Well this has been the first month I’ve genuinely struggled with the example piece and getting this out on time! Maybe it’s time we took Steve out to pasture? Look at the rabbits? If you’d be so kind…
The twists are over and the the shouting has quieted. You’ll be able to go vote for your favourite pieces at the Voting Page shortly.
Until then, it’s May’s Writing Challenge time. The theme for this month is Hitting a Wall. I’ve had writer’s block all weekend, and this is the best I could do to write something! So bring it writers, what happens when you can’t think of anything till sunday evening of the hand in weekend? Not that any of you lot do that 😉
Panting with exhaustion, his throat hoarse, knowing full well he’ll be paying for this in an hour if he doesn’t change his game, he stands drenched in sweat. His head lightly pounding as his heart kept tempo with his nerves. He could hear several voices in his mind, a cacophony of support and abuse that drowned out the crowd before him now the guitar hung quiet.
Come on, big guy, the familiar paternal voice called.
We’re just getting started, the gruff, slightly Cornish voice chuckled.
You’re failing, moron, his own voice seemed to cut through.
He shakes his head and snatches a glance at the band. All seem to be slightly battered by the ferocity of the show so far; he’s been pulling out the stops tonight, as if trying to prove something.
He rakes the plectrum over the strings and lets out a resilient D chord which rings out beautifully across the room and the dropped D sixth string calms his very soul. The audience seems to take note of the new sound, their incessant chatter over the music all night was expected but he knew that majority of them were just waiting for the next number. He strikes the chord again and the ladies rise in a two-part harmony.
Are you gonna take me home tonight?
Oh, down beside that red firelight.
Are you gonna let it all hang out?
Fat bottom girls, you make the rocking world go round.
Punctuating the vocals with the relevant chords, a calm starts to wash over him. That calm is quickly invaded by the rising sense of anticipation as the last line echoes across the room, the audience now held in the band’s grasp. Slamming his finger onto the fifth fret and running down to the open before swinging the D chord, the thick thwack of the bass drum accenting the beat, he lets the bars go on and winks at the crowd as a filthy grin spreads across his face. Finally, he belts out the first line. His voice is aged beyond its years, it sounds like it’s smoked forty a day for centuries though he’s never taken the drag. An excited whoop punctures the silence of the crowd and his grin gets wider. He closes his eyes as he does whenever singing and feels the confidence welling up to continue now he can’t see.
Imperceptible to the audience, he is shaking. Every line starts with the slightest shudder of fear but is immediately overpowered by the raunchy bravado that growls like a V8 muscle car. He knows that people love this. He knows that people envy him. He gives off the air that this band is the best fucking band you’ve never heard of and I am the compere that will keep you wanting more all damn night. He is aware of the skills that he has, and he is aware that others in his field are a lot more chauvinistic with that level of skill. Yet he will actively wingman his fellow band members before ever pointing the spot light on himself.
The final chorus has the entire band hollering and getting into it. The audience are just as loud without the need of amplification. It’s a moment of sheer extasy. He cannot see them, but he can definitely hear them, and he can feel the overwhelming energies following through the room as people enjoy themselves and enjoy the band.
A few songs later and his voice is raspy and low whilst talking. His fingers ache from the work. He would like nothing more than to stick the coke dispenser in his mouth, press feed, and guzzle for a solid few minutes. But the crowd has requests and a yearning for more, and he’d be lying if he said he didn’t want to keep playing as well. Looking to his number two, she grins back at him and gives the cocked eyebrow that challenges him; “tired already?”. Those voices are back in his head once again.
Springsteen next, everyone loves a Springsteen track, the paternal voice offers.
Stop showing off and play that bloody guitar, boy! The Cornish voice laughs.
You’re getting too old for this, his own voice snaps.
And suddenly it shatters.
That wall he has been pushing against all evening.
That panic and worry.
That need to make sure people are seeing the others and not him.
That curiosity about how his friend did it so well.
It’s all right there. Easy to see.
“Right you lot,” he growls menacingly as he turns on the band grinning. “Simple chord progression; G, E minor, A minor, D. Follow me in the bridge but you’re looking B flat, G minor, C minor, F. D on the second.”
The G chord rings out, strong and true.
The drop to the E minor feels so natural. A trill on the F# to lead you.
The A minor jumping up a little bit not too far to leave you guessing. And then he shouts in his hero’s way…
“1. 2. 3. 4.”
And he leads the band through a number they’ve never practised, the audience through a performance that would suggest otherwise, the performance into second gear. This isn’t about playing the songs they’ve prepared to a regiment anymore. Now they’re looking to have fun and challenge one another, not just pushing against the challenges they feel within themselves.
“I wanna hear you on this one!” He shouts before the chorus. The audience responds in kind.
And the night roars on.
And he roars with delight.
And he isn’t self deprecating, or shy, or under-confident, or any of those pigeon holes people would place him.
And for a split second, he is at peace.