up & up

It’s a beautiful October day in Nashville. The sun is out, the temperature is perfect (currently 73 degrees) and the smell of fall is in the air. In this moment the world feels at peace. Turn on the news any time in the last 2 weeks and you know that isn’t true. Natural disaster after natural disaster, the country seeming to grow evermore divided, the Vegas shooting, Tom Petty leaving us much too soon…the list goes on. This doesn’t even include the personal struggles of many around me and myself. I want to touch on all of it because I’m feeling so many emotions about it all.  To quote Ron Burgundy, “I’m in a glass case of emotion". However, I don’t feel I should for some reason. Truth be told, this is my second blog attempt at writing about Vegas and I just can’t quite find the right words. I wrote something on Facebook the morning after that awful night, and I think that’s all I need to say publicly right now. I realize my opinions may not be best represented on this blog at this current moment – they would only be adding to the noise. Maybe some day I will come back to it, but for right now I just want to spread a message of support, peace and love in this world. Speaking of that, let’s talk about Tom Petty and Coldplay.

”Music is probably the only real magic I have encountered in my life. There’s not some trick involved with it. It’s pure and it’s real. It moves, it heals, it communicates and does all these incredible things.”- Tom Petty

There have been a lot of deaths that have shaken the music world, but I think Tom Petty might be the biggest one yet. Which is quite amazing considering that, from my research, he never once had a single go #1 on the Billboard Top 100 chart. The closest he got was “Free Fallin” at #7. Think about that. Tom f**king Petty never got to #1 on Billboard, only at rock radio (he had 10 #1’s there). Yet I believe he is probably one of the most influental artists in the history of music. His death hits me harder than any other so far. With the Vegas shootings and Petty’s death being less than 24 hours apart, I wanted to bawl my eyes out. His music seems to attach itself to certain moments in people’s lives. His song “Learning To Fly” is a song that will always be deeply personal to me -I’ve even got a sparrow tattoo because of it. Quick story - the night before I had open-heart surgery in 2005, I listened to 2 songs before I went to bed. I was scared to death and needed some sort of distraction. “Learning To Fly” was one of those songs. It gave me this weird sense of peace. I was 16 and really thought I may die from issues with my heart, and this song eased my fears. I got to see him play it live in 2014 and the amount of emotions it filled me with is indescribable. It sent chills down my spine as I remembered the night before surgery and recovery following from 9 years earlier. Which leads me to Tom’s quote above. Music has this power over people. It communicates more than any words truly can. It brings people together and heals. It can and will attach itself to any moment in your life. And, that is far bigger than any #1 will ever be.

Once Petty died, I decided I would never miss an artist I wanted to see if it was possible. Enter Coldplay. I was on vacation on the west coast after Vegas where I spent some time hiking and clearing my head in Mt Shasta (Northan Cal) with old friends and then had a few days planned in LA. Randomly, I found out Coldplay was going to be at the Rose Bowl the last night I was going to be in town. Coldplay is one of those bands I’ve always wanted to see, but always had an excuse for why I shouldn’t. So, I really pushed myself to spend the money and buy seats in the back. I was even regretting it after the expensive Uber and dinner beforehand. Not to mention, getting into the Rose Bowl is a nightmare traffic-wise. But, once the show started…unbelievable. That’s where I saw music unify people, if only for 2 hours. It wasn’t just a show; it was an experience. Another show where I had chills – constantly. To say I teared up a few times is an understatement. There was just something special about it that I can’t fully describe. It’s just a feeling. Coldplay finished their set with a song called “Up & Up”. I think it was the song that needed to be played after all the terrible things that week. The chorus lyrics go like this:

“We’re gonna get it, get it together right now

we’re gonna get it, get it together somehow

we’re gonna get it, get it together and flower

we’re gonna get it, get it together I know

we’re gonna get it, get it together and flow

we’re gonna get it, get it together and go

up and up and up”

I believe those lyrics are made for right now. For this specific moment. And they, once again, show the power of music when all hope seems lost. I hadn’t heard it until that night and I can’t turn it off now. Maybe it’s just me, but I think a lot of people need that song now as a reminder for themselves and this world.

Part of me feels that this blog is pointless. That no one really wants to read it. That my voice isn’t much of one at all.  I’m also sure there are a few people who don’t like the honesty in it. Let me tell you…I’ve tried to be a person who is just sunshine and rainbows all day everyday. But that’s not me. That’s not my authentic self. And life is not all sunshine and rainbows. There are some damn good days, months, seasons and years in this life. There are some damn bad ones, too. But I believe the bad ones are necessary to truly enjoy and appreciate the good ones. I like to call these “up” times and “down” times. My last blog post makes it fairly obvious that right now is one of those “down” times for myself. I’m still completely lost on what’s going to happen for me. As I’ve said before, that’s ok. Hell, after this weekend, I have virtually no work for the remainder of the year and on. AND THAT IS OK. I’ve had the chance to do so many awesome things in my short career thus far. And I’m quite sure I’ll have many more. But right now is one big question mark on what’s next. Moments such as these even make me doubt if I belong in Nashville anymore, if I’m really any good, and if I’m alone in this. These all are difficult things to think about, but I think embracing it is what I should do. And I think writing or speaking out about it is the only thing that takes the power away from it.

Really, at the end of the day and even with all the doubts, I am certain of a few things with music. I am certain music has the ability to bring people together and heal like nothing and no one else. I am certain it can make you feel things that are indescribable, but more powerful than ever imagined. I am certain one song can have a lasting impact on any moment in your life. And, lastly, I am certain this is why this is my love and passion.

I leave you with one last quote:

"Life is beautiful in all its colors, even the darker ones, they're here for a reason" - Chris Martin (Coldplay)


Coldplay at the Rose Bowl 10/6/17

Nigel Knop