Everyone seems to think I am a stalker. A Ben Harper stalker to be exact. The fact that I wrote a song for him on my Call It Love album (With You) does not make me look innocent by a long shot. So allow me to explain and then you can decide whether I am guilty of those charges or not..
It all started when I saw Ben Harper live in Montruex. I was so new to his music that I couldn’t even sing along! I stood alone at the back of the hall, the night before I was meant to take the stage, and…cried. I cried because I felt alone. I cried because I had no idea of the life I wanted to live. A few years later when I found myself at the beach at 3am devoid of all hope and again I sobbed bitterly. Deep within there was a void (forgive me Zakes Mda) and I had no idea if anything could fill or I heal it. In that moment of blackening despair his music, the cadence of his voice pulled from that abyss… Finally I could curl my back against the world and feel safe…
My daughter calls him The Harp and loves ripping me off. I often wondered if I could ever express how his music affected me. Alas, life took care of that when her world was torn asunder by my divorce. Suddenly this happy-go-lucky kid was transformed into a sullen, silent stranger. That is until she found solace in Green Day, Kurt Cobain and a host of rock and punk musicians. Finally, she understood. Now she sings along to The Power Of The Gospel, pulls weird faces and mockingly proclaims, “Hey Momma! This is my jam!”
The love of music is our common ground. She sketches, I read and the music plays. Just the other day she gifted me with all the Arctic Monkeys music available online. Yes, yes, it was her favorite band until I stole them. Payback for stealing my beloved Radiohead by the way. Before you ask I do make fun of her favorite musicians (it is my sacred right as her Mother).”Girly, if Shmeagol from Lord of the Rings had to start a punk band…then they would sound like Bring Me The Horizon!” Yet often I find myself humming along to their music. When she catches me in the act she says, “I see you like Shmeagol and his gang.” And Dammit all…I do!
Back to the seriousness of music. Musicians like Ben Harper remind me why I chose to be a musician. And often I need to be reminded especially when money runs low or I have a bout of writer’s block. I sing, we sing not for fame or fantastic wealth (yes, it would be great if it came, along with tall male groupies!) I sing, we sing…because there is nothing else we would rather do. We sing because by doing so we heal ourselves. We sing because when we do so we offer the best of ourselves to those who will listen, to those who need to hear.
I will leave you with this Ben Harper quote. “Music is the last true voice of the human spirit. It can go beyond language, beyond age, and beyond color straight to the mind and heart of all people.”
So go home, kick off your shoes, make some coffee, switch off your tv, lie on your couch with a blanket, put on some great music and… listen.