Things Are Looking Up

Rain is in the air. I can smell it. Oddly enough, it smells like the desert: warm, and dusty.

I’m in my bedroom on the sixth floor above West 80th Street. The windows are all open. The sliding door is thrown wide. A strong breeze is blowing in from the west, scattering the Post-It notes, scribbled lyrics, track listings, and postcards across my desk.

I just finished dinner: shumai, a shrimp and asparagus roll, and a California roll. “Friday Night Lights” is paused on my DVD player. I’m listening to Michael Penn’s “Mr. Hollywood Jr.” I’m waiting on one final email from work. I am tired, but I am well.

I ran this morning. It was an August sky: hazy, cast in red. But the trees were in bloom. Central Park was exploding pinks and greens. I ran through Strawberry Fields, along The Lake, over the Bow Bridge, around Bathesda Fountain, through the Ramble, up to Belvedere Castle, down through Shakespeare’s Gardens, up Summit Hill, then home via Starbucks and Andy’s Deli. It was great.

The MTV was harried, as always. The workday was punctuated by a visit to the dentist. I retain two dinky bridges intended to be temporary when they were installed sixteen years ago. Now they’re ugly and fragile and all that’s keeping me from a full-on Hollywood smile. That and ten grand.

I was offered another last-minute show today. I took it, making May the busiest month ever. Still, it’s going to be a neat month. In addition to two Smith Family shows (our last two), I’m going to perform as an acoustic trio (Tony on upright bass!), a duo (with pianist Dan Zola), and solo in a songwriters circle. Then I’m going to start in on my new album.

It really is insane that I’m considering a new album, but I can’t really help myself. I’ve got the songs, they’ve got their context (that is, they have a story to tell), and I think they’re good and worthy. So the current plan is to record in June and July (half in the studio, half at home), play a residency in September, release the record in October, and tour in November.

The new record will include stuff I’ve recorded here, like “Milk & Honey” and “Harder To Believe” (which I’ve taken to performing live). I have the tracklisting all set (though I think it just blew out the window).

Of course, I really have no business releasing a new record, primarily because I can’t afford to. But I really can’t help it. It’s like, as soon as I had ten solid songs and I could tell they had an arc (‘This song will start the record,’ I thought, ‘Then I’ll cover that song and end with this one’), it was all happening in my head. And now I’ve said it out loud. So I have to do it.

For now, though, I have to batton down the hatches. It’s raining on my laptop. And there’s green tea ice cream waiting for me in the freezer.

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