Once In A Lifetime

When my pal, Rockwood Music Hall Talent Buyer, Matt Currie, asked if I’d like to perform one of their Facebook Lives, I jumped at the chance.

The date was more auspicious than I’d first thought, roughly coinciding with my first Rockwood shows in 2005. Which was also, far more importantly, the night I met my wife. So I decided to revisit those songs and somehow measure the time in-between.

It seems rare to be able to pinpoint an instant when the entire course of your life changed. Looking back now, there’s a straight line from that long winter — those songs, those worries, that work — to today. There, the fractures began to heal. There, the frenzy began to slow. There, we began to build our own home.

At the time, though, I was living at 80th & Columbus at the time, in a 6th-floor, walk-up duplex made for a bachelor. Downstairs was a dark box with high ceilings and shag carpet. Upstairs was a glass box flooded by sunshine and buffeted by winds straight off the Hudson.

I was ten years into New York City then. It felt like home. I was playing rock shows in Manhattan, and country shows in Brooklyn. I’d climbed a few rungs at MTV, and run a few marathons. Christofer and I were beginning to make “Mister Rogers & Me” (though had no idea how it would turn out).

I was approaching 35, unwed — but chronically monogamous. The prior year had seen a well (though fortunately not comprehensively) documented train wreck in which I’d blundered through numerous relationships with little regard for much more than how it felt to be liked.

A number of strong signals (The New York Times was one) told me that it wasn’t working. So I pledged myself a period of romantic asceticism. I swore off dating for six months. I dug into songwriting, recording and performing.

The Manhattan music scene was fairly hostile then. I was still cattle calling for bored sound guys, surly owners and a fist full of drink tickets. Ken Rockwood was planting the seeds of what has become a long, luminous legacy of artist and audience-first venues. Rockwood Music Hall came to feel like a clubhouse. Ken knew your name. He asked about your life. It was the only venue I frequented when I wasn’t playing.

And then, Mary Keller walked in and introduced herself. The rest is history. Living history.

Because sixteen-years-later, as David Byrne suggests, I find myself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife. Sixteen-years-later, I do the dishes, take out the trash, play board games. Sixteen-years-later, I find myself noticing the sunrise and sunset, bird watching.

It’s another world, one I could scarcely have imagined then. But I know exactly how I got here; the road is paved with songs.