When the music's over, turn out the lights - Michael Davis

Yes, that's from a Doors song.

I'm presumably a bit young to listen to the music of the first rock band without a bass player, but, heck, a lot people didn't like them when they were at the height of their popularity. Their words , however, will forever ring true.

There is a sort of restlessness that's beginning to overtake part of my life.

For several years, I have been an avid music fan and have taken up several instruments (primarily drums and guitar).

But for those of us in the non-homeowner category, that is, urban apartment dwellers, musical prowess comes at a price – generally born by those in neighboring apartments.

So with that firmly in mind, and with the knowledge that the city of Atlanta has rules against it, I have generally fallen short of any sort of percussive activity in the past several years. What is a guy to do?

Sure there are practice pad kits available that can be played in relative quiet. There are electronic sets that can be heard through headphones. But it's not the same.

And there are other problems.

Being an apartment-dweller has the consequence of, at times, leading to a shortage of space. In my tiny hovel, a one-bedroom, I'm not sure where I would put such a contraption.

I've had this problem now for several years. When I moved out of my father's house in college, it was into an apartment. Not very long thereafter, I moved into a rental house with several roommates. This afforded a minimal practice area.

But it was never the same as being able to bang away in peace and quiet in the basement of my father's house, where, over the course of several years, I'm sure I contributed somewhat to his hearing loss and some of my own.

During the course of my youth, I wore out and broke up countless drumsticks (not the chicken kind) and a handful of extremely loud and expensive cymbals. At times, I would patch drum heads with duct tape until I could get to the neighborhood music shop and buy some more.

It was exercise as well. And while not the best thing for my posture (stools have no back rests) the repetitive motion kept me lithe and relatively stout. It also used to be that playing with a rock and roll band afforded regular practice, a few chances to show off in front of perfect strangers at seedy rock clubs, and more than a few good times.

But those days are over. No more can I spend the evening pounding at the snare drum, stomping on the bass and making a general nuisance of myself. I've learned to get my "Ya Yas out" on a relatively tame acoustic guitar while trying to keep down any sort of civil disturbance that may result from a late evening jam.

And I've come to terms with it in a way knowing it was fun while it lasted. I can always listen to and enjoy good music. And who knows, maybe one day I can get back into it. But, for now, turn out the lights, it looks like the music's over.

Michael Davis covers government for the Daily Herald. His column appears on Fridays. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at mdavis@henryherald.com .