Truth Time

Dar Williams has a record called ‘The Honesty Room.’ MTV’s ‘The Real World’ has its confessional. I have The Daily Journal, and it’s truth time.

In the past ten years, I’ve written at least a couple of songs a week. I’ve performed roughly once a month. And I’ve released about one LP or EP a year. I haven’t performed in going on a year. I haven’t written a good song — a keeper — in about that long. It’s been different. It’s been difficult. And it’s been strange.

There are a few reasons, I think. I hate booking shows: the kiss ass, the rejection, the sheer force of will required. I hate worrying about filling a room. I hate the pre-show anxiety, and post-show let down. It’s expensive to rehearse and pay a band (I’m not that interested in musical democracy, and the days of competent and like-minded musicians volunteering to be my back-up band are long passed). My guitar skills have peaked a little, I think, since ‘Crash Site.’ And I don’t feel like I have anything new to say. I learned most of the lessons — out loud and publically — over the course of my previously released records. And overall, as long as I’m being honest here, the relentless apathy of the music industry has been, well, pretty much heart breaking. One begins to feel like a tree falling in an empty forest over and over and over and…

Now you know.

But every so often, I remember why I do it. Or, as I like to say, why I can’t not do it. Last night, I went to Arlene to see my buddy Jason’s band Leroy Justice. And I smiled the whole time. Why? Not because they’re an earthshatteringly good band — Jason’s a terrific frontman, and has some terrific songs — but because they were having a ball. Jason was almost completely out of body. And that’s the reason to make art, to write or paint or perform: to leave the hassle, the money, the rejection, and — most essentially — the worry, far, far behind.

After the show, longtime bassist, friend and advisor Tony Maceli hung with me a bit and shared new songs, new ideas, and new plans. We listened to some records for reference — John Mayer, Fountains of Wayne, Ryan Adams — and generally got the ball slowly rolling again.

So, I’m stoked, I think I have plenty of great, new songs to offer: “California,” “Intent on St. Paul,” “Never be The Same.” And I still have some ideas. One is to get Jason to play a rippin’ solo on the countrified “Radio.” I gave him a burn of the song today. Another is to bring back an unrecorded chestnut, “Annalia (Come Back Home),” which I think will fit nicely into the emerging themes of this record (transience, gravity, departure, and arrival). And a bunch of other stuff: instrumentation ideas, sequencing ideas, and performance ideas. So stay tuned. There’s plenty more to come.

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