Bleeding Out Loud

So. Where to start. What to say. I’ve spent this Saturday alone in my apartment, watching a Stanley Kubrick documentary, and “The Shining.” Perhaps not the best way to spend a day that began in a dark mood to begin with, but fitting, perhaps, what with this unseasonable cold snap, the wind and rain.

Last night. The show. I suppose it was pretty excellent. Julia and Todd are pros, and sweethearts. Everyone seemed to love the lineup, the cello and the acoustic, the beauty, the melencholy, the hope. There was a point in “Dear Elizabeth” — the last verse when I’m singing “What’s left behind to shoulder grows weightless” — when the bustling Sidewalk fell still around us. That was pretty special. I knew it in that moment, and logged it in my catalog of special moments. It’s in there with the others: sunrise above the Black Canyon; sunset over the Pacific; the sound of medals clinking just over New York Marathon finish; the curtain call after “Pippin.”

But still… but after… there’s always this. This longing, this let down, this disappointment that, maybe, it could have been more, or lasted forever, or solved some inner riddle, something inside broken.

When I was ten, flying between Chicago and Washington, D.C., caught in the middle of my parent’s divorce, I began escaping into the pages of Rolling Stone magazine. This all began with those interviews with Michael Jackson, with Bruce Springsteen, with the Flavor of the Month. The writer got inside them, it seemed, privy to their quiet moments, their downtime on some penthouse couch somewhere. They seemed just like me: imperfect outsiders, sensitive dreamers. But they were acclaimed for it, rewarded for it. I wanted what they had.

My escape into headphones was already in full swing. I sat in the living room with thick 70s headphones over my ears listening to Styx’s “Paradise Theater,” Neil Diamond’s “Jazz Singer,” Billy Joel’s “Glass Houses.” I didn’t consider credibility or artistic merit or any kind of judgement. I just knew it gave me goosebumps, moved me, transported me somewhere other than my suburban Chicago living room, somewhere other than the divorce, someone other than — better than — myself.

And I think now, 20 years later, that the seeds were sown there. The Rock n’ Roll Fantasy. That if I could be one of them, I would be special, and I would be happy, and everything would be fine.

So maybe, no matter what, it’s not enough. Whether I perform to great applause at the Mercury Lounge, or rave review in my high school auditorium, whether I stand on some mountain top or street corner somewhere, I’m left here, at the end of the day, with just me, in the living room, listening to music on my headphones. And until that’s enough, until I’m enough, then maybe it won’t matter what achievement, or the height. At the end of the day, we’re all just ourselves, alone for the world, struggling to make sense of it, struggling to find our place in it. I suppose that’s why we all listen, why we all go to shows. Maybe in some way, I act all of that our for the audience. “Bleeding out loud.”

I endeavor to get there; to being there. To being here.

So stay tuned, stick with me.

I won’t let us down.

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