I’ll Be What I Am: A Solitary Man

I just had one of those classic laugh-out-loud all by yourself moments.

I’m on my knees cleaning the bathtub cranking Neil Diamond’s “Hot August Night,” totally rockin’ that shit out. The chorus to “Solitary Man” hits and I’m, like, dancing in the bathroom. “Don’t know if I will but until I can find her / A woman to stay and not play games behind me / I’ll be what I am / A solitary man.”

The guy’s f’in brilliant, the consumate songwriter.

Duke Rashkow’s mom sang backup on a bunch of his records. She worked in the Brill Building, the legendary home of songwriting on Broadway and 50th (or so) where Neil Diamond, Carol King, Phil Spector, and tons of others sat and wrote songs all day long, just like a 9-to-5 job.

Anyway, it’s sweltering outside. I’m inside where it’s cool. I woke up at 7, went running, grabbed breakfast (You know the routine now, right? Heck, you probably know what I ordered), then walked over and down Fifth Avenue to H&M (nothing, again) and the Gap (lame, I know, but just for boxers and undershirts). Then I took the subway to Union Square and trekked over towards Filth Mart on 13th and Avenue A. Man, you haven’t done New York until you’ve walked through the East Village in the searing summer heat. Miserable. Sweat spouting from every pore. Everything in slow motion. Of course, Filth Mart was closed. So I traipsed back to Union Square to Paragon Sports (sneakers and running shorts), Bed Bath & Beyond (beach towel), and home on the 1/9 to my AC and Neil.

As I was walking in the East Village, though, I thought to myself, “I feel it returning.” It’s been a while since I’ve written a truly kick ass song. Maybe since, I dunno’, February or March when I wrote “Golden Wings.”

So anyway, walking, sweating, listening to a John Mayer/Ryan Adams mix, I feel the well re-filling. And there’s a lot going on with the remix ep and the tour. And my new homework assignment! I’ve found that the best things I’ve created have been inspired or motivated or at least influenced by things I’ve learned. “Summer’s Gone” is inspired quite directly by two songs: Buffalo Tom’s “Summer Song” and Michael Penn’s “Bunker Hill.” That, and, of course, my own life. So to that end, I’ve assigned myself some cover songs to learn and learn from (some I already know but need to play more). Here’s the partial list. Any of them could show up on the next EP, the next CD, and/or the next shows…

Wild Horses – The Rolling Stones
I’m Always In Love – Wilco
No Myth – Michael Penn
Ghost World – Aimee Mann
American Girl – Tom Petty
I’ve Been Waiting – Matthew Sweet
Take It Easy – The Eagle’s (my dad’s favorite)
Time Has Told Me – Nick Drake
How Can I Tell You? – Cat Stevens
Atlantic City – Bruce Springsteen
Take Me Home – Phil Collins
Sister Golden Hair – America
Solitary Man – Neil Diamond (just added!)

P.S. The new subtitle of the “Summer’s Gone EP” is “(Or, What I Did With My Summer Vacation)”.

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