I recently had the opportunity to visit Europe, the country; not the band. Even though I did get to work with those guys also, but that’s another story for another time. You get a lot of time to think of things while you’re on a 10+ hour flight, crammed in like a sardine. Well, maybe worse than a sardine. I think a sardine has a little bit more room to stretch out. The trip as a whole was amazing. Many new experiences, stories, and getting to talk to people about one of the things that I enjoy, the music. Which was also the inspiration behind this post and the demise of my hearing. Being in another country several thousand miles away, without the creature comforts of my FIOS, was one of those defining moments. I never really put much thought into my own dependance on background noise. Usually there would be a fan running, or the TV on in the background as I fell asleep. On this trip, there was none of that to be had. I’m sure being jet-lagged and 30,000 feet above the ground didn’t help, but this was also as much as 20 years of my own destruction. The first night as I laid my head down to sleep, I was able to sleep from pure exhaustion from a day of travel time. But once 3AM came around, and that damn rooster started crowing, it was all downhill from there. I tried my damnedest to fall right back asleep. That’s when it started to become that much more apparent to me. The ringing in my ears are pretty damn extreme. I’ve known for a while that I have High Frequency Hearing Loss. I’ve had the hearing tests done several times, I know what frequencies I have problems with, I know what caused it, I know there’s no cure; but what I didn’t know was to the severity it has become.That dull deafening drone of the Emergency Alert test rolling thru your head constantly. But it’s become much more than that. It’s frequencies higher, and even lower that are effected as well. And that includes much of the frequencies of the human voice. Especially the female voice. It has gotten me in trouble several times when I have to ask people to repeat themselves. It’s not the fact that I’m not listening, it’s just that I can’t hear. See, the female voice contains frequencies higher than a male voice, and especially children. And many times it’s those frequencies that get drowned out. So it’s not the way you talk or how loud or soft, but it’s the tone and afflictions of the speech that gets lost. Much of the same way when there’s a siren, or other loud piercing noise that suddenly appears. That will affect me in a way with an extreme high pitched bell like a 12K hertz ringing for the next several hours. I love loud music. It’s been a part of my life since growing up. Spending time down at Jannus for concerts, rockin’ out to the very first CD’s ever made, to standing up on stage in front of 50,000+ people with an amp cranked up to near max. But, it was also my downfall. I never took the time growing up to respect my ears, and to learn about them. In fact, many people don’t think about it until it’s too late. Had I invested the $300 in custom earplugs 20 years ago, I most likely wouldn’t be in the same situation. Best investment ever. Depending on the show, I will either use my In-Ear Monitors, or my custom Ear Plugs. But either way, now a tool of necessity. As should be for every musician. I used to go home many nights from a show and drive home in complete silence, just because it was needed. Not so much so now-a-days. But also the damage has already been done. It is a simple tool that should be in every musicians gig bag, gear box, and cup holder. Take care of your ears, so you can hear everything that lies ahead of you. I didn’t and I’m paying for it now in my later years. And if by chance I ask you to repeat what you just said, it’s not that I’m not paying attention, but I just really physically can not hear you as good as I should have, had I taken care of myself many many deafening concerts ago.