Today, I went somewhere that I haven't gone in nearly a decade.
It began as a sort of glass framed hole in a wall that opens up into a cavern of musicality turned corporate sales initiative, usually filled with the strands of "Smoke On The Water" or horrible blue riffs.
To put it another way:
There's a hole in the world
That's a deep dark pit
Where the banshees scream
And the cobra's spit
And the room that you find
At the ends of it
Is called the 'Guitar Center'.
But all in all, today it wasn't that bad.
Looking through the vast case of guitar pedals, I found myself smiling about the level of 13 year old humor that is employed by musicians in every day life. For those not in the world of music, it's a juvenile world, filled with crass jokes and ego. But, then ultimately, we all work directly from our hearts.
It made me think of gallows humor; the humor exhibited by those in dire life or death situations...sometimes just death situations. It happened in the cancer ward in which I spent time. Suddenly, jokes become hilarious..so much more funny than you would imagine. It's easy to just laugh, and lose yourself in the laughter. It's catharsis in it's purest form.
Anyway, looking at the titles of some of these pedals, many of which employ innuendo laden names, it occurred that the joke was to cover the reality. Using these pedals, a play can call down an atmosphere from the heavens or send a shock wave of electricity through the most dense crowd. It would be easy to engage in poetic names, in hyperbole. But it would feel to vulnerable, to honest. The joke makes it ok to talk about. It makes the conversation bearable.
As musicians, we make our living with our hearts. We need access to it. But for many of us, sustained contact with our hearts is too much. Thus the humor. The brashness. The silliness.
It goes hand in hand. The humor is the clothing, but the music is the beating heart, the blood, the bones beneath. And that's what resonates with people.