March 30, 2010

My Life, Through Music, Completely Enveloped in Love

Hi Ann,

I have some more time to write today.  What a crazy busy weekend I had, playing 5 shows in 4 days, and going from Maine to Northwestern PA and back to NYC.

Have you ever been to Portland? It's one of my favorite places to visit.  It still has the character of an old port city, with the cobblestone streets and little corner pubs.  A bit of culture has been injected into it all, and there's great restaurants, live music venues, and a thriving arts scene.  There's a fogginess to the city that reminds me of England, and I think that's what so alluding. 

I have been fighting an inner ear infection for about a week now, which has been plugged since I woke up one morning.  It is no longer painful, as I've been taking antibiotics, but it is frustrating.  The worst was on Saturday, when it seemed to spread to my throat, and every time I swallowed, it felt like I was being stabbed.  Luckily, it was gone by Sunday, when I had two shows to do.

It's funny, it seemed the more I sang, the less my throat hurt!  I was worried that my first-ever performance at The Living Room would be overshadowed by my being sick, but it ended up going amazingly well.  One of my favorite songwriters here in New York, a group called Barnaby Bright (I played you their songs at my apartment), were in attendance, and had yet to hear me play.  They had really nice things to say after the performance, and kept going on about it, so I felt really great. 

On top of that, I was able to book 4 gigs in the Greenwich Village area for me to play my original music, at Caffe Vivaldi and Think Coffee, two places I love to play at, and are all ages.  I'll let you know the dates, and think it would be great if Julia were available any of the days to play a set before or after me.

My music seems to be getting more and more simple.  I find I enjoy playing the contemplative stuff, the more gut-wrenching, to small rooms that pay attention.  I love to sing, and to sing out, but to me, I go to this place unlike no other when I do something very reserved - I think people can see a certain vulnerability in what I'm doing, and they can relate.

I had an idea to do a "Portrait Show" - where I play the songs in a way that chronicles who I am as a person, along with select readings from my blog/writings.  I know that not too many people would be interested in such a thing, but I want to start telling my stories more.  I think if I work hard on it, it can be more universal and less "selfish."  But unlike most of the writers I know, I live or have lived what I write, and there is no division over who I am and what I sing about.  So, my thought is, if I can show this union in a more concrete way, it could bring people in that much more.  Just an idea.

Also, I think I have a new Takeaway.

"It was Sunday morning, and I was driving south from Lewisburg, PA to Harrisburg to meet my two friends, now married, for breakfast.  The previous day had been full of driving and getting stuck in traffic, over 3 hours of traffic, and my patience had run thin before my show at Bucknell University in Lewisburg. I was getting sick, my ear plugged, and I was coming down with an intensely sore throat.  The show was successful in that I played well, and those students who were there enjoyed themselves, but it was not an overly attentive audience or a large one to boot.  I had sang for the first time in a long time so aerobically that my lungs ached, a feeling I missed and recognized as a full effort. 

The road that I was driving on snaked along the Susquehanna River, and the traffic was almost non-existent.  I had driven the road in the pitch dark the night before, racing to make my show on-time, in the rain.  Sunday was brilliantly sunny, with only feathery clouds making up the sky otherwise very blue.  Pennsylvania still had not awoken for the Spring yet, and trees sat bare along the river, waiting for the warmer weather.  It was unseasonably cool, just 35 degrees or so.

The night before I met my friends for dinner before my show, driving the extra 90 miles or so to get to see them.  It was a reunion of sorts, but also a lot of holding, hugging, and making plans.  My friend and I would begin to do some business together playing weddings and functions, as he is a talented audio engineer, and more importantly, family to me.  He and his wife would make time to visit me in Brooklyn, and he and I would make time to share more golf outings.  It became very urgent all of a sudden to remain in very close contact.  We both had very heavy minds lately, well, the three of us.

My friend's father, a man I've known almost my entire life, was and still is terribly sick.  His body is shutting down after a lifelong bout of diabetes, and was now in intensive care and a medically-induced coma.  A young man still, he was a tremendously successful in the medical field, and ran the operating rooms at two hospitals in Maryland.  He was very proud; since his kidneys shut down, and he had a pacemaker inserted in his heart, (thus forcing him to go on disability) he was enormously upset and not taking it well at all.

My other friend had lost her father a few years ago very suddenly.  One of 5 children, she received a call one day that he had died while running outside in the oppressive heat at a track near her childhood house outside of Buffalo.  He, too, was very young, full of life, and a remarkable man.  His loss, to this day, stings even me.  She and her husband have forever bonded over losing him, and you could tell how the talk of my friend's father's illness has brought up those feelings.

Well, there were the three of us at dinner, laughing, swapping stories, making plans, watching hockey, and all the while taking moments to update each other on the seriousness that seems to swirl around us.

Back to my drive.  As the river snaked with the road, I looked to my right for the first time, and saw the might of the Susquehanna, and the life it gives to everything that touches it.  I saw the sun hitting me, on the chilly day, and somehow making me very warm as I drove.  I could not feel the car, now in cruise control, as it made nary a bump as I turned through each S-curve.  I got a text message from my friend asking where I was, and said I would be there in 15 minutes.

I arrived at their house, to find my friend with his coat on, and his wife still in her pajamas.  I asked where we were going for breakfast, and he told me he had to leave to do a sound engineering show for a band concert, but he had waited to leave because he wanted to say goodbye to me first.  He gave me a big hug and said, 'I love ya, buddy, it was great seeing you!' I responded 'I love you, too, man, have a safe trip and a good show.'  He then left.  I went to breakfast with his wife, and we spent time together for the first time since college, when she and I were incredibly close.  We talked about my friend's Dad, my parents, her Father, and about me someday finding a woman.  Everything she said and did was with love.  Same for her husband, my other friend.  Upon my leaving to drive back to Brooklyn, she too gave me a big hug and said 'I love you very much, I'm so glad you visited us.'  It was one of the most beautiful moments ever in my life."

That's my Takeaway now.  My life, through music, completely and totally enveloped in love.  I am not ashamed to tell my friends, male or female, that I love them now.  And I mean it, deeply, and have done so numerous times since then. 

I am so moved by what we as people can do to each other, lifting one another up, sharing small moments and making relationships that last forever.  Moved at how an hour out of my way driving will never be a burden if it is for the closeness of friendship and family; how you take people with you for the journey, even if they live hours away.

Well, I had better let you go.  Thanks for letting me write that out, it was a pretty cathartic thing for me today.  Hope you are doing well.


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