Been thinking about batteries. I don’t hold a charge for very long, but I hold one. I gotta sleep, process creative ideas, connect with my goals, connect with my obligation$, connect with loved ones. I have to move. That drive to downtown Carrboro and, as it turned out, down a gorgeous country farm road that wasn’t REALLY on the way home, made me feel alive. It also made me feel alive to do time-consuming work on my computer. It’s all very tedious and I fucking love it.
Anxiety. Not a specific worry. Just anxiety. When I was in 1991 yesterday, Bob Dylan was talking about evil thoughts vs. good thoughts. Sounded vaguely religious to me. What I would say is lazy thoughts vs. inspired thoughts. Weak battery thoughts vs. charged battery thoughts. I like that charged battery mindset. I was there at the coffee shop today. Getting high on caffeine sure helps. But it’s not the only route.
Right now I’m going down the Yuengling Highway. It… works. But I guess I want to be high more than I want to be low. I want to accomplish more things. Wait. Do I know how to relax? I told the Robertsons I only relaxed as a child while I was swinging on a swingset. I only felt relaxed today when I was driving down a country road and taking a walk downtown. I guess I am someone who needs to move. Is that my nature or is it symptomatic of anxiousness?
Now it is the next day. I got into a habit of writing the date. But I also got into the habit of just not writing at all. I think I’ll just write now right now. While this post-coffee/post-shower energy is flowing through me.
I want to be great, happy, and free and I’m wondering which moves I can make toward those goals today. Health, money, and music are the main gateways to these things. Love and art exist, too, but they don’t really require much planning. I art every day and I love every day. “28 Moons At Topsail,” or whatever I’m calling it, is two lovely pieces. That’s new. Maybe I’ll put it on Etsy right now.
Now I am slackjawed and staring at a TV and feeling like
Now it’s the next day. I wrote all that other stuff thinking I was writing for me. What the smuff - I’ll make this public.
I’m sitting at a beautiful desk in a room with big windows that allow sunlight tinted by the many green trees surrounding us to flood in. It’s beautiful and relaxed because it’s the American South and it’s progressive because it’s three miles from University Of North Carolina. It’s a great blend. I believe it’s the best place I’ve ever been.
A guy on Franklin Street gave me a high five just for wearing yellow aviators.
I asked my cell phone where the coffee shop was and it gave me two screens’ worth of choices within three miles. A cool coffee shop doesn’t make a town great but I can’t think of a great town without a cool coffee shop. As I was leaving Looking Glass Cafe yesterday, a sign on a bulletin board noted that a “musician-friendly” apartment was available for about $400.
I tried writing the other day at Open Eye Cafe, but a traditional Irish folk music group was playing in the middle of the room so I just sipped and grinned.
Her battery isn’t holding a charge as well as mine is. She took it to technicians and they gave her bad news and a big bill. But she was built well and, on a good day, she operates pretty much like her old self. That smile makes me feel that everything is OK.
Yesterday was a bad day. It hurts to not be able to climb into her body and fix her ailments. I brought about three bags’ worth of my possessions on this trip, but none of them can fix her. I have to use other tools, instead. Humor. Back rubs. And the most important one - time. Just hanging out, even if it means I’m watching soccer or home remodeling shows on TV and I feel my brain jumping up and down like a toddler having a tantrum at a Garrison Keillor taping. I like Garrison Keillor. Don’t get me wrong. I also didn’t terribly mind looking at Jillian Harris.
But the point is to be there. We are at different speeds. I’m at 45 RPM, jumping up to 78 RPM when I have that second cup of coffee. Dipping down to 42 RPM late in the evening if I have a drink and accidentally lean my elbow on the turntable. She’s at a comfortable 33 RPM. Sometimes uncomfortable. Sometimes she’s stuck in the runout groove. (Is this making any sense to young readers? Oh, yeah; they’re the ones buying vinyl.)
But she’s there at 33. And she IS there.
I didn’t know how I’d cope with the news, but I knew I would figure it out. I went blindly into the future. Here I am. And there she is. Watching soccer.
I asked Little Tommy to remind me to finish reading Joe Boyd’s “White Bicycles” and to take the various supplements I brought with me from home. He periodically adopts his best stern adult man voice and directs me to “READ YOUR BOOK and TAKE YOUR SUPPLEMENTS.” It’s cute as hell. And he’s not wrong.
There are two kids here, one with the same calm demeanor as his dad, and one with a restless silliness that reminds me of my sister and I at her age. As far as I can tell, they have a lot less darkness to contend with than we did and that makes me very happy. We had to deal with a lot of stuff kids shouldn’t have to deal with. They have a lot of structure and they have a beautiful home. Of course, any home with love is a beautiful home. Regardless of what the fire marshal tells you. And like my sister and I were and are, they are loved.
