Good News, Bad News

That should probably be the name of a really great song — "Good News, Bad News" — but I haven't written it. Sorry. Perhaps I will someday, but it's too soon. 

I didn't plan for any of this.

I can't take credit for this website existing in its current form. And I certainly didn't plan on writing any blog posts. Two weeks ago there was little here. It was a relic of the past. Yet today I'm looking at a string of posts that I couldn't have imagined in before. I'll try to keep it up this music-related, but no promises. But I'm definitely going to keep it up.


Good news: I'm going to keep posting music.

Bad news: I'm not posting any today.

I had hoped to announce an exciting collaboration. That isn't happening now. But this works for me, so I'm going to keep doing it, posting more music here on my own as often as I can find something to play, if not original, then at least in an original way.

"Why don't you post songs to YouTube?"

Someone recently asked me that, and I think my knee-jerk response was something lame along the lines of, "Because I'm not a photographer; I make music". But I couldn't stop thinking about the question. And of course there was no good reason! Turns out, recording quick videos on my iPhone and posting them is actually pretty easy. They don't look or sound great, but I think that for a "live performance" it isn't bad — provided the internet works long enough for me to upload. 

Effing internet.

I think it's fixed now, but I have literally chopped trees to make that happen. It sounds like I need to burn wood for electricity or something, but really the line just needed to be repaired by the cable company...and the trees were supposedly in the way. (Seems like it's still not working...)

Throw out what doesn't work and keep the rest.

This has been my week: trying to clear out debris and find a path forward, both in terms of the Internet-obstacle tree, and for myself personally.

I used to have this idea that my music always had to happen spontaneously. Organically. Like, I had to just have some lightning bolt of inspiration and the music would come to me. And that's worked a surprising number of times throughout the years. Now, "often" is not the same as "a surprising number of times", but I never really questioned this before. After all, does it matter?

I'm not sure it really matters for the most part, except that making these videos is incredibly rewarding. It forces me to focus on learning the song in a way that just practicing doesn't. And that applies to my own music as well, not just covers. Most of my own music is impossible to play solo, but even in those cases where it's possible, I simply don't know how to play them. Lighting bolt, done — remember?

But I guess in order for even those spontaneous "lightning bolt" songs to happen, I need to at least play guitar. I didn't for a long time. But this past year I've practiced every day. I don't even recall why, only that it seemed important. When I think about what I enjoy most, it's music; and more than listening, I enjoy playing; and playing is a lot less fun when my I'm bad at it and my fingers hurt; so I guess that's why I play every day now.

Where did this come from?

I met someone amazing. I learned that I wasn't alone, either in my quest for knowledge, my passion for making weird music, or my search for a place to call home. Also, I'm used to being the one who's right, not so much because I'm special, but because I take the time to consider things where others don't. So maybe that makes me not so much "right" as just "less wrong" by default.

But I met someone who changed all that. Having someone else be right is always refreshing, because me being right often means something terrible. People take it personally. But having someone in my life who can challenge so many of my conclusions and assumptions has been incredibly valuable and stimulating.

Where is this going?

But that won't be possible for the foreseeable future — and maybe forever. And maybe "maybe" is me in denial. It was such a short time, but I've learned so much. I may not have the benefit of their insight anymore, but I've taken it to heart, as I'll need to do the same for myself going forward. It's something I've always been aware of, but I've often found it easy to ignore my own voice. Now there's another I can harmonize with: constructive criticism, logic, asking the tough questions.

I should be devastated by this loss. I'm probably just in shock. Or maybe I can honestly keep up this irrational optimism and cling to hope indefinitely. Only time will tell. But I honesty feel more at peace having loved and lost simply because now I know the truth. Going through life wondering "what if?" seems wretched:

What if I'm really alone?

What if I never share my feelings?

What if I never hear from them again?

Well, there's probably a lot more, but at least now I don't have to struggle with those questions or wonder now. And that's an incredible gift.

Does it matter?

I feel sad and lonely, but not depressed or alone. That's really cutting it close as far as distinctions go, but it is what it is. I feel at peace and determined that tomorrow will be a better day. After all, I know there's someone out there who understands and cares for me. Right? Maybe not. Maybe this brilliant person has expertly executed the perfect "It's not you, it's me" to leave me unbroken. Either way, it was handled flawlessly, and I'm incredibly lucky and grateful for that. Not everyone gets that luxury. I feel better now, having been let down gently, than I did a week ago when I liked my chances. There is no argument I can make. Amazing. So I just accept it.

What does it all mean?

Perhaps that is the mark of a person who has experienced true loss: sensitivity to the feelings of others. But the flip side is that this has only caused my love, respect, and admiration for them to grow. I'm hoping that's part of the plan too, but I'm not counting on it. I think that perhaps the reason I feel okay is that I never expected this person to exist in the first place. They do, of course. I think... But maybe there will always be that doubt, a brief flash in the mind in the checkout line, like a memory of something long-forgotten: "Was it only a dream?" But on the rare occasion that I wake up from a good dream, it tends to follow me the rest of the day, never too far from my thoughts, if only as a warm feeling. Maybe this memory can be dream I carry with me for the rest of my life. It's something I'll aspire to.

Can we get back to music? It's actually ALL about music. Always has been. I've always loved music, but in the past I've thought of it as a sort of a "hobby". I never understood just how integral it was to who I am, and, by extension, how important it was for me to find someone else to match that. Now I have found that person, but of course that hasn't worked out the way I wish it had.

We'd planned on making music together, and as a first step, I arranged one of their songs. Even now I can pick out so many things I'd like to do differently there, but at the same time it's the single thing I am most proud of that I've done musically. To be fair, it's a heartbreakingly beautiful song in its original form. I can't take credit for that. But I like to think I was able to contribute something to it.

I want to share it with the world — post it on the Internet, play it in the streets — and I could probably be forgiven for doing so. But I can't. It's not mine. Maybe it could be ours together, but first and foremost, it belongs to them. And I feel like it would be a betrayal to do anything with it in their absence. If I had been the one to end a friendship, it would feel really weird to have the other people going around playing my music for people. Really, really weird.

So now that I have both inspiration and an outlet, nothing can stop me. I know what I'm capable of. I know what I want, and I'm willing to work for it. I'm talking about music. What did you think I was talking about? Like I said, it's all connected.

My original argument was "soul" versus "technique". How can you really get to the core of the music if there's all this stuff in the way? Practice, of course. It certainly helps to be able to play the thing I'm trying to play. I'll never be a guitar/voice god, but I can be better than what I am today.

But that goes back to relationships, and I think it applies whether you're talking about people or notes. And if I've learned anything at all, it's that while raw emotion can certainly help, I think that distance and perspective allow for a clarity and objectivity that makes for better music. That is to say, it's easier for me to write about this now, rather that trying to make it into a mediocre song. Plenty of time for that later.

"You can't always get what you want, and that is beautiful."

Someone once ripped off a Rolling Stones quote and tacked that extra bit on the end there to solidify a less-deftly-handled split years ago. They would have felt differently on the receiving end, I assure you. Ironic, but still a great quote.

I may never get what I want, but that won't stop me from enthusiastically (idiotically?) chasing my dreams. It's the journey that matters, not the destination.

Peace, Love, and Pizza,