Photo: YJM @ North Fork Theater, Westbury NY taken by Jim Lutz
…His riffs were given him from the heavens…his hooks rip at your soul, seize your heart in one masterfully finessed fistful and they yank hard. It’s so good it hurts. This guy has been on the planet for 45 years, he’s been big-time since the mid-80’s, and I’m just now standing up to look around. He’s gone from gangly, baby-faced cutie to a puffier version of himself, but his fingers are capable of the same fretboard-burning neoclassical shred that they always have. Malmsteen was genetically engineered for it…
Like Vanessa-Mae, Yngwie Malmsteen is yet another glimpse of humans operating on a level that seems inhuman, seems fit only for images in our minds that look like gods, angels and demons. He’s a form that looks like us, talks like us, really quite mundane, maybe not what we expected when he sets down his guitar. Perhaps a bit disappointing, even. Fish out of water…
Like a pilot I once knew. If you were to ride in a car with this pilot, you wouldn’t want to fly with him. But behind the yoke of anything that flies, something comes over him that you can feel not just see in the crisp, disciplined execution of technical skills. The feeling you get is a knowing that rushes through you, fills you completely, and lands in that heart area I wrote about once and you understand that your life is in the best, most intelligent, most knowledgeable, most efficient, proficiently skilled hands. A peace comes over you, and an awe as you watch this fish back in water.
Photo: YJM & wife April @ NAMM taken by Michael J. McGee
And so it is with Yngwie Malmsteen, just another focused human pursuing the clarity of his vision, complete with his incompetencies out of his element. Did I really expect the mesmerizing high of his performance mode to spill off the stage into interviews and into life with his wife and kid? Yet this idea of a perpetual high is the part of the human god scenario that I find myself constantly, eternally seeking. It’s the trap I so far never fail to get tricked by, the trap that I’m susceptible to walking into every single time. If I look around, plus consider all I’ve read, I would logically tell you that no human can sustain anything at all—not pristine health, the high of happiness, the high of a skill or a drug, not even life itself—constantly, permanently. So what is that constant, annoying yearning that will not shut up, will not leave me alone no matter what I feed it?
I suspect it’s the same thing that was behind the yearning I once sought to appease with the introduction of a mate into my life. I finally learned that the addition of another person means the addition of all their seeking, yearnings and baggage, and if that seeking, yearning, and baggage wasn’t compatible with my seeking, yearning, and baggage, it only made things worse. Then neither party had a chance of finding, feeding, tossing out a few bags. I finally understood no one outside myself stood a better chance than I do of knowing exactly what it would take to bring me joy. They’re not me. I am. It’s an inside job.
So this yearning for a perpetual high, this straining our necks looking for something exciting, something to perk us up or mellow us out, something to get a rise out of us, something to make the difference in our lives… What is it? We are not complete as we are so we need something else? Is that it? We are not exciting, or smart, or proficient, or strong, etc. enough so we build shrines to idols or look to someone with a checklist of amenities we don’t have? Witnessing excellence in others and involving ourselves in relationships with people we admire aren’t problem-solvers, they’re icing on the cake. Relationships work best when each person going into them understands who they are and who the other is and has no expectations above that, no unrealistic expectations that more or different or better will be delivered on top of what’s already there.
But the hollow thing, if that’s there for us, we just have to figure it out for ourselves. Maybe it’s a spiritual thing, a seeking of wholeness, of oneness with God, ourselves, and others. Unless we’re particularly insightful, whatever it is for us might just have to be found through process of elimination as we walk the paths we seem to have been set down on and given a whack on the withers to proceed on. And so we bolt, hair flying, we need things, we collect things, maybe this will do it, maybe that, we slow to a walk, ok no we don’t need this anymore, or this either, and we toss the bags overboard to lighten the load, and we keep doing that until we can’t or don’t need to anymore.
This is my pet thing that I keep writing about in one way or another. The theme is always the same underneath any topic. Being awed by greatness, seeking it in myself, not finding, crying, dying, being doused with hope, by what? by who?, and waking, shaking it off, lifting my head and doing it all again. This person that I seem to be is obviously driven to find the answer and some other interior part of me feels like it has been commandeered by a raving, out of control lunatic. That’s my driving life force, what’s yours?
Is there anything that won’t leave you alone?
And does that thing demand an answer?
Are you driven to find it?
Are you patient to wait for it to show up?
Or have you found what you’re looking for and are at peace?