Boston “Summer’s Gone” Tour Report

Walking home past the Museum of Natural History tonight, a few fallen leaves blew down the sidewalk in the crisp autumn breeze, and I finally felt it for real. That’s it. It’s over. Summer’s gone.

It wasn’t gone when I kicked off my tour at the Mercury here in New York City. The air was still warm and humid, despite the calendar. And it wasn’t gone as I drove through the deep green kudzu of the South. But as we crept further and further North, the leaves began to change, the air turned colder, and as each successive city and show fell away behind me, it all began to come to a close.

“Summer’s Gone” has been more than a song and a remix EP. Autumn has always been the saddest season for me, as long as I can remember. Maybe it’s because my birthday is on Labor Day, or the whole back-to-school thing, or just the diminishing sunlight. As this whole process has evolved — from writing the song in August of 2000 to recording it for the LP to the remixes and the tour — it’s become some sort of passage, some sort of closure: growing up, getting over, moving on.

On the back of “Crash Site,” the CD the song in question first appeared, there’s a blurry plane — crashing, or crash landing, it always seemed to me — on the front, and an empty field of runway lights on the back. On the “Summer’s Gone” EP, there’s a plane landing on that same field of runway lights. And that’s what tonight feels like. I’ve landed. I’m “back down to earth,” though I’m not quite sure where I’ve arrived, in what state, which time zone.

The last date of the six city tour was Saturday in Boston at the Kendall Cafe. My brother and his friend Mark drove me, rain and traffic all the way. The show was somber, maybe, though I talked and gave context between songs. I felt a little out of place in a town where I’ve spent so much time (I recorded “Out of Your Head” there in 1996). Many of my friends have moved, if not out of the state, at least into the suburbs to marry, and have kids.

So this time, I felt slightly alien, slightly alone. Sure, many great friends came out and sang along. I sang everything to them, for them. We had a great time after the show stumbling down Mass. Ave. into a late night pizza joint for hot subs and slices. This morning, I ran along the Charles in a gray drizzle, then blew all of my earnings on CDs (R.E.M. singles, The Samples “No Room,” James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James”) at Newbury Comics. Then it was back to the Mass. Pike, I-84, and back home through the rain to New York City.

So… I’m not sure what’s next. I have hours of video tape to potentially edit into some travelogue. I have new songs, including one I wrote just tonight called “This Song” (as in “at least I still have this song”). But mostly, I have this tired body, this heavy heart, and this overwhelming sense of uncertainty.

And gratitude. For it may not be turning out quite like I planned or schemed or dreamed, but it’s turning out, it’s developing, and soon enough, maybe, I’ll see this big picture a little more clearly.

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