When Words Fail, Music Speaks

Simon Kirke

88+ Ways Music Can Change Your Life, published by Keep Music Alive, is a compilation of  over 150 inspirational stories & quotes from musicians, music educators and music lovers from all over the world. Included are a number of stories from Grammy winning and Platinum selling artists & composers.  The authors have given Music In A Word permission to post contributions to the book and we are thrilled to present one below.

I believe that music is the only true international language that speaks to people of all different races, cultures and religious beliefs. A good piece of music will transcend time. I have been moved, emotionally, by music that was written hundreds of years ago. Listen carefully to the works of the masters: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, Liszt, Chopin, and you'll soon see what I mean.

Simon Kirke performing with Bad Company.

Music bridges generations. I remember being with my mother, and listening to the songs of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, George Gershwin and Rodgers and Hammerstein…and I was an acne ridden teenager just dying to play her the new Beatles album: “Revolver” which, by the way, she really liked.

Throughout my life, there were many artists who influenced me with their music. In no particular order they include Django Rheindhart, Charlie Parker, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, The Stones, Robert Johnson, Maria Callas, Ray Charles, James Jamerson, Louis Armstrong, Buddy Rich, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Jeff Beck and Frankie Miller.

Music has such a therapeutic effect on me and has helped me through many difficult times in my life. It is no secret, that in my early years, I struggled with addiction. In rehab, I was allowed to have a guitar, and as a form of therapy wrote several songs for the album “Seven Rays of Hope”. This experience of expressing myself through these songs, helped me immensely with the healing process, and ultimately helped put my life back in the right direction.

One experience I will always remember, came some time ago, when I was in London participating in a drum clinic. It involved me talking about the drums and cymbals in my kit: explaining what each piece did and how the pieces worked together.

The house lights were down and the stage was illuminated, so I couldn’t really see the audience. Whenever I banged a drum or tapped a cymbal, there was a clatter of clicks from somewhere in the back of the hall. It was kind of irritating, but was brief and not particularly intrusive, so I let it go.

Bad Company in the 70's. That's Simon on the right.

After my brief intro to the delights of the drum kit and drumming styles, I began to play a drum solo. I try to add light and shade to my solos. In the softer parts, I could once again hear a cacophony of clicks and bangs coming from the back of the hall. I gritted my teeth and played on, determined to chastise whoever was trying to disrupt me in my (brief) hour of glory. I came to the end of the solo and took a bow. The emcee thanked me and the audience clapped. Bizarrely, more clicks could be heard through the clapping.

Then, the lights went up. There, in the back of the hall, were about a dozen children in wheelchairs. They each had muscular dystrophy and, in their twisted hands, they held a pair of drumsticks.

I jumped from the stage and began walking towards them, a lump forming in my throat. A lady walked towards me and thanked me for my lecture. She explained to me, that the children used drumming as a form of physical and mental therapy and hoped that their accompaniment didn’t upset me in any way. I went to each child, and fighting back the tears, thanked them for coming.

I now work with teenagers battling addiction here in New York City. Through the power of music, I have seen kids who were sullen and uncooperative, transform over time, into happy participants... eager to pick up a tambourine or play a guitar or sing or provide lyrics.

Music has been my constant companion since I was a child. It has offered me hope and comfort in difficult times, has been a source of frustration and, more often than not, a beacon of inspiration.

There are many quotes about the power of music, and here are two of my favorites: “Where words fail, music speaks” by Hans Christian Andersen and “Music from the soul can be heard by the universe” by Lao Tzu.

A lot of Simon's solo music is introspective and quiet.  Here is is tune from his previous solo album "Filling The Void."

 

Drummer Simon Kirke was a founding member of two of the 70's most popular bluesy hard rocker bands - Free and Bad Company. A multi-instrumentalist, Simon is best known for his loose, yet powerful back-beat drumming and for co-writing hits like, "All Right Now," "Can't Get Enough," "Bad Company" and "Ready for Love," with longtime bandmate and singer, Paul Rodgers. His latest solo album is "All Because of You" (BMG Records) will be released in February, 2017.

   

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88+ Ways Music Can Change Your Life

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