My Creatively-Charged Household
Over the years, I’ve been accustomed to living in a very creatively charged home and work environment, and I’ve loved it. There was always music being played. Sometimes it was live from some corner of the house, sometimes the sounds came out of Pete’s studio downstairs, in the car, on our phones. Pete spent hours every day playing his guitar and composing while I spent my time working on his career or with my other publicity clients. Music came from every corner and every instrument imaginable. Pete used to say he’d play anything that was stringed and with frets–so one day I’d hear acoustic guitar, then mandolin, then banjo, bousouki, electric guitar, ukelele… My son would play the drums and piano from various locations: his bedroom, the back deck, event the front yard, while my daughter worked up the latest song she had written. All this occurred simultaneously when the kids still lived at home. Eventually they moved out, but Pete was still there, so the music came at me from every direction. I didn’t make the music, but I knew what to do with it when it was finished.
I never thought of myself as a creative force because I'm not artistic, though as I've gotten older I do realize now that the work I do requires creativity–and that type of creativity requires passion and energy–two things that have been very hard to come by lately. Now life is very quiet. Very seldom is an instrument actually played at home. My inspiration has been depleted, so some days, ideas are harder to come by than others. I’m working in a vacuum. (If an idea falls in the forest, is it really an idea?).
Pete and I fed off of each other's creativity in a powerful way. He would play me a tune he was writing, and I'd spit out five marketing ideas–and vice-versa. I would give him an idea for a project, and his blood would start pumping, and his creative juices would flow, and he'd compose something amazing. We would even “co-write.” I specifically put that in quotes because I never actually wrote a note. He would play me something new that he was still in the midst of creating, and he'd say, “Do you like this chord or this chord?” I would ask him to play it a couple of more times, and I’d listen intently. Then I'd say, “I like the first chord better.” Or sometimes he would tell me he needed a title for a song or album project. I would listen a few times and then feed him my thoughts, or we’d brainstorm together until we came up with a title.
One time, about 12 years ago, I was on the couch reading, and he asked if he could play me something that he’d been working on. Of course I said he could. It was beautiful. It was tender. I asked him to play it again, and the second time I just couldn’t help but tear up. There was something graceful and melancholy about it. I know he was touched that I was so moved. I asked him the title and he said it didn’t have one yet, but soon afterward, once he had it recorded, he told me he’d named it “Erin’s Waltz.” When we were getting married a couple of years later I asked that Pete play it as I walked down the aisle. It was perfect to look down that aisle and instead of seeing him standing there stiffly waiting for me, as many grooms do, I saw him there playing his guitar with that huge smile.
Pete used to joke with his audience when he’d introduce this song. He’d tell them, “You too can get a song named after you if you cry.” “Erin’s Waltz” never showed up in print, but a lot of folks know it as “Ellie’s Waltz” from the McGuire's Landing album.
I miss the music and his ideas. They fueled my creative energy.
What sparks your creativity–a person, a song, an environment? I'd love to hear your comments.