Five Hours

This Computer Kills (circa 2001)
Before I could drive, I played guitar. I've been playing more than half my life. And, like all future bass players, I wasn't very good at it. I made peace with the big strings, found a couple dudes, and started a band.

Guns and Roses we were not. There was no sex. No girls. No drugs. Just rock 'n roll. We were loser kids. We played in our parents' basements and garages. During the winter, my Dad left a heater on so we could play until our fingers fell off. Only one of us had a car. We didn't really have any friends other than each other.

And, if I may be so bold, we were good. At least better than the bands I started later in life. In truth, we didn't have any other choice. All we did was play. We didn't have any other life. We didn't play because we were trying to get big. We wouldn't even have known what that would have meant. We played because, after school, we didn't have anything else to do. Look at us. We obviously didn't play sports. We played for hundreds of hours, wrote dozens of songs, and played and played and played. We didn't schedule rehearsals once a week for a couple hours. It was all we did.

There's no science to making great things. The bands I started when I was seventeen weren't inherently better than the ones I'd start now. But they were better. I have a life now. There are dates, and work, and writing, and acting, and so on. And all these things steal time. I'd write the same riff now as I would have then. But now it'd never get refined. We couldn't spend a month retooling the same jam until it shredded. Playing more often doesn't make you a better artist. It makes you a better editor. It means you don't have to turn in your first draft.

Time is everything. I have a growing resumé of mediocre skills. And when I wonder why I'm passable and not great, I think about the kid I was ten years ago. Greatness is narrow. And it makes me wonder if making a great record is worth more than having someone to share my nights with.

Assuming a decent night's sleep, there are sixteen viable hours in a day. That's it. Subtract time for eating, and showering, and getting from here to there, and standing in lines, and brushing your teeth, and doing the dishes. What's left? Maybe five hours. You decide who you are with those five hours. Make 'em count.

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