Ask me how I’m doing and I’ll tell you, “Fine.” Ask me again (“No, really, how are you doing?”) and I’ll tell you the truth.
I’m feeling kinda lost.
My life of late has felt like sound and fury, signifying nothing. My goal was to take this year easy, to stay off the road, play less shows, release less records, focus on my day job, and my mental health. The result is something like boredom, with a dash or two of frustration. The MTV feels heavier now, given the ultimate admission to myself that, in fact, I am far more likely to be a Media Executive than a Rock Star. Days aren’t so much longer as they are more difficult. Much of it has to do with my role, of course: as Executive Producer, I am responsible for everything, but own nothing. Worse, I make nothing — I manage people, but I don’t make a thing.
And so all I wanted to do yesterday was get home from work, pour myself a beer, and sit on the deck and read. I got home around seven o’clock, and did just that. It was a beautiful night, clear and cool. The sky was beautiful, streaked with billowing pink and red clouds. I sat there reading straight through sunset, until I couldn’t see the words on the page. It was so quiet, so peaceful, and so far away from the noise and the frenzy that seem to own my life.
I’ve been reading Jim Derogatis’ “Staring At Sound: The True Story of Oklahoma’s Fabulous Flaming Lips.” I’m a late comer to the band’s music, having downloaded “The Soft Bulletin” and “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots” after seeing the band’s documentary, “Fearless Freaks,” last fall. I’m not crazy about all of the band’s songs — there’s an awful lot of noise and distraction — but I appreciate Wayne Coyne’s sheer madness, single-mindedness, inventiveness, showmanship, and committment to his vision.
The book is ok, not “A Catcher In The Rye” or “This Boy’s Life” or even “Please Kill Me” by any stretch of the imagination. It’s really more of the same rock and roll mythology furthered by books like “Our Band Could Be Your Life,” or “Thunder Of The Gods,” or “No One Gets Out Of Here Alive,” or, heck, even “Many Years From Now.” I mean, for that matter, throw in every Rolling Stone and Spin article ever, and at least fifty percent of the shows on MTV and VH1. You know thre drill: shooting heroine, living on Ramen Pride Noodles, driving a beat up Econoline van for 365,000 miles.
The best part of the book, though, is that every time I read a chapter, I wanted to pick up my guitar and write a song. And I’ve come close. Last night, I even got so far as booting up Pro Tools. But I got distracted riffling through previous recordings. I even found a few surprisingly good songs that I’d long since forgot about. Like “Falling Backwards.” Check out the “woo woos” in the last two choruses. Pretty awesome.
Ultimatey, though, every chord sounded the same, and every idea sounded recycled. So I put down my guitar and started sifting through some four thousand of my images on iPhoto. I was running out of space on my hard drive, and the application was absolutely crawling, so I had to thin out the weaker pics. But what really flabbergasted me was how much I did last year. The pics go like this: Eluthera, Sundance, The Grammy Awards, Naples, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Sonoma, Nantucket, The Heartland Express Tour, Video Music Awards in Miami, back to Nantucket, Nashville, NYC Marathon … you get the idea. And somewhere in between all that, I played twenty-five shows, and released three CDs.
But what have I done lately?
Of course, that was the plan. At the end of last year, lying in bed sick, exhausted and depressed, I pledged to try something different in 2006. I thought I’d settle down a little bit, do a little less, breath a little more. I thought I’d see what it felt like to just go to work, go out to dinner, and do things like other people do. Now that I’m half way through that experiment, I can tell you what it feels like: it feels like I’m not doing anything. It feels like I’m not moving, not growing, not getting braver or smarter or deeper. It just feels like I’m getting older, and more boring.
Nadas front man Mike Butterworth called yesterday. Towncrier is finishing up its new LP with (Nadas bassist) Jon Locker, and needs a new bio. My first inclination was to do it myself, but with the documentary, the vacation, and the long, slow build to the frenzy of The MTV Video Music Awards, I thought better of it. But talking with him made me a little sad. I wanna be writing songs. I wanna be making records. I wanna be playing shows.
Not that I’d be any happier.