Who You Are And Who You Could Be

I strongly considered calling it quits last week.

I was over being The Musician in about fifteen seconds. Coupled with a few other existential challenges that came my way concurrent the being outed in The Gray Lady, the whole week, well, the whole week just sucked it. Hard.

I considered changing my name back to Ben (which everyone calls me but isn’t how introduce myself and which should be viewed, not literally, but through the lens of metaphor), shuttering this website, and — most alarming to even me — cashing in the music thing (for $.49, but still).

As recently as this morning I was doing my best not to cry in public. I’m not even entirely sure why. I was telling my mom about this dude I know who’s a recently recovering and recently lapsed alcoholic. I could barely say his name.

“Hello, my name is Bob, and I’m an alcoholic.”

I’ve spent the balance of the weekend here, at my desk in front of the big south facing window, pouring over DAT tapes of previously-released albums, unreleased demos, and live recordings for the Friends of BWD, LLC, project. You’ll recall that in exchange for a small Pay Pal donation, I’d pledged MP3s of my first record, “Always Almost There” (which was previously only available on cassette) and “The Christopher Street EP” (which contributed heavily to “Love & Other Indoor Games” but never saw the light of day).

So over the course of Saturday and Sunday I’ve heard stuff I recorded as recently as last November, and as long ago as 1993. I heard plenty of crap. But overwhelmingly, I was kinda’ surprised: shit didn’t suck. And I found a coupla’ gems: a few songs I don’t remember writing (“Lottery,” “Hero In Me,” “Might Have Been”) and a few cool live things, like a performance of “World Leader Pretend” recorded two weeks after September 11th.

I mentioned this whole project at brunch with my mother this morning, and made a humbling and almost heartbreaking admission.

“I listened to over ten years of my songs today,” I said. “You know, me trying to figure my shit out. I resolved that I haven’t learned a fucking thing.”

And what does my mom do? She starts laughing so hard she nearly spit up her bloody Mary. She’s laughing so hard that she’s pounding her fist on the table, turning all shades of red, covering her face with a napkin. People are staring.

Fuck it, I decided, and laughed too. Beats the alternative, right?

It wasn’t the laughter, though, that saved my life. It was the music.

I rehearsed with for Tuesday’s “Love & Other Indoor Games” release party (7:30 pm at Canal Room on Canal and West Broadway) tonight. By the end of our marathon three hour session, I could breath again. I could walk again. I could fly again. I felt like me again. I hadn’t heard one of those annoying, self-defeating voices or ruminated on any of my worries for hours. And Dough sounds better than any band I’ve performed with since, well, ever.

I was fine. I knew everything was going to be ok. Evidence had suggested that in fact I had learned something, even if there’s lots left to learn.

Three chords and the truth go an awful long way.

And so I will keep my name. I will continue this website. I will keep recording, releasing, and performing my songs. I won’t be The Musician, or even A Musician. I’ll just be me: MTV News guy, singer/songwriter, triathlete, writer, friend, brother, son, uncle. And it’ll have to be good enough, ‘cuz that’s what I’ve got.

But enough of my yackin’. Whaddya’ say? Let’s boogie.

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