Why I Do What I Do
It was 1968, the summer after the third grade – I was 9. I was living in Lunenburg, MA at the time on a small farm. I was sent to stay with my father’s sister Agnes in Bellingham MA because my mother was ill. Let’s stop here for a second.
“You keep your cards close.” People still say this about me. I’m not a gut spiller unless I’ve had a few too many, but even then I have limits – on the gut spilling that is. One of my ex-girlfriends complained at the end of a long relationship “I don’t even know you!” My bad. Unfortunately there is more than an element of truth in that. Don’t get me wrong, I will still keep my cards close – except not so much in my music and blogs.
The part I usually leave out of this story is that my mother was in Gardner State Mental Hospital at the time. She was severely depressed, afraid to leave the house and spent most of her time in bed. She cried all the time. At least that is how it seemed. Edith recovered a few years later even when she had to face the tragic loss of a 17 year old son
Being separated from my mother at a young age, losing a brother at a young age, and having an early life of turmoil – excellent breeding ground for a songwriter, poet or artist. Maybe not so good for other paths in life. But don’t get me wrong, many kids I knew had it much worse and I am certainly not a victim forever defined by my youth. I did manage to have a lot of fun as a kid in spite of all that and for me there is no doubt the experiences of my youth set me on a creative course in life.
Back to the story. Aunt Agnes was a divorced school teacher who lived in Bellingham, MA. She was not the warm and fuzzy, affectionate type, but she took me in for the summer and for that I am forever grateful. She lived next door to some kids that would have a huge impact on me; Rick and Mike Ianetta .These guys were a little older than me, they were cool, they were tough, they had girl friends, and they played guitar. They showed me Sunshine of Your Love and Wipe Out and I was hooked for life. The guitar would bring me great joy and fun, and get me through tragic and lonely times and help me grieve.
For me, playing guitar and songwriting for me has helped to justify all the pain in life. When I look back and think – that sucked – at least I can say, “Hey at least I got some songs out of that”, and I can reshuffle the deck in a more positive light.
Every sound, every word, every image, every let down, every failure, every tragedy and every ounce of joy and happiness however transient, has an impact on our creativity giving us opportunities and tools to allow divergence. But what good is all this divergence if it is not shared. That is where you come in. What good is having songs banging around my head for months on end and ripping my heart out in the studio unless I can share the results? In the end, the only thing that really matters is YOU.
If you’d like to hear my work, click here to check out my album, ‘Not My Job‘. You will not be disappointed.
Thank you for being a listener and for making it all matter.
Rockin’ Ed Thomas.