According to the Mayo Clinic, more than 3 million Americans suffer from seasonal affect disorder (SAD, obvs) a mood disorder characterized by depression that typically occurs in climates where there is less sunlight at certain times of the year.
By this weekend, nearly ¾ of the calendar day will be cast in darkness. That dramatic decrease in sunlight lessens Serotonin and Melatonin, triggering depression, disrupting sleep and mood.
What’s bad for the psyche, though, can be great for art. There are playlists upon playlists of songs inspired by these, the shortest and darkest of days of the year.
“California Dreamin’,” “River,” “Hazy Shade of Winter, “A Long December.”
Toss in the global pandemic, the economic crisis, the peaceful democratic transition — and the sale of Bob Dylan’s catalogue — and there’s EXTRA of reason to be SAD. Or, alternatively, an extra reason to celebrate the passing of the darkness.
Diwali, Hanukah and Christmas are all festivals of light after all. Rejoice! They remind us: The Dark Night of the Soul will end!
For years, the dark, holiday season felt like it would never end. You know the story: divorce, split custody, airplanes, blah blah blah. You’re 50, bro; we get it.
So at some point in the late 90s, I leaned into it. I decided to think of the Solstice as something to look forward to. And I started marking it as a milestone with the only tool in my kit: the rock show.
Before long, my friends and I were five albums into our annual holiday fundraiser, “A Holliday Benefit.” Remember “A Holliday Benefit”? Together with Chris Abad & Co., we recorded dozens of holiday classics, performed a few dozen holiday rock shows, and raised a few thousand dollars for 826NYC.
Year after year after year, music provides the light.
So let’s do it again, Pandemic Style!
Join me Monday, December 21 at 8p for our first ever Friends & Neighbors Holiday Benefit.
I’ve drafted the set list and I gotta say it’s gonna be really cool: I’m gonna talk about the year, and the songs that pulled me through.
There will be holiday tunes, like “This Christmastime” — which Chris Abad, Bryan Dunn, and I wrote and recorded — with a tip of the cap to O’Henry — for a Holiday Benefit Volume 6. Or 7. One or the other.
And I remembered a song I wrote on the solstice nearly thirty years ago, and released on my 1994 (yes, 1994) release, “Bloom.” Now, that record has been deleted from the internets. So I found a CD, and relearned it. It’s like someone else wrote it with this very moment in mind:
They knew it wouldn’t last a lifetime
The day that slept for weeks and months on end
Still holds up.
So join me LIVE on Facebook for a solo Solstice show next Monday, December 21 — the winter solstice — at 8pm Eastern.
And let the sunshine in.