Graphic: The Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement

Joel Bryan

Audio transcript: On the significance of playing music
Date: August 19, 1997
Interviewer: Susan O'Hara

Note: Transcripts have been lightly edited; therefore there may be slight discrepancies with audio clips.

But music was an extremely important part of me. You know how they say that music comes out of the other side of the brain? It just gave me a wholly different avenue for my feelings and my feelings of pain and loneliness. I could harness those and blow them through that instrument. I could play well enough so that I could play anything I thought, instantly. So depending on the moment, the solos—people responded to the solos. People understand pain. We all have it. But when the pain in my life was solved through marriage and some other happy events, I couldn't play the same way. I didn't have the need to play that way. Basically that changed it.

What other instruments besides the harmonica?

I got a half-size guitar when I was in Pakistan, and I learned to play that upside down and backwards. I adapted it. Again, we're talking about—if you approach it the standard way, I couldn't do it. But I found a way to turn it over, play the frets with my right hand and strum with my left, put my hand over the top of the frets and play those. It wasn't great, but I could—my brother and I used to go to parties, and I would play guitar and we would sing. We would harmonize and sing Chuck Berry tunes and stuff like that. It was another avenue and it was another way of adapting to have more of a voice, more of an influence over life, and to be approved of.

End of transcript

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