I have a cold. There are more important things happening in the world, but here the headlines have been about the war going on in my sinuses. But the worst is past. I cannot talk today – I squeak like a kid whose voice is changing and really cannot talk. Couldn’t yesterday either. But then my head was stuffier, and now my voice is squeakier. I’m staying home so I don’t make other people sick. And I’m exhausted. I drank two strong cups of coffee this morning, then I just sat there. Hmmm. When I have no energy, it means I’m ill. I am glad this is Saturday, and New Year’s Eve is Tuesday! So much can happen to a non-serious illness in four days (like it can Die). I look forward to the return to ground level.
Projects planned: new band, friendships, hangouts, new radio show, new TV show, new schedule. The old things? Still all over the place! Anything that is not determinedly and consciously New remains (out of habit) Old. When you’ve done something a thousand times, it becomes a habit. I’m set in my ways, my days resemble each other, my problems rarely get worse or better. (Okay, let me qualify that: arthritis gets worse, colds get better.) I keep learning as my body keeps wearing out. Now for a girlfriend, and possibly a new job! I’ll tell you about those when they happen.
[I would like to be young again. “Waiter! Waiter!” Aw, he can’t hear me.]
I am comforted by the thought of how baffled and scared most teenagers are inside. When I meet teenagers I want to tell them: “The things you worry most about every day are going to turn out to be absolutely nothing. You will be amazed. What you should worry about has nothing to do with any of those things. And brush your teeth - you’ll be glad you did.”
I did not take good care of my teeth. I don’t seem to have taken care of my hearing, either…I have two modern hearing aids which enable me to sing better than I have for decades. I just hadn’t known what everyone else was hearing. I now know that my guitar was strident, and my voice harsh, because I was adjusting it all for my bad ears. I didn’t find this out for a long time. Now I can distinguish between a careless note and a sweet note. I can play with them, work with them; my voice has become an actual instrument. I took a half dozen voice lessons, but they were hard to absorb and actualize until I could truly hear myself. ($1300 in each ear, and if I had not become poor enough to qualify for full medical coverage, and if my hearing had not been so bad that I qualified for hearing aids, I could never have afforded these. What a world.)
I had what I call a “singer-songwriter” voice. It can have a lot of character, is often a wonderful instrument for heartfelt sentiment, and serves to put the song over, but it clearly sounds different than the voice of someone who would win that job if auditions had been held.
When a group has a singer who is as good as the guitar player or the drummer, it’s great – often these are people who called, auditioned, showed up and turned out to be the best. That’s a Singer. I can tell when a singer wrote his song, because no one would hire a singer with such an idiosyncratic voice. There are many bands with singer-songwriter voices.
Exceptions: The Doors, U2, Pearl Jam, Queen, The Beatles – there certainly are great singers in bands singing their own songs. But most bands have the writer as the singer, and it shows. Why not? Extreme example – Dylan.
Looking forward to starting the new TV program, but I need to get someone else involved. Interviews, even just conceptual art will help (someone walking back and forth behind me as I talk?) and it’s going to be great. Not just me in a studio this time. Guests are coming.
Also looking forward to my new radio show on The Radiator, transmitting from a studio only three blocks from here. I'll play songs most people have never heard: songs that influenced the music they have heard. Roots. Importantly, I want to play what they might never hear elsewhere. Name of show…”Before That”, “Long Ago” “Outsider Pop”, “Rock History, Early”, “It's All Good”? Must think.
Ready for New Year’s Eve! It’s predicted to be about zero degrees, so I may have quite a bunch of people up here huddling from the cold and watching the fireworks out my window with coffee, tea, cocoa, or whatever drinks they are bringing. Can’t afford a bar this year – my apologies.
I hope you all had a great holiday, and have a happy new year too! If you’re nearby, I look forward to seeing you. There is music in town before and after (3:00 PM at Red Square - Steph Pappas will be there weaving her spell, and at 9:00 PM I believe Brett Hughes will preside over honky-tonk at Radio Bean.) The whole night is a gigantic sandwich. Also an epic arctic expedition…be well! Stay warm!
I have been re-reading a William Kotzwinkle book I loved when I read it decades ago – a dreamlike detective novel entitled “Fata Morgana”. I have a book about Jewish Resistance in WWII, a history of Chess Records, and a history of the Procul Harum, one of my favorite bands ever.
Happy year’s end.