Well Done, Boy

I step off the ACE at 34th Street, climb the stairs, and escape into the cool evening air. It’s 9:15. I cross 33d, and am in front of the post office when I pass two drunken Yuppies laughing and yelling at each other at the top of their lungs. I feel my hand brush something, and hear the crash of breaking glass.

Distracted by the Yuppies on my left, I barely saw the old man on my right. I brushed up against him with scarcely enough pressure to topple a house of cards, and he dropped his brown paper bag. “That was a brand new fifth of vodka!” he says. He’s black. He has gray hair and Coke-bottle glasses. He walks with a cane. I can smell booze on his breath. He’s not so much angry as surprised.

“How much did the bottle cost, sir?” I ask.

“That was a brand new fifth of vodka!” he says. “I just bought that! It was eight dollars!”

What would YOU do? (I’ll tell you what I did at the end of this post.)

So I get to rehearsal and we start with the songs we already ran through on Monday. And we nitpick all sorts of things: intros, outros, bass lines in bridges, tempos, blah blah blah. And it’s un-fun, and it’s frustrating, and it occurs to me that ‘real’ bands with ‘real’ producers spend all kinds of time and money sweating every last note, but I like how they feel, so we keep moving through the set.

Ends up my song ‘Radio’ has a similar progression to ‘Hollywood Arms’ (which has a similar progression to ‘Here Comes Your Man,’ but that’s supurfluous), so we talk about how to keep them distinct through key changes, instrumentation, etc., but then just go ahead and play them. And while we’re playing them I think, ‘Well, I could just play them solo. It workes for Damien Rice.’ But I like the way the band sounds, so we press on.

We get to ‘Stay,’ the last of seven songs the band performs on (the rest will be filled out by Kevin and me on keyboards, percussion, etc.), and I can’t remember it. At all. A song I wrote just over a year ago. And it’s 11:30, our time has run out, so we pack up and roll. Tony and I agree to work out the progression while Rosa sets up her drums at Sunday’s recording session. Which is fine with me. Lotsa’ band get keepers on the first take. And I can always play it alone.

So, the guy and the bottle.

I offer him money, then realize I only have twenties. So I walk back down into the subway and ask a tellar for change. He’s already counted out his register, so I try another. And the guy’s limping behind me saying things like, ‘I hope I can trust you!’ as I scurry ahead, assuring him over my shoulder. So, I break a twenty and figure, what the heck, and give ’em eight bucks.

Sucker? Maybe. But I figure somewhere, someone is looking down from some billowy white cloud saying, ‘Well done, boy.’ Or not. But it felt like the right thing to do, and I slept soundly.

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