With every decision we make, we are pushing something forward in the world, small or large. I'm talking about the idea of carrying a torch in relation to music in this post but you could apply the metaphor to any aspect of your life - what you eat, what you wear, what kinds of jokes you make, etc.
I am starting to understand that my need to write music is the carrying of a torch. The torch is a burning flame combining everything I love - the dreamy, dark chord world of Janacek and Schumann, the vocal gestures and emotion of Jim Morrison, Tori Amos and others, classical piano and Beethoven's string quartets, not to mention jazz, atonal and experimental music. This and much more is in my torch and combines to form my music - my sound world.
Each of the people I mentioned above carried a torch of the things they loved and felt driven to put forward. Our lifetime is short and I see my task in music as being an amplification of the things I love and find important.
In classical music everything was written down and therefore I can study a piano sonata that was written two hundred years ago and give a performance that I can be fairly sure is similar to one that was given 200 years ago. On the one hand this is fantastic - what a preservation!
But quite honestly studying classical piano, as beautiful and enriching as it was, left me with an emptiness and the feeling that I was putting myself in a museum. I devoted countless hours to someone else's music and expression. That stopped making sense to me.
And while it is fun to cover a Beatles song, the song is so interwoven with the performers, as with all good pop music, that really it doesn't call out to be reproduced (in my opinion) for any serious musical reasons, besides as a tribute to the original artist. Most covers are fun or nostalgic - drinking a beer, playing guitar and singing a good ol' Beatles tune never did no one no harm.
In connection with this idea of covering songs, I think pop music is more comparable to folk music in terms of what is preserved and that is why I try to see myself as simply a torch carrier in my lifetime. When I die, my music dies but perhaps some elements of Janacek, Schumann, Beethoven, Mingus, Feldman etc. will live beyond me in this world thanks to my devotion.
Whatever happens, my devotion is true and my discipline strong. In a time where popular music has become a capitalistic product that often leaves me desiring more depth and sincerity, I am happy to be independent and experimental - to be totally loyal to the things that inspire me no matter what.
I feel this way about my musical torch and any other that I carry. It may light the way unconventionally - it may burn a different shade of fire and earn me funny sideways glances - but it always lights a fulfilling and truthful path.