Here Comes The Sun

February 25, 2005, was nothing short of miracuous.

I woke well before my alarm at 6:35 from a series of dreams into which all of my life’s major players, excepting my parents, made prominent cameos. I saved them all: Erin from an ill-fated relationship, Sibby from an ill-fated lifestyle, and my brother from the clutches of gigantic, cannibal witch. At the end of the dream, I stood before all three of them and sobbed.

A fresh blanket of snow had fallen overnight. The sun hadn’t yet risen. I pulled on my running shoes and went downstairs to await the sunrise. I sat on my stool, set up for the evening’s performance, and began strumming “Here Comes The Sun” randomly and for the first time in my life. Sadness rose in me like lava as I sang the words, “Little darlin’, it’s been a long and lonely winter.” Soon I was choking back months of heartache, and then, in a torrent, heavy tears, until I couldn’t sing anymore.

I stepped outside and ran through Central Park clutching my camera. The Gates, great bursts of color against the drab winter landscape, fluttered in the wind. I paused every few hundred yards and snapped photos, knowing full well that literally and existentially, this moment was fleeting.

My workday began with a marathon, three-hour broadband meeting. I spent the precious minutes of our mid-morning break arranging for a custom t-shirt for the evening’s performance. “Kluge,” I explained to Harvey at Custom T-Shirts on 80th Street (use Neighborhoodies if you have time; Harvey’s a bit of a jerk). “K-L-U-G-E. Black letters on a gray shirt. Medium. Perfect, thanks.”

I’ve been bandying the word (“a system, especially a computer system, that is constituted of poorly matched elements or of elements originally intended for other applications; a clumsy or inelegant solution to a problem”) around quite a bit at work, and it seems, somehow, to be meaningful in the rest of my life. I’ve called this a rebuilding year. I feel a little like Frankenstein, cobbled together from the parts of my life that have worked, and the scars tissue of that which didn’t. So I thought I embrace it. Seemed funny and/or poignant.

A half-dozen creative and organizational meetings (one of which involved me wolfing down a salad as my colleagues sat across my desk from me discussing the computer system we were, ahem, kluging together), and a few major deadlines later, I skipped out of the office. I had butterflies in my stomach (host, engineer, perform) and a yellow sticky in my pocket (t-shirt, flowers, beer, chips, candles) as I stepped off the subway at 72d Street.

No sooner had I showered, changed, and lit a few candles, then the buzzer began screaming: first Rachel (with wine, bless her heart), then Heather, Elisa, Ted, Joe … and then I lose track. Showtime and I haven’t even gotten levels for the live recording. Showtime and I’ve never played “Here Comes The Sun” straight through, yet I intend to close with it.

Showtime. This is when it turns blurry, and not because of the booze because I laid low on that (until the performance was over, of course). But this is also when it turns beautiful, and meaningful, and wonderful. Here’s my big white apartment, virtually empty for the three months I’ve owned it, full of friends and strangers alike. And here’s me, sitting on a stool with a guitar in one hand, an Apple G4 laptop in the other. I’m playing, and singing, and clicking on icons, and telling stories. And we’re joking and laughing and singing and even crying — just a little bit — together. It’s not about me, it’s about us. And we’re all richer for it.

I can regurgitate facts. I started at nine o’clock. I played twelve songs. A cell phone rang in the middle of “The One I Love.” I abandoned “Jenny” on the second try. I used a cheat sheet for the lyrics to “Shiver.” And I forgot to push record on the encore.

But it wasn’t about that. And I don’t want facts and figures and “did this, did that” to be the take away message. No, it was sweeter than all of that. It was luckier than all that. It was, well, miraculous.

I didn’t muster the courage to listen to the recording until this afternoon. I have a long history of hating live recordings of myself. And this one isn’t perfect. But it is real. It’s the dreams, the tears, the snow, the sky, the work, the worry, the friends, and all of the things that were February 25, 2005.

Of course, my original plan was to put some MP3s online. And I’ve done that (go here). But I was so pleased with the experience, and the result, that I decided to hand-craft a full-length CD. So that’s what I’ve been doing all day. I edited the tracks, maxed the levels, sweetened them with just a touch of reverb, and put together a new CD, artwork and all. I futzed around with a couple of title ideas — “Cold February Night,” “Afterglow,” “Live On The Upper West Side” — but in the end just decided to leave well enough alone. It is what it is: “February 25, 2005.”

Nothing short of miracuous.

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