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Singer, Songwriter, and...Unfulfilled,
OCD-Suffering Suck-Fest? Read On, True Believer...


When music introduced itself...

When I was about, say, five years old... 

...I heard an ocean-echoing guitar introduce "Sailing" by Christopher Cross. I was...entranced? Charmed? Bedazzled? And a new feeling -- a warm needling in my stomach and behind my heart -- spun up something fully alive and unnaturally electric.


And then, it happened again...

There were warm, wavering, melodic and harmonizing tones soundtracking the crawling remnants of humanoid super-technology. Innovation hit its peak, was perhaps overzealous, and cast aside through national upheaval and committed to, with great violence, a slow decay in dunes of weeping rust. 

Man and technology sang, buzzed, and perished together, and Gary Numan captured these historical duets in the most beseeching analog synth sounds. That melodic synth line in "Cars?" Good GOD, I was still so very young, but oh-so-very smitten.  

And again...

A few years later, perhaps in my early teens (or right before stumbling awkwardly through their perilous glass doors), I was walking the mall (as one did in 1980-something-whatever). Casually passing a RadioShack, I was hit by the most beautiful cathedral-reflecting guitar sound; and that fuzzy needling, again launched from my centermost bits, entreated me to hold fast and find the source of something far too holy for a tastelessly carpeted RadioShack.  

Yep, it was the last few moments of "Pride (in the name of love)." It was pouring out of a giant TV framed in lacquered wood, and from a band named....U-what?

I would hear this song again, echoing from the hallways of a college dormitory where I stayed during summer soccer camp. It was between practice sessions, and my friends and I had time to hit the pool. They left, but I decided to stay behind....and listen -- to finally hear, in its entirety, that cloud-cascading guitar, and a voice compressing a thousand powerful feelings into one commanding outcry.

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And then, I heard that voice....

...which led to a relatively healthy Progressive Rock obsession.

At the end of 'Legend', a beautiful, unique, and presumed female voice sung above an electronic fantasy sound environment sculpted by Tangerine Dream. I turned to my father and asked, "Who is that singer, Dad? Is that...Grace Slick? Whoever she is? She's AMAZING." My father immediately corrected me: "Oh, no. That's a man; that's Jon Anderson."

And yes, you could say my immediate mission was to track down this voice, this man, and all the music he charmed out of the spiritual ether... 

Which, of course, led to vast and still occurring musical discoveries.... YES, GENESIS, RUSH, ELP, the Neo-Prog movement of the '90s (I love you, Iluvatar!!), and....yeah. It was music with grand melodic statements occasionally committed to clever classical structure -- music played with incomparable skill and/or jazz-like abandon, invoking great aural dventures and sonically palpable journeys. Because you weren't just listening -- you were a traveler, and the music your winged, one-eyed, surrealism-choked chariot. 


And, while making said discoveries and connecting deeply with music, I slowly fell apart.

OCD? It's a deluded, persistent, persuasive little b*tch luring you into unrelenting thought-pretzels tightening with each rational rebuttal. You can't apply reason, and you can't hope to eject its deeply burrowing tendrils with several hundred reality-based counterarguments.

Throughout adolescence, it drove me slightly insane, and I tried keeping it under wraps, because the '80s -- although a romanticized period slathered in soft neon and soundtracked by the Atari 2600 -- still applied a strong stigma to mental illness. Basically, I would have preferred dying by hidden, upright pitchfork than confide in my parents.

Unfortunately (but gratefully), I could no longer counter the odd obsessive thoughts and their terrifying behavioral demands, and confessed years of inner torture to my shocked-to-hell, not-ready-for-this-AT-ALL-but-putting-on-a-brave-face mother. Not a great day, but ultimately, a chance to heal -- to finally get help.



And then, things were "okay" (kind of/maybe/certainly not all the time).

And through years of therapy, medication, music (making and listening), comic books (like Planetary/The Authority/Animal Man, too many to list here), anime (especially those featuring giant super-robots), movies, sci-fi, and whatever fictional realms I gravitated towards and obsessively collected, I managed to -- and still manage to -- function....more or less.

Believe me, there are still significant issues from time to time (like the 10+ years I denied myself real rest until I attained super-stardom). But as of this writing, and with an excellent balance of medications, I have found, regardless of my current station,a little island of inner peace -- and it is GLORIOUS.


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