Today, October 9th is the birthday of two people who have been very inspirational to me over the years – Jackson Browne and John Lennon. Lennon would have turned 73 years old today if he had not been gunned down in NYC when he was only 40 years old. I admire both of these men, not only for their incredible skills in writing but also for their activism and courage to stand behind their beliefs.
I had the honor of meeting Jackson after one of his concerts last October. It was a memorable moment. Jackson had allowed me to use his song, “Alive in the World” in my film, Opening Our Eyes and it had been arranged for me to personally thank him after the show. He was warm and generous with his time and we talked a bit about the blues – a topic that continues to surface in my life.
The blues (music) seems to be the foundation of many of the musicians that inspire me. The blues is authentic and that authenticity comes through in the lyrics of both Jackson and John. Throughout their songs, we get a very clear idea of how they feel and think. They share their frailties and inner thoughts as we see them as real people just like us.
I suppose a lot of us think it’s too risky to be so open with our thoughts and our hearts and choose instead to bury our dreams, desires and fears inside the deepest recesses of our minds. A lot of angst can come sometimes from remembering things that have happened in our past – things we did or wished we had done – things we said and wished we hadn’t said – you know all those fleeting thoughts that seem to haunt us at times. None of us can change the past – it has already happened. But we all can choose how we let our past affect our present and our future.
Some of us try to “block out” the painful things that have happened in our lives. I have found that I can’t really succeed in doing that because there will always be something that will trigger a memory. In fact when I try to “close myself” off like that, it actually just continues the pain, because I’m expending negative energy, trying to “block” it out . Instead, I try to channel those thoughts when they come, into more positive energy by reminding myself who I am, not how someone or something made me feel.
Everyone has ups and downs in their lives – it comes with being human. That’s why the music and lyrics of Lennon and Browne resonate with their fans – they can relate- as humans. I think as creative people we can learn from these two musicians – how to take chances and how to be true to ourselves and follow our own path – regardless of how unconventional it may seem to others . When we are true to ourselves, we will find that our future direction will unfold as it should – we just need to get out of our own way.
“You don’t need anybody to tell you who you are or what you are. You are what you are!” John Lennon