“That’ll be $8 for cover,” the guy at the door says to me. I’m in a seedy part of the downtown core and the streetlight is burnt out. I’m not sure what I’m walking into, but I’m curious.
I pay my entrance fee and snake my way through the crowd. The room is smaller than my first apartment when I was at university, and is holding about 60 people. It’s a Bohemian-looking group of people who are here to see a band. So am I.
I am wearing a business suit, having just finished my workday, and I am totally out of my element. I nervously look around the room to get my bearings.
There’s a makeshift wooden stand in the corner that looks like the bar. Two-litre bottles of Coke and ginger ale with mickeys of rye, vodka and gin. That’s it. I walk over and ask the barkeep for a drink. He looks at me from head to toe and then pours me a double into a red plastic party cup.
Lost in his own world
Massive speakers are stacked, one upon the other, in the other corner with the drummer in front of them. There appear to be four guys in the band: the drummer, one guy with a slide guitar, one with a regular acoustic guitar who seems to be the lead singer, and another dude with black horn-rimmed glasses.
They are adjusting the sound system and getting ready to play. I notice that I’ve been transformed from feeling awkward into being excited to hear this band play.
The lead singer starts to speak into the mic, saying that they have not played together for three years, and proceeds to explain that two of the guys lived overseas and have only recently returned to Canada—as of yesterday.
The guys he’s referring to are blushing and looking at the floor. They kick off their first song, and the Bohemian girls in the front begin to dance while the song is being sung. I notice something cool.
As he begins to get into the song, the lead singer closes his eyes. Both singing and feeling the vibe, he is lost in his own world. He is connected to the energy of the moment. The Bohemian girls also have their eyes closed as they swing their heads and bodies to the music. They, too, are lost.
I think to myself, among other things, that this is a spiritual moment I am witnessing!
There are several articles, written by experts, about the connection between music and spirit. Often, the rattle and hum of music creates the vibrational frequency required for a spiritual connection. There is something about music that evokes emotion, images and a feeling that no other medium can.
In a book called Power vs. Force by David R. Hawkins, the author speaks at length about the energetic impact music can have on the body and mind. By conducting experiments, Hawkins shows how some music invigorates you, while other music can extract energy from you.
A moment of Zen
Years ago, I witnessed a Sufi singer named Abida Parveen perform live at an intimate gathering, at a close family friend’s place. A Sufi, by the way, is an enlightened person who pursues the Truth not through intellectual searching, but through abandoning the Ego. The most well-known Sufi of our time is the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
At this gathering, Parveen began singing with her eyes closed. There was no C note in E minor that she was trying to hit, nor was there any following of a beat or timing in keeping with the musical instruments that accompanied her singing.
She sang from her heart, from her soul. She sang from a deep inner place, and moved people who simply witnessed her ability to express herself and her love through music. There was not a dry eye in the place when she finished performing. A truly spiritual experience!
Standing in the small room watching this band, I got the sense that this was a similar spiritual experience, both for the band and for the fans in the room.
Allowing myself to be moved by the moment, I found myself in a moment of Zen—pure peace and love—just by witnessing the lead singer’s expression of himself through his music.
He then opened his eyes, stopped singing and tuned his guitar…