Smoking Time

Time takes a cigarette – presumably has a draw – drops it on the floor…yes, thank you Mr. Bowie. Time squashes the butt into the ground. Well Time probably doesn’t concern itself so much with smoking…but who knows? Time – indecipherable - measured only by itself: a minute is a minute; a second is a second - it is heavily affected by OUR perception of it; thus time DOES slow down and speed up depending on the circumstances. There is NO accurate measurement of time either. Even the finest atomic clocks are slightly – and I mean SLIGHTLY (!) out. But whatever time is – when we look in the mirror we can see its effects.

I play drums – I deal in time. Chopping up those beats; putting three beats where four would normally exist then squashing five into the same place. This hand playing three against the other hand’s two – you get the idea. I play drums therefore I am “in time” (one hopes). And just as music itself exists through time – time making the abstract real – then we too become real in our perceived time on this earth. We are liberated and confined by time. A time to be born and a time to die - are the rhythms of our life in-between our doing? Are we the orchestrators of our own fate? Or are we simply the plucked, plonked, banged, crashed instruments of some higher reality?

Strict time, loose time, swing time, tight time…Time! Count me in folks, I’m on a roll - and rolling along with Time. I play drums and have played drums for many years. Time is the same but I have been changed by it. Changed irrevocably. And like The Portrait of Dorian Grey – there is a trade off: my skills as a “time-keeper” get better and better – but youth and beauty have indeed been dropped to the floor – like a nub-end of a cigarette! Okay – I’m stretching (and mixing) the metaphor but you get the drift. Dorian Grey kept his youth and looks but lost his soul. Time can give us skills and experience but robs us of youth and (eventually) energy - though I can’t help thinking of Roy Haynes, drumming away well into his 80s (and beyond)! The gifted amongst us find Time when they ARE young and beautiful and grow old so gracefully they become classical – a classical piece! Or step out of time – from Mozart to Hendrix - much too early.

Time – abstract and yet leaving an absolute trace. Music written down and yet not coming alive – not becoming truly music without time. No movement – no time. Time breathing life into the abstract; making those black dots and tails sing from the horns of saxes or the bodies and strings of violins – escape from snares, or ring out from bells. And time – TIME - the subject of so many songs. Time, time, time - is on my side? Well we shall see. But now folks – it’s time for me to end and time to do some practice - and for that I shall certainly need Time! Are you ready: 1, 2…1,2,3,4…

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