My heroes are people who shine, act and broadcast clear ideals that have shaped my personality and mission in life. Heroes don’t always save babies in burning buildings. Sometimes they simply show us courageous ways to live in the world. In one way or another, all of my heroes are Not F*ing Around.
Mike Schmidt was one of the first guys I met when I transferred colleges. Somebody I knew told me he played guitar. Cool, but not a huge deal. I knew tons of guys who played guitar. Little did I know that this dude was about to re-frame my entire concept of music (and life)— what it was, how to tap into the deep flow of cosmic creativity, and what rock really meant.
We dragged the amps into some tiny room in the dorms.
“Ok, what do you wanna play? What songs do you know?” I asked.
“Just play,” he replied.
“What do you mean, just play?”
“You play bass, I play guitar. Just play something. I’ll follow you”
I was baffled. Befuddled. What the f*? I didn’t know music theory. I didn’t really understand the concept of the jam. But I had to do something. So I did something.
Although I was basically a loud, low end mess, Mike somehow wove my basslines and chaos into something that, in its best moments, was unmistakably beautiful music.
But it was more than music. It was a metaphor. And a lesson.
This world is a combination of chaos and intention. We can choose the intention, but we cannot even begin to foresee the chaos.
If you have the skills to flow with whatever comes at you, if you posses enough vulnerability to embrace the darkness of dissonance when it appears, if you’re always looking for themes and patterns— you’ll make music out of the notes and chords that are coming at you. And you’ll make sense and beauty out of your life.
And that just rocks.
Mike Schmidt could play that f*ing guitar better than anyone I’d ever known. He pushed me to go way beyond what I currently knew and understood about music. Together we rocked into the worlds of deep space, funk, prog, punk, pop and groove. He forced me to step up my game. Even now, he reminds me to push into the unknown in my music. And in my life.
Thanks for rockin’ me, Mike.
Who has blown your mind creatively?
Who are your heroes?