Wednesday, April 18, 2007

awaking in neighboring hospital beds

Ashley unloaded her iPod onto my computer last night at Matt’s apartment while he and Will and Stefan and Richard played a drunken game of Halo. Machine guns and grenade blasts from surround-sound speakers corrupted the air around us. Every minute or two, Matt would be on his feet yelling, twisting the game controller, berating the screen, released tonight from the ever-focused studio hermit he is becoming. I kept holding my laptop up to Ashley’s ear to show her one song or another, but she would just squeeze her lips and eyes together trying to make some sense of the sound. I wondered how many times my record had been dumped onto someone’s computer, how many times it had been a fresh addition to someone iPod, a new curiosity to be explored. Honestly, I hope it’s a good number, I hope people are out there trading Charmingly Awkward for the new Modest Mouse, or that old Weezer album that got scratched up over time. I hope people are feeling inspired enough to share it around.

We were the last to arrive at the apartment. Before the show was over we bailed and got a late dinner at Café 101. The last time I had been there was for breakfast just after we had signed our record deal. Our A&R woman handed a document to me over the table outlining the artwork changes for our album. I laughed last night as I thought about how naïve I was to throw a fit there about the Parental Advisory sticker, the FBI warning. I marched across the street, into the Capitol art department and stood over the shoulder of the sympathetic designer. He assured me that he knew how much those stamps suck, but he complimented my art, said its rare that an act can keep their original artwork with only the few indisputable changes. I didn’t realize then, sitting at breakfast with the two executives that signed us into this dream, how lucky I was, what a fortunate position I was in.

All those people are gone now. Most of the bands are gone too. Its just Ashley and I. From beneath the rubble of this crumbling industry, we somehow were rescued, awoken from a coma in neighboring hospital beds, unsure of who exactly wrestled us away from death – and why. I’m so thankful, but I feel the guilt and confusion of the survivor. I have no closure. My baby is lost and I don’t know if she is dead or alive.

The show at the Troubadour last night was one of my favorites recently. Most of the shows with Rocky Votolato have brought us extremely receptive crowds, hushed and respectful during the delicate parts, nodding along with the upbeat parts. His fans are like our fans – kind. The sound on stage at the troubadour is amazing, my vocals are crisp, I can hear the tone of my guitar, Joey’s drums sound like a studio recording. The audience was there with me, on my side, allowing each note to pass through them, processing every word. I appreciate it so much, it just makes me want to give and give and give. Behind them, I could see the bartenders leaning in close receiving whispered drink orders.

Now I’m listening to one of the Neko Case albums that she gave me last night, passing by the place I went to high school, that dejected cross atop the aging brown rooftop, pointing out above the trees from highway 580. That sight pulls the humility down over my eyes. The world was so much smaller then, the catalogue of things I had seen, places I’d been, was so thin. That was back when a mere teacher or assistant principle or more popular student seemed to command some sort of power – back when a solitary girl could hold me by puppet strings, could rise up as more special, more beautiful and potent than the rest. I refuse to go back to a world that cant be traversed, a life that cant be bent and twisted and remolded. I refuse to believe once again that there is any rhyme or reason.

My record label can merge and layoff as much as its shareholders demand, random girls from random bars in random towns can choose not to call, bands can kick us off of their tours - and I can take a step back from it all with a smug smile, knowing that despite the steel toed boot of sentiment kicking in my ribs, despite the sleeplessness, the knotted back, I am sucking every drop of sweetness from the fruit of life (while it is ripe yet!) - and when I go, I’m going with a belly full of wine, a heart full of song, and a big “Fuck You” on my tongue.