Isolation Blues

By John Shapter | September 8, 2020

Isolation Blues: keyboard, conch, homemade single-string guitar, Roli Lightpad, rattles.
Performed by Headzic, aka John Shapter

I am a musician and a performer. When the lockdown was announced in March it felt as though the rug had been pulled out from under me. A gig I had the next week was immediately cancelled, and future venues were shutting their doors, not even answering emails

So it was time to take stock. Right from the beginning, there were positive angles for me to consider. My wife had just been diagnosed with a serious illness requiring major surgery and lockdown meant I was released from other commitments and could spend time caring for her. In many ways, it has been a lovely time spent in each other`s company.  We also took stock of our working lives and made decisions that have improved our future prospects, decisions that we might otherwise not have considered. A sort of win-win there.

My regular morning walk with our dog became something to hold onto during this time of uncertainty. The walks got longer and I used the time for introspection. I noticed how the world had changed, with no traffic noise and no low hum of ambient noise from local industries. Even the sounds of people and children seemed to have dimmed. In fact, sometime around mid-May the very earth felt still, a sort of beautiful calmness.

I had been struggling with developing my music for some time too, to the point of being in complete denial about the lack of income from this side of my life. I think it was Robert Fripp who said in an interview that “a musician needs to have a relationship with his music. A good musician needs a relationship with his fans. However, a successful musician needs to have a relationship with the music industry as well.”

So, I took this opportunity to enroll in a course covering the business of music. If I wasn`t able to perform, then what better use could I make of my time? I am on a steep learning curve that has opened my eyes to a lot of opportunities I have been missing. Another win-win.

Nonetheless, I am still compelled to perform. so I have joined the band wagon of online streaming from home. One manifestation of this was a few weeks of “Radio Headzic,” in which I streamed a weekly live audio program of my own music and that of friends. I was still feeling the frustration of isolation during lockdown and during one of those programs I performed a live improvisation on the theme of isolation.

The inspiration was the quiet rhythms of isolation, the background to the emotions of those affected by COVID-19–the confusion, the loss, the fears that all coalesce into the background track of our minds. Not bad, not frightening, just the background to everything we`ve done over the last few months.

Art by June Shapter

Copyright © 2020 John Shapter
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  1. Trayci on September 9, 2020 at 1:19 am

    So eloquently Scribed John. The world entered into a time we were so ill prepared for.. emotionally and spiritually.. your music sums up for me the surrender to it all. Really beautiful xx Trayci Tompkins.

    • John on September 10, 2020 at 5:14 am

      Thank you Trayci,
      I feel it is really important to document and mark the last few months. Subtle changes are ongoing, which we will need to remember in time. Music and art are a profound way of doing this.

  2. Des Maguire on September 9, 2020 at 2:53 am

    Thanks John for sharing your thoughts and sounds .
    Much love

    • John on September 10, 2020 at 5:15 am

      Hi Des,
      Thanks for listening. You know the power of sound in all forms

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