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Sometimes You Just Have to Play

When I first started playing the guitar, I always felt it was necessary to sit down and make myself write a song. I had all these visions in my head about how the song should be written. I would pound my head against the wall trying to come up with something anything. I would listen to what was on the radio or dive into my CD collection looking for answers on how my song should sound. I tried writing Death Metal, Pop Rock, and even some Blues. I was desperate to write a song. When I would sit down to try to write a song, I would get so frustrated that I would actually start to hate playing the guitar. I wanted to smash it on the ground. I would put it down and not pick it up for weeks, due to the frustration. Don't get me wrong - I did get plenty of riffs written and even a few lyrics, but something was wrong. It just did not sound right and it surely did not "feel" right for that matter. I was trying so hard to make a great song like Van Halen, or Stevie Ray Vaughn, or one of the 90's hits on the radio. I felt hopeless.

"If you believe in yourself and the music you create, other people will believe it too."
Then, one day I decided to pick up the guitar, kick on the drum machine, and just play. I put no thought to what I was doing. I just let it happen. It was then that it all came out. The more I just sat and played, the better I felt, and the music just poured out. I did not need to concentrate on one genre or how I wanted to the song to come out. It just did. All my musical influences from early childhood on just poured right out with my individuality. It blew me away. I recorded everything I did. I was writing 3 songs a day. Then, one day I sat back and listened to the music I had created and I started to question it, even though I absolutely loved what I had created. I though "This has an awful 80's ring to it." "I do not sound like the music that's out today." "I do not sound as good as Van Halen." "My leads are nothing compared to Stevie Ray Vaughn". I almost got myself right back in the rut I was originally in - frustrated and nowhere.

Why? It was because I questioned myself and thought that I had to sound like someone else to write a good song. I came to the realization that what I wrote was from within; it's what was in my heart. Even if no one else liked the music, it did not matter. I had to be happy with it - not everyone else. Of course I was unable to sound like Van Halen. That is because I wasn't Van Halen! Of course my leads were not going to sound like Stevie. Stevie was Stevie and no one else on earth could touch that. It was his heart talking through the music, not mine. Of course I wasn't going to sound like today's music; I grew up in the 70's and 80's. Why would I sound like the 90's? What I played and the songs I wrote were from within, not from someone else, but from me. They are comprised of all the music I grew up with along with my own individuality. I did not have to work at them - I just sat and played and they came out. I absolutely love the music I have written. I love to play it and get a great feeling from it. To me, that's the key, no matter what it is you write, what genre, how many chords, full chords, power-chords, or single notes. As long as its what you feel, it's right. You have to be happy with what you write. Not me, not John Smith, You! To me this is the greatest achievement any musician could strive for. To create music that is from within you, not this group or that group. Of course your influences will come through since this is only natural. But don't kick yourself in the butt for not sounding exactly like them. It's impossible because you are not your influences.

Strive to be yourself through your music; you cannot go wrong. No one can ever doubt what is in you heart but you. If you believe in yourself and the music you create, other people will believe it too. You do not have to work at it; it's right there inside of you. Just sit down and play and eventually it will all come out. And it will be beautiful music to your ears.

Laura Wilson is a guitarist, 3 years in the making, who plays from within.