It’s Hard

Rock ‘n roll is a fire set by young bodies. One day you wake up and smell your own flesh burning.

Pete Townsend said that.

I didn’t catch on to The Who right away. Chris had “It’s Hard” on vinyl, but his Sears Solid State stereo didn’t do it any justice. It wasn’t until one night during my sophomore year that I really got it. I was driving a very drunk Herschel Keller home in his black BMW when “Eminence Front” came on his Alpine stereo. The drum machine intro isn’t very Who at all, but man, it creates a mood. The song builds to some 80s rock greatness, but Townsend says, “It’s a put on.” It’s a put on. The guy was giving away his secrets. Still, even now, I listen to it and feel like some bad ass, road-worn gangster: faux or real, who cares?.

My flesh was burning today. I’m trying to finish the new album’s artwork, figure out how to finance it, plan Northeast and Midwest tours, get a bit of press, yada yada yada, but I was fatigued — physically and mentally — all day. Every plan I made, everything I calculated — it all seemed like just a bit too much. It all seemed like the final straw. It all seemed grossly, um, insignificant. A younger man’s game.

Example: I want to get to Des Moines next week so Jason can shoot the album cover (and to sit in on their show), but I’d have to skip mastering, and the Staten Island Half-Marathon. So I think maybe I ought to stay put. Which means I might feel healthy, but I won’t have an album cover.

Even rehearsal was a drag. I write songs pretty quickly. I’d rather write ’em than rehearse ’em. And songs like “Shiver” have so many f’ing words. So I baked some salmon (brain food!), cracked a few beers, and drilled ’em. Monday night’s Rockwood residency will be special, even if I have to sacrifice every non-working, non-running, non-sleeping moment in between.

Tuning into KUSP at lunchtime to hear my buddies The Nadas do a live acoustic set didn’t help extinguish the fire. No, I smelled it burning. It felt like they were on my office with me. I was smiling, and laughing, and singing along. I was happy for them, but bummed for me. They’re driving Meat Loaf’s old bus across these great western roads, and I’m parked at my desk twenty-nine stories above Times Square. Boo hoo.

But Jason just called, and he’s excited. Sounds like radio’s warming up to The Nadas — finally — and they’re feeling some momentum. Which they deserve. They’ve worked along, long time. So they’re gonna come to New York a few days early to play a few shows, shake a few hands. I told ’em I’d help, and I will. And I told Jas, “Dude, focus on process, not outcome. If you relish the process, the outcome will take care of itself.”

I should heed my own advice.

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