This entry is actually about songwriting, but some guy just said that on TV, and I was looking for a title.
I’ve been hunkered down and writing, trying to get a new record together. Waking up, picking up the guitar, writing melodies, going to the notebooks to pick out phrases to plug in. Loving the tune. Drinking coffee, walking across the Williamsburg bridge. Listening again: hating the tune. Going to bed, then waking up and listening yet again, and loving the tune. And so on.
I write in the morning. I don’t know why it works that way. I have a window of maybe three hours in which I’ll always come up with something when I pick up the guitar. After that, it’s a dice-roll. Sometimes I get a re-up in the early evening. But not always.
So going home at night and waking up in the morning has become what my life’s all about. It annoys my girlfriend, because it’s not so much about me not being able to hang out at night, but having to be at home and by myself in the morning.
Hating my little apartment. Getting cabin fever, because I’m at home most of day, working. I decided to stay in New York, really mostly for the girlfriend, but I don’t think I can do Manhattan anymore. I look around and think: Who are these people?
Anyway, I want to go someplace unhip, someplace I can have multiple rooms in my life–a room to sleep, a room to eat, a room to zone out in front of the TV, a room for the guitars and another room for the drum machines. Maybe Greenpoint, or the South Slope. Or maybe what Scrap calls an Old Man part of Brooklyn.
I messed up one tune, and then I collapsed like a house of cards.
Played the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago this past weekend. I really wished the gig were better. I was crazy strong out of the gate–Chuck the Legend rigged up the old Baby Taylor with an awesome pickup, and that Baby Taylor sounds amazing. I haven’t played it onstage in a couple years.
I really wanted it to be a great show. The show sold out six months in advance! And I haven’t done a completely solo acoustic show in–a couple years? Something like that.
Then I fucked up the MuRF pedal part on “Bells,” and kept trying to restart the tune, and it just–bleh. I feel like I never recovered.
You can’t win them all. The good thing about losing one is that you get it out of the way.
A weekend in Chicagoland.
Stoked for this show on Saturday night at the Old Town School in Chicago. The place is apparently small–the gig’s been sold out since November–and I’ve been deluged for months with emails from people asking me to do them a favor and get them in.
No dice. Chuck “The Legend” Radue–my FOH dude–has a zillion family members coming down from Wisconsin. I am giving them nearly all my guest list places in exchange for high quality cheddar.
I even got an email from somebody who works for Oprah, which, call me corny, delighted me.
Less stoked to be in Chicago on St. Patrick’s day–I’m flying there a day early to do a radio thing for WXRT. Yay drunks! Although there’s a Marc Ribot show at the Old Town School that night, maybe I’ll go there. He’s a longtime hero, I used to gawk at him when I worked at the Knitting Factory.
The question is–when do I go to the Wiener’s Circle? I don’t do the Wiener’s Circle after 9 pm, because I can’t take the verbal abuse (their trademark is insulting drunks). And I can’t go before the show as I would sound like mush. (go to the Wiener’s Circle and skip the cheese fries–?!) The idea of going to a legendary hot dog stand in the early evening if St. Pat’s in Chicago is frightening.
Anyway. Very excited about the gig, first strictly solo show in maybe a couple of years. I plan to whip out some chestnuts.
The man is moving on.
Our lovely and talented friend Dan Chen got a gig as musical director for Nicole Atkins, a great singer/songwriter that he’s been collaborating with for years. So, sadly, we must let our beloved friend go. Scrap, Pete, and I are definately stoked for him–we feted him with a boatload of congratulatory pizza at DiFara’s–but very melancholy.
Dan and I actually have a few gigs together, which I’m psyched about. Not least because hopefully it’ll be the creative equivalent of wild post-breakup sex. Albeit, scheduled wild breakup sex, which is odd.
Hey, speaking of which–piano players, I mean, not fucking your ex–if you’re a keyboard player and you live in New York and you’re awesome and you like what I do and you maybe want a gig, throw an mp3 or two my way. Link to my email is on the right, and a MySpace link as well.
As in all times of my life where there’s some kind of musical crisis, I have the same recurring dream: that somewhere along the way I forgot to quit Soul Coughing.
