Monday, May 09, 2005

Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams

What do you do when everything you care about turns to shit, when people betray you and you feel like there is nothing left? You go back to the things that helped you when you were a kid—in this case, the music.

So tonight I am listening to “Can’t Hardly Wait” and the connection is immediate and needs no explanation. The demons in Westerberg’s head drive him to push people away; music is the only thing he knows. So he goes out on the road because he is an artist and a performer and that is what he does. And it is paradoxically the most lonely and most accepting place he has ever known. People who, like him, live for the music are in front of him every night and they understand. They don’t want anything from him except for him to get up and play those songs and take them to another place for a while.
So he goes there with them, and he forgets the chaos inside his own head for a while. But then he gets on the tour bus, and the roads all look the same, and the lights flash by, and he has never been more alone.

I go on the road a lot following bands around—it is part of what I do as a writer. And a lot of it is for business reasons, granted. It is about schmoozing, making contacts, after show parties with the band.

But I would be lying to myself if I said it was purely for business reasons that I am ready, willing and able to pick up and fly, drive or crawl at a moment’s notice if there is a band I want to see. For me, it is also admittedly about running from the demons in your mind, about getting that fix once again that for an hour or two takes you away from whatever ails you. Sometimes what ails you is fixable, sometimes not. But you have to work on it and recognize it and deal with it, and I am, despite all appearances, trying my damndest. Because it is far too easy to just run around on the road with those cute boys with guitars and not deal. That is indeed a large part of why the job of being a musician is so attractive—someone else is always there to pick up the pieces.

In Paul’s case, he fights the demons every day, but he is still here, and he is still the Talented Mr. Westerberg. It may not come out as often, maybe he lets the hard work of songwriting and performing slide more than he used to—but there he is out there working it out, and we are out there with him and waiting for the magic which, while rarer than it used to be, still happens on occasion.

As for me, well, I continue to work on my multitude of issues, but I will also keep on listening to the music and following wherever it takes me. And I will not apologize for it. Because the only person who knows what I need, what is going on inside my head is me, and only I can judge what is right and proper to do. So the music will continue to take me on that mystery ride, and I am happy to follow. I hope someday that someone will be able to join me there, but it is entirely possible that that is not the case. I have been and will continue to deal with that, too.

For now I, like Paul, am high and lonesome, holding on to the white lines on the highway by just a thread. Until that song comes on the radio…

“Lights that flash in the evenin’/through a hole in the drape
I’ll be home when I’m sleepin’/I can’t hardly wait.”

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