This is a weekly newsletter where I send out a new “nice sounding” track, some writing, and a picture of something I saw. It’s also one way I let people know what I’m up to otherwise. Thank you for reading. You can hear every single My Big Break track in one playlist right here.
Good … afternoon??
Had an issue with the mailing service spam filter, but should be working now…haven’t missed an 8:30am mailing in almost a year of Thursdays….moving on…
Among the embarrassment of joys I am permitted to experience while social distancing on this remote, prestigious college campus is nighttime access to a grand piano and an empty recital hall. It has great acoustics, and the sun comes streaming in from the high up windows above the empty seats. The music this week is just that grand piano, twisted into shape a bit. And I turned it into a radio piece once again, think I’m getting the hang of it.
The big news in my world is that an album I love very much and loved working on is coming out tomorrow. That’s Friday, May 8th. Solid Love by Adeline Hotel is absolutely a record about friendship, about gathering, about the bigger, more wonderful thing that can bubble up in a community of folks and collaborators. I can’t think of a record I’ve ever played on that would be better served by a big, blowout, all-our-friends-are-there release show, and I can’t remember craving a hang at a bar after a gig this bad in my life. We couldn’t have possibly predicted these circumstances, even a month ago, but I am glad to be finally able to offer you and the wider world a chance to hear these lovely, patient, weirdly jammy songs. You can hear a few songs from it and pre-order it now on Bandcamp, Friday it goes live there and everywhere. We’ll also be doing a live stream hang on the Adeline Hotel Instagram page, I think it’ll actually be really nice and - as I seem to say a lot these days - I look forward to seeing you in the chat.
At some point in the future, however long and far away, some gauzy blob on the horizon, there will be a moment that feels normal. It will come. And you will not be totally preoccupied with the many-branching possible outcomes of every moment as you are right now, you will not be anxiously tapping your foot, you will not be holding your breath, waiting to pop. You will do something familiar - you will walk to the corner store on your block or drive to a family member’ s house - and that blink of ease you begrudgingly allow yourself will settle down upon you, a light dusting of snow. It won’t flutter away, it won’t shatter off of you like those easy moments do now - like when you find yourself, in spite of everything, actually disappearing into three paragraphs of whatever paperback happens to be around in whatever living room you’re living in now. Or when you get baked and watch an old sitcom, letting the easy laughter of the live studio audience fog out the other anxious impulses. There are moments of escape and they are delicious but they suddenly snap back in to place - a stray thought or an accidental headline bungees you headlong back into the present, back into the news and the newsfeeds. But at some point - I’m not saying soon, but at some point - your day will feel more normal than it does strange. The scales will tip, and 51% of your waking experience will be things that you can actually rationalize, that you can actually swallow, and though you may never casually shake hands with a stranger again in time even this will be familiar to you. Even if you are sick now, even if you have lost a loved one, in time there will be a small campfire of joy for you to warm your hands by. At some point in the near future we will stop collectively clapping at 7pm. It won’t happen all at once, but rather it will taper off gradually, until one day somebody who has been sticking their head out their window with a copper pot and a wooden spoon will realize that they are the last ones left keeping the tradition alive. And one thing to know is that the applause might stop before the heroism is no longer needed. We may grow defeated. We may come to be demoralized. We may be tempted to think that the life we used to miss when we first came indoors was never all that good in the first place. We may be tempted to think - and many already have - that two months of diligent hand washing is enough, we’ve done our part, now let us have brunch again. It won’t happen all at once - nothing ever happens all at once, I think, even the most traumatic and violent occurrences ripple out over minutes, hours, weeks, months, years. It’s not like you’re going to hear on the news one day that we’ve defeated the virus, the great victory, ticker tape parades erupting in metropolises all over the world. It won’t happen all at once. I don’t know when you will be in a room other than the 3 or so you see now with a group of friends again. I do not know when I will play music for an audience not mediated by screens and Internet connections. In my most depraved fantasies I remember how when I was 18 I was hired by a professor who was going away for the summer to mow her lawn while I stayed on campus. Those five or six afternoons I got the engine running and smelled the hot belch of 2 stroke motor smoke mixed with the intoxicating cut grass smell, well, they were simple and perfect, I’d blast music in headphones and just grin and grin, getting sunburned, and even though I did a shit job of the work this is what I fantasize about when I think about a return to normalcy. And it’s not that I couldn’t mow a lawn now. In fact in this semi abandoned college town I’m staying in I am surrounded by plots of land that need mowing, and in fact yesterday I saw a number of threshers being pulled by tractors, ripping up the winter crop cover. It’s not that I can’t mow a lawn, or do yard work - the thing that I’m prevented from doing, currently, is truly and deeply enjoying a simple and profound pleasure, one free of guilt or anxiety or the semi-sweet quality of enjoying something while so many suffer, while so many die. There are pleasures available to the fortunate among us - my life is filled with many pleasures - we eat well and laugh deeply every day - despite the current context and my having fucked up my ankle so badly last week (running on a treadmill used to be my favorite thing to do, remember?). What I’m saying is that at some point in the future, however long coming, there will be a simple pleasure from which we can drink deep and be free of thirst. The cup will overflow.
What about you? Are you overflowing? Are you doing yardwork? Are you anxiously tapping your foot?
Thanks for reading - - hope this helps.