(If you come here for the coffee, please come back tomorrow. This post is for Ride and Ride fans. It started with me trying to compose a Tweet, then a Facebook post, and then I realized it was really too long for even that so here we are.)
Dear Andy, Laurence, Mark, and Steve:
It has truly been a privilege and an honor to be a Ride fan for the past 23 years. I discovered your music in 1992 when I was 12, and many times over the years, I’ve lamented that I wasn’t a bit older and that I hadn’t discovered Ride’s music sooner so that I could have experienced your music live. However, I do think that your music came into my life at exactly the right time for me, and it’s been a source of wonder and inspiration for me for over two decades.
Fast forward to 2015, and I am in disbelief that I hold in my hand a ticket to see the four of you at Terminal 5 in New York City. I was excited, but also nervous about how I would feel to see one of my dreams come into fruition. How could mere mortals live up to the pedestal I had built up in my head? The moment right before the four of you launched into Leave Them All Behind will always be burned into my brain – the anticipation, the energy crackling in the room, the moment between nothing and SOMETHING – art being created right before my eyes and ears; beauty coming into the world out of thin air. The first phrase knocked me absolutely breathless, and you all just kept on coming at us. Song after song, I was struck not only by your legendary sonic assault on our ears, but the fact that it wasn’t simply loud for loudness’ sake – there was a majesty and a gravity to it that just can’t be experienced any other way. I was torn between closing my eyes to give myself over to the rapture of the sound, and opening them to really see this moment that I had been dreaming of for so long. I alternated between both. Loz’s drumbeats became my heartbeats. You all wrestled my soul from my body and took me on an unforgettable musical journey that night.
That first Ride concert of mine was magic and an incredible gift that I never expected to receive, and I knew that I had to experience it again if I could, so I was thrilled to make plans to see you in Birmingham, AL and in Austin, TX. When I found out there was a possibility of meeting you all through the VIP tickets, I jumped at the opportunity but had some misgivings about it… I am not great at meeting new people, much less my musical heroes, and the last thing I wanted was for you to feel put-upon or uncomfortable. It was refreshing to get to talk a bit to Loz and Steve and to find out that you’re all just four normal guys, who happen to make some of the most extraordinary music I’ve ever heard. Though I didn’t get to chat with Mark or Andy, I could see them interacting with other fans with genuine smiles and it warmed my heart.
As a classical musician, I feel the societal pressure at times to justify my existence and my value to the world at large. The conception is that music isn’t a “real job,” or is somehow not essential for life. Yet how many people out there can imagine their lives without music? It plays an essential part in our joy at celebrations, and says what words cannot in moments of deep sorrow. It lets us experience empathy by allowing us to get inside the soul of another. It expresses that which cannot be said any other way. It is both deeply rooted in its time, and transcends time to touch people far removed from when and where it was written. The best music not only touches our souls and reminds us what it is to feel, it captivates and inspires the mind to see how much beauty there is in the world. Music and art may not be essential ingredients for life, but they are keys to truly living.
There might be a finite amount of energy in the world (“energy converted, never gone…”), but I think there is the possibility of an infinite, unlimited amount of beauty. There are those that destroy beautiful things and injure the psyche of humanity, and there are those that make creating beauty their life’s work – challenging, thought-provoking, soul-touching, life-altering beauty. You gentlemen have done and are doing something so noble with every note that you play and every breath that you breathe. I may have felt I was born a little too late, but I also feel so incredibly lucky to get to share this space and time with the art that you create.
2015 has been a dream come true. I may never get the chance to meet you again (and I do regret not being able to thank and talk to all four of you), but what I did get to experience has been more than I ever could have asked for. I think one reason that I respond so strongly to your music is because you are expressing what you know and feel to be true, which is why I must thank you again for sharing your truth with the world.
Hope to see you all at a future show. I will be a Ride fan until my dying day, and probably even after that.