Have you ever listened to that Belle & Sebastian song, The Gate? If you haven’t, here’s a chance…
There’s something so sad, and yet also so hopeful about this song. I don’t mean just the lyrics, I mean there is something about the music. As I walked around downtown tonight, lost in my thoughts, reflecting on how amazing it is that I should be walking on this street, here, in a place I never imagined even existed only a few years ago, as I thought of that I listened to this song and you know what I heard? I heard a little banjo line, off in the background, the simplest and prettiest lines in the song besides the melody.
That banjo. How many times have I listened to the song, and heard the sound of the banjo, but not actually heard it? I remember now once hearing it, a long time ago, and smiling to myself. But I forgot about it. There’s so much other beauty in the song, the hopeful piano lines, the stoic guitar arpeggios, the plain and clear lines of the trumpet… but that banjo. The banjo captured my silly heart, and I’ve been listening to the song again every few songs, just to hear it.
Sometimes you’re playing the trumpet, and everyone hears you. Sometimes you’re playing the drums and you never need take a solo, because you’re always busy keeping time, but everyone follows you. Sometimes you’re singing, and beautiful and everyone sees it. And sometimes, in life, you’re playing the banjo, and you just have to keep playing it, because you know what you’re doing is right, it’s exactly right. Not everyone will hear you, not everyone will smile, but someone will, someday.
It’s worth it, my dear fellow banjo-players, we must tell ourselves this even when we’re tired of waiting for our turn to start playing, even when we play our best and nobody seems to notice… because that banjo line is so beautiful, and in fact it is—just sometimes—the most beautiful part of the whole song.