How Pat Metheny helped me

Max in High School playing his first gig, around 1996

As a young guitar student at the age of 15, I got into Pat Metheny`s music through my best friend, who was a piano player. He had enough money to afford to buy the only decent jazz magazine at that time, and he would eventually give it to me, to dive into the music we liked so much. The first guitarist I saw in this magazine was Pat; it must have been around that time when the Pat Metheny group released 'Letter from home', which is an epic album by the way. The only way to check out the music back then was to travel 40 miles north all the way up to Munich, which had a great record store.'Jazz at Beck`s' felt like a candy shop, for music. We spent hours and hours of listening, checked out albums, sometimes without even buying anything, since we were both teenagers with a small budget.

I remember that we once got 'We live here', another of Pat`s great releases for playing a little gig at our school; the principal of the school gave this album to us as a present, and we were so happy to check out the music. It is hard to imagine, but back then, it was almost impossible to read interviews of your idols, without buying jazz magazines; the internet was still years away, at least in Germany. When I heard that Pat Metheny released a book with all his compositions and a section with quotes, I simply had to get my hands on this book. My parents gave it to me on my 18th birthday. I tried to play all the tunes I loved and read through all of these quotes, in one single day. 

Out of all of the brilliant thoughts he presented, one thing stuck with me most: 
'Everybody has a unique voice and a story to tell, that is theirs alone. The challenge is to develop your skills enough so that you are able to tell that story in a compelling way'. I printed this out and put it on my wall, right next to my bed. It became my mantra for every second I played the guitar. It`s still there, after 16 years. And every time I visit my parents, I get this little reminder of what it means to develop your voice. This little quote made me try to learn all that I can, to achieve that goal Pat was talking about.I thought a lot about Pat`s influence on my playing when we recorded the music I had written to the poem "Der Panther" by the famous writer Rainer Maria Rilke. Especially Pat`s album 'One quiet night' had a significant impact, both on my writing and playing for this album we released in 2011. I am so grateful for everything Pat gave us and I am sure that without him, music wouldn`t be the same for a lot of people.