This is not ego stroking, this is breaking the barrier of cool that too often keeps us from adequately nerding out over those whose work we admire. "Beth Bombara, you have a beautiful voice and I respect your work ethic." Sometimes the bonds are so close between those in this community that compliments are difficult to give or take. Screw that. "Hey, So Many Dynamos, that new EP is so very good, I'm incredibly proud of you guys, and I can't wait for the full length."
Giving musical thanks is a two-way street. If you are in a band, don't just send out a generic "Happy Thanksgiving, thanks for your support" Tweet or a Facebook status message. Find the profile of that one guy who always comes to your shows but never says hi, and thank him for being there for you. Find that girl who was the only person who bought merch from you the one night you opened for that hyped up band who was supposed to be a big deal but nobody really came to the show. Tell her that this gesture made your day. Musicians, forget not the gratitude towards other musicians whose work has been meaningful to you. "Sine Nomine, The Lion's Daughter, and The Gorge, thank you all for being my gateway into loving heavy music again." Even if the influence is outdated, thankfulness never expires. "Dear Nathan Bernaix, I cannot begin to tell you how much your songs in Target Market inspired me to push myself creatively, even if I was trying to top you."
If your community extends out of the general St. Louis metropolitan area, your appreciation should too. Text that guy who let you crash at his place in Oklahoma City. Send a nice email to the band who helped you get a show in Chicago. Buy a cheap greeting card at Deal$ and send it to that dude who runs that label in Brooklyn who wanted to put out a limited cassette run of your last EP but it turned out to not be financially viable. He'll love it.
I find it hard to talk about this subject without feeling lame, but that's how I feel about loving music in general. Deep down, music is as direct an extension of ourselves as I see possible. Because of this, we are constantly showing gratitude, even if it is subconscious. Every song we listen to, every G chord we strum, every lyric we write down, every note we sing in the shower is a small gesture to the vague spirit that is music. So for one day, one weekend, one season, let us be direct in our giving of thanks. It's what the pilgrims would have wanted.