Tremendous brunettes around, indeed. I am happy. And it snowed! And I’m writing songs! And going back to Berlin! Happy happy.
I went over to Scrap’s in WBurg yesterday. We went through the songs we’re gonna do at the Old Knit celebration on Thursday. He’s a great guitar player. Marc Ribot used to use bass players as his guitar players in his circa-1993 group Shrek; now I see why. He doesn’t suffer from guitar-player-ism.
Scrap is just a musical dude, too, unlike the majority of this planet’s guitar players. He picks amazing notes to augment the chords. I keep encouraging him to get weird in the breaks, and when he busts out with some weirdness, it’s giddy and divine.
I’m sure there are more guitar players than any other kind of instrumentalists in the Western World; I’m also certain there are fewer good guitar players than any other instrumentalist. What is it about that instrument? (ps, not that I’m absolving myself!)
I told Scrap I’m going home to watch the Oscars.
“Is Matt Damon nominated for anything?” he asks.
No, I say.
“Then I’m not watching,” he says.
I am cramming the German. Going through flashcards of irregular verbs and adjective endings on the train. Pronouncing the words to myself, unafraid to look stupid.
I’m flying back to Berlin on Saturday night. Staying in an apartment in Prenzlauer Berg, which is exciting–being right there in the middle of my favorite neighborhood, living semi-real-Berliner style, not being in a hotel. Cheaper, too, which is key, as I need to get back there often in order to really get this Deutsch thing down.
My plan is to be constantly going to 12-step meetings (Orthodox 12 steppers please note I’m still keeping anonymity intact). That there are meetings all over the world–I’ve been to them in Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Amsterdam, you name it–is a fantastic resource for getting to know local people outside the traveler’s circuit. All I can really say in German (that’s pertinent) is something like: I did lots of drugs, I hated myself, I didn’t want to die, I love life, I am happy now.
I intend to be stubborn and speak only German. Germans are generally really nice about this, and pleased that you want to speak their language, in spite of the fact that nearly all of them speak English flawlessly.
Expect photos of currywurst from Konnopke’s Imbi
Pat Dillett and I went down into the pedestrian tunnel between the 1 and the L trains on 14th street and did some recording.
This was the site of my first attempt at busking, when I was 19. I had a friend who was making a living playing “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” over and over again on subway platforms. I made it all of ten minutes before I split, completely demoralized by the people rushing past without paying attention.
Now that I make a cushy living as a singer/songwriter, I make it a point to give two bucks to every busker I encounter in the subway. They’re the hardest working people in show business.
Pat held a mic up to me, and I did maybe ten songs, sometimes between trains, when the tunnel was empty, sometimes when the tunnel was full of voices and footsteps, all of which I hope made it onto the tape. I haven’t heard it yet, but there were certain seredipitous moments that I think would sound fantastic; somebody humming along tunelessly with their iPod just as I ended a song, drunk voices shouting between tunes.
I got lots of smiles, and made $3.10. Two dollar bills, four quarters, and a dime.
I reconnected recently with my old friend Rachel Benbow Murdy. She was the girl who did the answering machine vocal on “Janine”. She is amazingly sharp, crazy, and funny. She has an incredibly precise and psychedelic view of reality. She has a fantastic gift for connecting the dots. She used to videotape conversations, years ago, when we lived together, and then watch them immediately afterwards, cackling at all the perverse cosmic connections she saw.
We both just got out of relationships. Personally, I’ve been feeling like a sexual ghost; just not interested. I’ve met some beautiful women in the past couple of months, have tried to shake myself into pursuing them, and just can’t do it.
I wrote that line in “40 Grand in the Hole,” “What is a life without my heart at risk?” because I hadn’t put my heart at risk in a long time. It is wonderful and amazing to do so, but this is an unexpected cost. I expected the pain, but not this kind of weird refractory period of being alone.
I broke up with her, then regretted it, and then she turned me down. I did it, of course, because I still love her, but also because, maybe, I just feel more comfortable being rejected than rejecting. People have been saying, “Oh, this will be good, you can write songs about it.” But I’ve been writing songs about the same kind of composite, ideal psychometaphoric-shadow-woman for a long time.
One-Sentence German Poems:
I’ve been writing these in the morning, to keep my Deutsch sharp, and because it throws my writing mind a curveball:
Sie hat die ganze Welt gegessen (She has eaten the entire world.)
Ich habe den reinen Prunk gesucht. (I have sought pure splendor.)
Sie hat die rauhe Stimme ged
To my producer and most beloved homeboy Dan Wilson! Who won a Grammy! Last night! For co-writing the Dixie Chicks’ “Not Ready to Make Nice.”
I plan to address Dan from now on as “Grammy-award winning Dan Wilson.” Excuse me, Grammy-award-winning Dan Wilson, could you please pass the bread?
Scrap came over and we watched the Superbowl while his daughter Larry wreaked havoc. It was pretty ludicrous that the two of us got together to watch a sporting event. We shushed Larry when the commercials came on.
Prince absolutely stunned us. It was the best arena rock guitar-hero show I’ve ever seen in my life. In what, ten minutes?
Sent to me by old friend Jeremy Wolff–see more of his at very.com