The Power List- August 31, 2015

There are some weeks that are ran on “auto-pilot” so to speak. You don’t feel the day pass. It’s more of a blurry fog for one reason or another. This past week had an ethereal quality to it for several reasons: Forest fire haze from some nearby U.S. states, my own mental struggles when my health is affected (by said haze) and just my overall questioning of myself and lets face it, every person who struggles with their own mental health at one time or another questions the validity of their life overall.

Would I kill myself? No. But those kind of fatalistic thoughts permeate at times. I try to ride those feelings through the other side because I know they’re temporary. I look for inspiration around me. In a world of remakes and increased artifice, it becomes difficult and somewhat defeating at times, but I find small areas in music that constantly inspire me whether they’re new or from my teenage years.

A band like Testament has inspired me not only with the cathartic anger, but their lyrics that cover everything from environmental issues, native peoples struggles or political strife. Then an artist like Greg Puciato who’s most known for his vocals in Dillinger Escape Plan is an integral part of the project Killer Be Killed (who are permanently a part of my workout playlist) and upon a recent discovery, has an almost old school R & B project coming out called The Black Queen.

Along with those and the always inspired work ethic and positive messages of anything to do with Devin Townsend and Sevendust, they’re pretty much always in any rotation to my musical listening. Like a security blanket, they make my darker days better. They give reason to opening my eyes in the morning.

The one inspiration that I go to again and again is Jason Becker. In 1989, he was diagnosed with ALS. Normally a death sentence, his family and friends have supported his health and with his own personal strength and attitude continues to live today and compose using a communication system that his dad developed that uses his eyes. He communicates musical ideas to his uncle or to other musician friends and feeding them into a computer, he has the meters adjusted accordingly and orchestrations layered to create new music. He’s only released two full length albums since his diagnosis and is working on another, but he has smaller projects appear on other people’s albums like Steve Hunter and Marty Friedman most recently.

I included his song “Blue,” a bluesy tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughn, because it was amongst the last songs that Jason played himself before ALS robbed him of his ability to play. Jason shows me every day that no matter how low the day may seem, there’s always something, no matter how small it is, that I can do. I may not make 10 course meals every day, but if I can make my family happy, then that’s important.