I like those moments of being naked, feet on the cold bathroom floor, toothpaste circling the sink. It’s sometimes the first moment of the day my mind really feels free. Ya know? When you’ve gotten away from all the devices and books in which you could document an idea, the ideas start flowing like a shower head! It’s about time I install a water-resistant digital recorder in my bathroom at home.
But I digress. I digress pretty much exclusively.
Today’s shower idea was to write freeform pieces like I used to and post them online. I have a file called “notes.html” with pieces I wrote from 1998-2011. It’s 300 pages long. I used to leave them up indefinitely. “Yeah, but you can post a thing today and delete it tonight.” That’s true, Me Of Two Hours Ago. I can. I also could amend it so it’s one big-ass note documenting a week of my life that will never happen again. Yeah, I’ll do that.
I don’t know what’s gonna happen. That’s something that you and I have in common. Doris. Can I call you Doris? Sometimes, Stephen Colbert addresses the invisible TV audience as “Greg” and you can bet I laugh my ass off each time he does.
But it’s true; we have that in common. We don’t know what’s gonna happen. I have recently watched both Cosmos and cancer close-up and one thing they have in common is that, from a certain angle, they can make the typical everyday goals and concerns look meaningless. But I can’t help it. In my unprofessional, sometimes unfocused way, I am focused. I have meaning. I want to do work that I’m happy with and that other people are affected by. Some guy who was friends with an old collaborator texted him to say that the chorus of the song “gettin’ closer” was stuck in his head. I still have that screenshot and I treasure it. I don’t know who the guy is.
I’ve written a lot of songs that I love. Lots of people I know probably haven’t heard me sing a song. And even more people that I don’t know. I was in original rock & roll bands during my mid-twenties. I gave them all the energy I had and lots of money I didn’t. I’m very happy I did. The death of each band felt demoralizing, but looking back, I am happy that I didn’t find any success while I was still finding my voice. I got to quietly develop in the shadows. Loudly. Trying anything. Any damn thing we wanted. I wrote a song called “The Things I See In Your Girlfriend’s Eyes.” You’ll never hear it, but I did write it. We played to the backs of apathetic drunks at a sports bar in Morrisville, PA and got louder and wilder every time they didn’t clap between songs. We played a gig in New Hope that was accidentally so loud that Dean Ween complained about our volume. A thousand weird little moments that happened because we got off the couch and tried to do something. All the spoils of anonymity. And then we’d change the name of the band, just in case we were on the verge of having a fan or two who might want to find us again.
Now I have my voice, a little more of the pain and beauty of experience, a big metaphorical suitcase full of songs, and a real suitcase with two good microphones and some cheap recording gear. The plan is to record about three acoustic guitar-based records, with overdubs of harmony, piano, etc. They will be EPs or LPs, depending on how much sonic real estate I allow the weirdest, unhookiest songs to have. Knowing me, I will let the ugly freaks live among their presentable, more symmetrical neighbors.
The world isn’t demanding that I do this work, but I will do it anyway because I think it’s strong and I can record it with my roughly $500 studio. It will be down-and-dirty, but that’s what I like to listen to. I’m interested in music that flows out of me with the beautiful mindlessness of a late night looking at the stars with a few medicated pals on a summer night. I want to put out work that feels like it came right from my heart and nothing that didn’t.
The way I see it, all I have is my emotional truth, a bit of artistry as a word scrambler, a trick or two on the guitar, and a few gears in which I can drive my voice. Not much else. No name. No money. No biz contacts. I know that my songs have made people cry and laugh, and I know my face gets kissed a little more often when I’ve sung something. I’m gonna see what happens.
My heart’s been all over the place in the past two-ish years. I’ve taken so long to record my current batch of songs that an old collaborator accused me of being a “loser” and a “has-been.” Hey, buddy, I didn’t have anything to lose, and I never was! I do what my heart asks of me each day. I’ve had a lot of days dealing with the illness and death of Uncle Joe, my dad’s strokes, my house burning down, my girlfriend’s brain surgery and eventual cancer diagnosis, my mom’s various health problems, and my own problems. Life. Life with love. Life with loves who needed a lot of love. I’ve missed out on some fun times here and there, but I helped some people who needed it. Most of you people reading this are probably good folks with a conscience, too. We probably wouldn’t have become connected if not. Even the aforementioned collaborator is a good guy. We all have a well of anger and bitterness inside us and have to be wise enough to not drink from it. Even though it has trace amounts of whiskey in it. Mmm. Whiskey.
Hanging with all these young people this week has me wondering what I’ve grown into, so far, as an adult. I’m a lot like them. I haven’t put down any roots, but I owe money to some bad people (Capital One) and I am beginning to learn that most of the people and things I experience each day are fleeting and should be appreciated in-the-moment. This is all temporary. That’s pretty adult.
Speaking of pretty adult, I’m gonna go look for her. Talk to you later, Doris.
When I write again, I want to tell you about invader species, dolphins, Nonna, Hunga Bunga Java, and the word “y’all.”