It took me this long to realize that this season’s Sopranos opens with FBI dude quoting the P.T. Barnum line “No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.”
I liked the large lurve Mormonizing show, too, but was put off by the normalcy of the polygamous family. Maybe I don’t know enough about polygamists.
It made a dent, though; that night I dreamed about an enormous crypto-Mormon amusement park filled with women all dressed like the Chloe Sevigny character, collared shirts buttoned up to the neck, long skirts.
I have a bunch of Utahn and Mormon friends and I wonder if they’re miffed by the show.
I saw Chloe Sevigny on the F train years ago and wished I dwelled in her groovy world. Watching Big Love I realized, with pleasure, that she’s now a veteran like me–a hipster eminence grise.
(Actually, maybe it was: ‘Remember me? I’m the world coming out your baby’s eyes.’ Or: ‘I’m the world coming at you, baby, live.’ Still mondegreens, though, I’m sure.)
I downloaded a .pdf of the Eugene Lang College course schedule and was perusing it nostalgically this morning.
Those of us who attended in the early 90s all derided the place for admitting any refugee of some other liberal arts school that just happened to want to live in New York (lots of us were transfer students), but looking back, there were a lot of fiercely talented people there at the time. Ani DiFranco, for instance, and Borzou Daragahi, nominated for a Pulitzer for his reporting in Iraq.
My art would be a lot different if it weren’t for the influence of Sekou Sundiata, who taught a poetry course called The Shape and Nature of Things to Come. Along with other courses by Peter Wallace, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Kurtis Lamkin.
Many of bitched about Lang’s second-classedness while sniffing heroin in the rear smoking lounge of the cafeteria. (Not Ani or Borzou, I hasten to add)
I recommend Lang, but do not recommend sniffing heroin.
I read the course catalog and fantasized about taking a year off from the touring/recording/promoting cycle and teaching songwriting at some liberal arts school located in some bucolic someplace somewhere.
A friend of mine’s en route to Iraq.
I went to a party upstate where I saw a bunch of high school friends. We’re all still pretty close, which is awesome. An old friend works for a certain intelligence agency, and he’s headed over there in a week or so for his second trip. He wore a goatee, and told me that you have to have facial hair if you expect any Iraqi to have any respect for you whatsoever.
I get emails from guys/fans in Iraq periodically; I just got some jpegs of a market from a guy in Iraq this morning. It’s humbling.
I’d like to get involved with the USO and go over there. I’m sure I’m not a very big name to your average soldier, but maybe I could, I don’t know, play Dave covers or something. I feel like I should support those guys. I think the war was a horrible, tragic, misbegotten idea–the Bush administration feeling that a certain noble cause was worth throwing thousands of young bodies at–but I also feel that, being there, we have to stick it out. We wrecked the country, now we have to help them rebuild it.
Maybe we’ll take the hard lesson, and the next RumsfeldWolfowitzCheney to come along won’t be so cavalier, even with an all-volunteer army. My personal hope is that fewer young people will volunteer at all. Wouldn’t this be an amazing society if we put that huge military budget (even the peacetime budget!!) into schools? Drug programs?
Is somebody out there gonna chide me for naivete for saying that? Yeah.
Everybody new to the blog, these are all pix of Asmara, capital of Eritrea, where I spent a few weeks this winter.
Having been exposed to Knapsack Pete McNeal’s espresso gourmandizing, my coffee habit grows ever more advanced.
Bad Mike. No donut.
Taylor Hicks is my spiritual boyfriend. Can you imagine if he won? Grey headed dude that dances like Joe Cocker–that joyous, twitching imbecile situation–and plays the harmonica. Of course, I had high hopes for Bo Bice, but his single makes me feel like covering my window with duct tape and aluminum foil and napping for a month. Don’t succumb, spiritual boyfriend Taylor Hicks!
I have taken to watching Regis and Kelly and wondering if the old ladies who call in for the Travel Trivia game have access to Google. I race them to see if I can’t Google the answer to the trivia question within the thirty seconds. Does the show have a producer listening in with some kind of audio filter to hear if keys are tapping? Can one buy a muffled keyboard?