Sometimes people ask me why I so routinely include music in the fiction I write. Burritos and Gasoline, is thick with musical references. So much so that a fan in England wrote to ask if I would consider compiling a soundtrack package to accompany the book.

I liked that idea.

To be completely honest, I include music in my writing because music has always been a major influence to my life. It’s a key to the American experience as I see it. From my earliest memories of my mother singing show tunes around the house, to my first glimpse of the Beatles, the Stones, the Byrds, and the Lovin’ Spoonful on Ed Sullivan’s variety show, to the band my friends Mark and Bob and I formed in the seventh grade – music has been one of the great joys of my life.

I recently wrote a piece for an aviation publication that tied the Jimi Hendrix sound to the general aviation industry. Now that’s not the kind of connection that just falls off a truck and finds its way to a nationally distributed aerospace publication. You have to have a real affinity for both fields of endeavor, and I do. Call me weird. You won’t be the first to level the charge in my direction. But I love to fly, and I continue to include music in my life every single damn day. I have a real appreciation for aviation in all its various forms, and I have ten guitars hanging on the wall in my office and I play almost every day.

That’s not normal, I know.

In the old days I was in a band, professionally. Those years were some of the most satisfying of my life. But then music can do amazing things for us if we let it. Music breaks down barriers, allows total strangers to interact comfortably, and makes the sick, the worried, and the dying feel better in a way mere words simply can’t.

Lately I’ve been leaving the office to play in my local park. Not every day, but often. A couple times a week, at least. Much like my younger days in Greenwich Village, I grab a guitar, settle down on a bench, and stand picking out a tune or two. Often, people gather around to listen. I like that. In fact I encourage it. But not as much as I encourage others to grab an instrument, come on down, and play along. Or they can do their own thing, independently. That’s cool, too.

Music isn’t life, but it sure makes life a whole lot better. From your best days to your worst, music is right there with you. Enjoy every bit of it you can. Don’t be shy. You can listen to folk, rap, and metal all in one sitting if that appeals to you. The only boundaries are the ones you set for yourself.

As for me, I’ll keep inserting music and musicians into my stories, and I’ll keep playing in the park, too. Maybe one day we’ll meet there, you and me. I think I’d like that.

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