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John McLaughlin on the Mystery of Creativity, Inspiration, & Music

Alan Bryson By

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AAJ: Thank you, that's important information for me. It's so incredible to me that you've been in the music business for 50 years, and you play with such intensity, such energy, and such speed and you maintain this youthful vitality, but I know how difficult and demanding your tour schedule is. How do you do it, what keeps you so youthful and fit?

JM I stay connected Alan, I stay connected. I stay aware of my connection as much as possible, to the great Earth and to every being—I know that sounds kind of hippie and far-fetched, but this is an actual practice that I do daily. (Laughs) I'm still 29 inside, but my body doesn't agree with me sometimes.

AAJ: But when people see you sitting in a lotus position during an entire concert with Remember Shakti! I remember meeting you after a concert and you were just so full of energy, and you had been riding all night the night before, and you would be riding all night again that night—and I was just amazed how you maintained that level of energy.

JM You know, if you love what you do, I mean yes, you spend a lot of energy playing, but I can tell you quite categorically that I get much more energy from music that I give to music. It might sound strange, but I get so much sustenance from music, and even physical energy. It's quite miraculous really, that is another mystery to me. Yes there's some nights when you haven't slept, and finally you get to the end of the concert and you're dead, that happens too. But frequently I've gone on stage tired and I've come off the stage much more energetic and than I was going on stage. Who can explain this to me? It defies explanation doesn't it.

AAJ: A couple of days ago Jimmy Herring posted a photo of the two of you together when you joined the Aquarium Rescue Unit on stage, and you both looked so joyous in that photo. So I was just curious if you could share some impressions of Jimmy as a musician and as a person.

JM Do you know Jimmy's playing?

AAJ: Oh yes, I've interviewed Jimmy a couple of times, he's a great guy and a fantastic player.

JM Wow, not just a great player, but he recorded one of my tunes and he played a solo, and when I heard it I said, "Holy Moly!" (Laughs) I wish I could have played that. He's wonderful, and what a lovely human being, I mean just delightful, delightful. Joyful and I think a completely dedicated musician. His life is completely dedicated to music, and like me, he gets so much back from music.

But you see, musicians can go pretty long, they're not like athletes. Although at some point it gets physical, and that will be it. I don't know how much longer I will be able to continue, this is the unknown. I'll know it when I'm not able to play anymore, I'll know it and that will be it. Then it will be goodbye, and all I can say is thank you, I've gotten so much from music. I'll never be able to pay that debt.

AAJ: Well thank you so much for taking the time John to speak with us today.

JM Oh what a pleasure.

AAJ: Be care when you're out there paragliding, I saw the photo of you paragliding at 73, that's pretty amazing! What was that experience like, was it as good as being on stage?

JM (Laughs) I had to do it once in my life! It was unbelievable, it was such a thrill Alan. Such a thrill. I was in a position where my son was saying, "Come on Dad, you gotta do it! Come on, come on!" So I said okay, if you're gonna do it, I'm gonna do it. And then my son's girlfriend said to my wife, "Come on you gotta do it, you gotta do it!" And in the end all four of us were up there, and it was just out of this world. It was fantastic. You really know what's going on, I'm really impressed.

In any event, next year we'll be in Europe and I do hope I run into you, and if you're anywhere near, please come and say hello will you?

AAJ: I will John, and it's been great talking to you, and I wish you a super tour and good luck with the album, I'm so glad it started off so great.

JM Thanks so much for the opportunity to speak about it, I do so appreciate it.

Photo credit: johnmclaughlin.com

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