good morning -
I dreamed last night that I was playing guitar in a dark, cabaret-type bar. There were two women singing, beautiful harmonies, and I was backing them up. Unexpectedly, they launched into a cover of a song I knew how to play but didn’t quite recognize at first. I strummed the chords, straining to remember. But when the big chorus came, I knew it was “Here Comes a Regular” by the Replacements. And I started crying, crying and strumming, crying harder than I can ever recall crying. At the end of the song the two women I was backing up turned around to ask me if I was okay and they were crying, too. Then I woke up.
The track this week started off as this really hyperactive two electric guitar improv, the two takes of me playing twisting and roiling around. I listened back to it when I was getting ready to put this together for you and it was kind of unlistenable - the playing was good, but it felt completely full up, like the track was completely saturated with sound. There was no way in, and nowhere to put myself within it. In other words there was no space for me or for anyone else! So I deleted the two guitars entirely, leaving only the big synth drone and the twinkly Rhodes that I had added to soften the guitars. You have to leave space for the listener, you have to leave space for the reader - it’s like having a conversation, you have to stop talking at some point, you have to let it all hang in the air.
I've got a show tonight ~ this very night! ~ at a venue called Rubulad in Brooklyn. You should come, but I can't tell you the address here - you'll have to ask me for it. But it's gonna be cool. Shea Stadium is presenting the show and I hope to bring back the sweaty DIY energy of their old space. I'll be playing with a full band and this'll be my last gig until the record comes out at the end of the month (by the way, I have a record coming out at the end of the month).
Actually, I'll have the next single from it out next week - - keep an eye out for that ~ ~ ~
Also - - there’s a good show in Tortoise Town coming up on the 16th. More details on that next week.
Struggling deeply with the emerging thought that I want to take a week off from this. I'm freakin as I write this, not prepared, the world is very hard to swallow right now. This writing is worrying me - so, just...do it. Take the week off! Chill! I know that the reasonable thing to do would be to just take the time, to just relax. I could even send a note that said hey, sorry, needed the week off for reasons of stress or whatever, no one would mind, even if they look forward to reading or listening. Many of you would probably even say to yourselves hey, check it out, he took a week off, maybe I should be kinder to myself, as well. In the process of helping myself I might even help you out by reminding you of your limits, this seems very feasible, this is a great argument for taking the week off. But at a time in my life when I demand a lot more attention paid to me directly than usual (I mean, I have this record coming out, I have copies and release show tickets to sell, I even hired a PR person) I feel that it is of utmost important that I prove my worth. And one way in which we prove our worth to each other, at least in my former christian puritan addled worldview, is that we work hard. You don't want to give your attention to someone who hasn't "earned" it, and in my good boy world that means that you've put in an effort, of sweat, of labor, or of consideration. And here is a way in which I can conveniently demonstrate to the world that I am working. I do this every week. I make the music and I write the thing and I send it out to you, and if you respond to me I try my best to respond back (often failing). It is a regular and expected demonstration of, if not my essential genius as a writer and a maker of tracks (which very few people listen to, despite the opening of the emails), then at least it is a demonstration of my dedication, my workingness, my good.
I feel that I have come so very far. I don't think I could have held myself in lower regard than I did not so many years ago. The change is absolutely astounding to me. I felt that I deserved nothing. In fact I felt I deserved worse than nothing and neglect, I truly felt - really deep in my bones - that I deserved scorn and derision, in a way I kinda liked it, and asked for the series of embarrassing trials I was put through. Running and changes to my immediate social circle and going out dancing and a better if still sometimes crushing job and a new house and new and old friends and especially therapy and going to support groups were all very helpful in bringing about this change. I don't feel particularly responsible, I feel very aided. There are freely available easy resources out there that might work for those who wish to claw themselves out of the dark, I simply took hold of a few. But I hold myself with some esteem now. I like the way I look, and the things I make. Sometimes I think my esteem is too great (do you ever get the feeling of being an under recognized genius? oh, just me?). But there's one thing I've failed to embrace fully. Can't quite swallow the pill. And that is this.
No matter what you do - no matter how diligently you write your Thursday emails, no matter how wonderful the music you make is, no matter how much weight you've lost or gained, no matter how kind you are to those around you, none of it - will change the fact that you are already worthy of love, health, security, and happiness. You are no less worthy than anyone else and, inversely, you will never prove yourself more worthy than anyone else. Everyone deserves a measure of health and happiness, a measure of dignity, a measure of consideration by peers and loved ones. Everyone deserves the ability to express their feelings or be heard and held by a community. This has always been true! From the moment you took your first breath you and everyone you will ever speak to has been worthy. That running list of transgressions that you keep buried deep in an invisible spreadsheet will never free you from the burden of this simple truth: you are worthy, nothing you can do about it.
How do we allow ourselves to feel this? How do we throw open the doors, punch out all the windows, let the cool air in? What feat of strength must we accomplish, what acropolis must we topple, what mountain must we stand atop, in order to believe this simple and obvious truth? From how many trusted mouths must the words fall, from how many neon stars must it be beamed? How many times must we run the numbers, how far must we run?
And I realize now writing this that even in the artful language I’m dreaming up here I’m positioning worthiness as the result of a great and dramatic act - standing atop a mountain. This is where I struggle! Because there is nothing to do. You are worthy, you know this, let the cool air in.
Thanks for being here ~ ~