I like the way that serendipity has been showing me the way lately.
To put my first two records together, without creative compromise, has been a stressful but rewarding journey. Family/world problems have made the realization of this creative work seem, at times, like a ridiculous pursuit. "This is the time for loud-mouthed, dark-hearted bastards, not sensitive song crafters... right?"
To be so ambitious in a time when I have limited money and clout is also a bit of an uphill march, especially when trying to corral outside collaborators together.
My music career, if concentrated in one place and not interrupted by health problems and the like, would perhaps be a very successful one with many eyes and ears on it. I see my reality as a lucky break; I got to become a better writer while still in the shadows. Not to mention a better person. I've had the privilege of developing to the point that my second tier songs are still good songs.
What fate had in store for my first ten years of public music-making has been a strange, seemingly nonlinear path... just when I'd made a few fans by playing loud, jammy rock steadily in New Brunswick and New York, I was suddenly bumming around Pennsylvania with an acoustic guitar, trying to get attention for original songs that nobody asked for. The day I wrote "Count The Colors," for example, I played three songs (cover songs, no less) in a dive bar in my hometown to absolutely NO applause.
But the thing is, I knew I'd written "Count The Colors" that day.
(Also, I taunted the crowd a little on my way out. That was fun.)
I'm taking the long way, but I've learned so much each place I've visited. In art/music, you take it all with you.
There's a certain point when you've got to know in your core that you have the goods and the rejection of a couple strangers has nothing to do with the mission that you're on. You're signal, they're noise. It took me a long time and a lot of work, but I'm there now. I know what I bring to the table.
After many years of lurking in the shadows, I am taking my songs outside to play in the sun. It is Marcella's inspiration that has revitalized me as a songwriter.
I wasn't able to write songs after the one-two punch of my dad having a debilitating stroke and my mom's house burning down immediately afterwards. But as the sole possessor of the memories of Greg's and Marcella's relationship, I refused to let them recede into the past. I wasn't gonna let our time together be reduced to a pile of photographs, even beautiful ones. My deeper motivation - as always - is to use the majesty of music to capture the FEELINGS of my lifetime. Mainly, perhaps, for myself and for the fear of losing sight of the beauty and spiritual depth we experienced.
Once a song is complete, though, it is endlessly rewarding to see how it touches others' lives. Creating music, for me, is a way of making sure that the richest parts of my life don't become reduced to Cliff Notes. I want to be able to walk right into these scenes like it's a dream I'm having. I want you to be able to do the same.
She's the reason that my songwriting has not only restarted but has reached a new plateau I never imagined was possible.
I was being vague a while ago when I was talking about serendipity. I was getting stressed out about trying to organize four busy guys together to practice my songs, so I started thinking about doing the project almost totally alone (faster). Before I could make any changes, I saw Nick Crocker on my way to the dairy aisle. Nick Crocker, my prose readers may recall, played music at Marcella's bedside the day before she died. He's also one of the biggest fans of these and other songs of mine.
I decided to make some tweaks to the plan to speed it up, but in the end, Nick Crocker will be playing guitar with me. He's on my team. And this is our time. We will, indeed, do this work and we won't be afraid to be ambitious. Fuck it. Life is short. We are gonna do beautiful things while we're here.