Thursday, August 4, 2011

Your Hair! Your Hair Knows!

For a while now I've been thinking about Davey von Bohlen. More specifically, I've been thinking about the way he dealt with his own sickness. I saw The Promise Ring in Toronto sometime in 2001, at this rad Exclaim! Magazine anniversary show that also featured The Constantines and a bunch of other bands who I was stoked on at the time but can't remember now. The show occurred about a year after von Bohlen had had removed a brain tumour the size of a fist. Up on the stage he looked skinnier than normal, uncertain at the microphone, more introspective than usual. The moment that stood out more than others - and is perhaps the only true moment that still exists in my memory - is of him standing on the stage solo, belting at his guitar and singing a song that I later discovered was "Stop Playing Guitar."

At the end of the song he locked onto the final riff, repeating it over and over, changing the lyrics slightly, so instead of "Stop Playing Guitar" he was singing, "I can't play guitar." Everyone in the audience must've known the context, and everyone in the audience's heart must've broken a little bit.

Now that I've figured out the song and read through the lyrics a bit, however, my heart is nicely pieced back together. It's not at all a song about not being able to play guitar. It's a song about what would happen if he'd stopped playing guitar - voluntarily, I guess. He talks about reading more books and going outside more often. It's a pretty positive song, befitting someone who had just escaped a terminal illness.

While my own - as yet undetermined - illness isn't terminal, it is changing the way I think about things. Not being able to ride my bike means that I have time to focus on other things, and I'm guessing that when I have time to ride my bike again, some of these things will linger. Like Davey von Bohlen reading more books and going outside more often, perhaps when I'm back on the bike I'll be more interested in aesthetics, or have a better pedaling action. Who knows.

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