I sang rock’n’roll.
I sang pretty, I sang rough. I didn’t always hit the notes, but I always sold them.
I got full of myself. When I screwed up, it was always because I got outside of it, looked at myself bein’ cool, and started to think how cool I was.
Little stands in the corners of smoky rooms. Outdoor festivals. Parties in Malibu backyards. Driving for days to get to the next dive, or crammed twelve across for 18 hours in an Air Siam L1011. Don’t ask.
The funny thing is, I plowed through it all, showing off, trying to entertain, drinking heavily, making friends, making money, getting ripped off, getting ripped, and laughing at it all. But now there are some songs – a lot of songs, actually – that I can’t sing. After more shows than I can remember, putting it out for people, I find now that I often can’t even sing one good song to myself. I choke up, my voice breaks and I have to stop.
I am my main audience these days, and not a critical one. I always give myself the benefit of the doubt when I’m serenading myself. I can transpose verses, stop in the middle, change keys and start over, and there’s no pressure, it’s all good. I love to listen to me, and I love to play for me.
When I sang for crowds, maybe part of what I was doing was channeling. I was singing and playing great music by the great writers*, and the meaning, the beauty, the pain, the sorrow, the loss, the joy of that music flowed through me and out into those rooms, flooding them with those emotions, that people soaked up and used to their own ends. Dance, laugh, cry, think, hustle, no two alike, but everybody sharing in the flow, making what they could from it. I think there is a lot of power out there, and when you conjure it on a bandstand it needs a place to go.
When I play my guitar these days and sing alone, though, there’s no place for it to go. All that power, all that meaning, all that beauty, all that pain, sorrow, loss and joy strike my soul and lodge in my heart, swelling it to the breaking point. I don’t stop because I think I should, but because I physically cannot go on.
So I listen to the radio instead.
* For the record, I’ve worked with some great songwriters.
9 Replies to “I Will Never, Ever Grow So Old Again”
Yeah, how’d it get like that, you wonder. It was always that way a little, probably. Wish I could dish you up a helping of ice cream, but it tends to melt between here and there…
Wow. I liked this. I like your writing sytyle. I was right there with you. Keep up the great work, I’ll certainly return and read more!
sounds like you should play more for other people again 🙂
Ron – Yes, I do wonder. Maybe I wasn’t paying as much attention as I thought I was in the old days, or I might have choked then, too.
Ra – Glad you like it – but it’s not “work.”
L – You’ll be the first, if I start again.
Damn. I don’t know if you intended this post to be sad, but that’s certainly the way I read it.
D’Cat – Don’t mean to bring anybody down, least of all you. Someone said the unexamined life is not worth living. I’m just trying to examine mine, since I’ve lived it.
Sounds to me like you have seen both sides of the coin and THAT is a rarity. You have a gift of creativity, be it in song or writing or any of the other items hidden away. Just keep it up.
Jack – Can’t stop the endless boogie.
Music is too big to take hold of; instead, it takes hold of you. Maybe instead of saying, “He’s got music in his soul” we should say, “Music owns his soul”.
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