I have always loved the phrase, marching to the beat of a different drummer.
In some ways, this is a great thing to attain but in other ways, it is dumb. In marching band, it would have been quite hilarious if I was marching to the beat of a different drummer, especially if many of us were doing that very same thing. In fact, our drum section had people playing many different beats but that’s not what I’m talking about. They were just horrible. I’m talking about going down different paths.
I studied Jazz music in college. It was one of my great passions and I still love to devour those songs on Spotify at times. But I was always fascinated by my friend, Lynn, who had this uncanny ability to hear things I didn’t hear. In some ways, I couldn’t even hear them. I remember this one solo on this one song that he heard something I had simply missed.
There is an album I have called the Marsalis Family Celebration where Wynton, Branford, Delfeayo, and Jason join together to celebrate their father, Ellis, retiring from the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. They perform one of my favorite jazz standards called Struttin’ for Some Barbeque (an old Louis Armstrong tune) and Branford Marsalis has this great soprano sax solo that I played for Lynn. Honestly, I didn’t play just that solo. I played the whole ten minute song for him but when Branford came in for his part, Lynn rewound the song like 10 times.
Yes, he hit multiple digits before saying a word. He simply made a “woah” sound and then hit rewind. I made a dumb Chris Tucker joke saying that he shouldn’t touch a black man’s radio but he ignored me and kept rewinding this one part.
First off, he should have laughed at my joke. Second off, he did not rewind the song for the whole Branford solo but just the first 6 notes. Just the first 6. And Lynn was fascinated because in those 6 quick notes that are easy to miss, he heard something that I had not. And I love him for that. I’m also jealous for him having that insane ability. (If you want to see what I’m referring to, click here and watch this. Fast forward to 4:15 and stop at 4:18. Yes, it is like 2 seconds of a solo. Then go watch the whole thing because it is so awesome and your ears will thank you).
I still listen to this solo on occasion because it is so incredible and every time that solo starts, I remember driving home with Lynn in my car rewinding it over and over to soak it all in.
Because I realized in that moment that some people are just flat out miles ahead of me and I’m not going to catch up. Running a marathon with Vickie and trying to keep up would be a disaster for me and for her. Because we are not on the same level and that is okay. But I did realize that I need to slow down and pay more attention to those things because that may be the main difference between those farther along than us. They are just hearing better because they have more practice than us. They are more attuned to what is going on. So take notes and do what they do and you’ll be greatly enhanced because of it.
My friend Lynn pays attention much better than I do when it comes to notes being played and I’m glad I witnessed it firsthand because it greatly enhanced every other song I heard going forward. I was never the same after that experience and you can ask some of my friends, I have the tendency to rewind and make sure others catch the things I’m hearing or at least get annoyed by what I’m doing. Either way is fine with me.
The sad thing about this story is that since that time, Lynn and I have not kept in touch but I know he is doing awesome things. I have heard he is playing with Prince these days. Yes, that Prince. Here is a clip I have found of Lynn playing in case you’re interested.
I know that there is a spiritual principle to this listening but I don’t want to Jesus juke you into it so you can do itself but thanks for reading. And I hope this finds you, Lynn. Miss you buddy.