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the long way around

The living room is a forest of mic stands and cables. A cup of coffee, a large glass of water and a shallow shot of whiskey sit on the tiny white table. I alternate between them, making sure the guitar is in tune, trying to understand if the chair will creak when I lean my head back on the second chorus.  There is a hush in the room. I can hear my own heartbeat. The lyrics are printed out on a fresh piece of paper, large and thick so I can read them easily even though I sing with my eyes closed and will surely forget a handful of words no matter what I do.

The guitar sounds dry, perfect - even honest. I can play a simple D chord with a long strum, or the side of my thumb and it sounds so different. I record a few takes, barefoot in the bright room. I am going too fast in some parts, and my fingers are already sore from the chord changes.

And then all at once, I am thinking of a show I played in an old factory in Brooklyn, way back when I had just started writing songs almost twenty y…

"None of us are Free"

That's Solomon Burke, singing in the dark in my studio.
And then he says "One of us are chained."

If one of us is chained, none of us are free.

It's more than a provocative thing to crow about, on a darker blues compilation I recently discovered. The world is getting very small. I share thoughts, perceptions and jokes with people thousands of miles away. My night is their morning, and we laugh as one. There is something really comforting about this. I may walk alone, pulling my scarf close to my throat on strange sidewalks - - but I am surrounded by people that care.

I recently threw a golden ruble into the street. It had rested in my left pocket for almost eight years. It was supposed to bring me luck, and I protected it religiously. I did let anyone touch it. In truth, I do not think it brought me anything but heartache and false hope. One night a few weeks ago, I passed some street musicians and randomly decided to give them a handful of the lucky money from my left pocket. The sheepish, mumbling fellows dropped their guitars and chased me down the passageway to thank me and shake my hand. I suddenly realized the golden ruble was one of the coins I had given them. In a heartbeat, they had inspected the change and realized I had given them some gold. The dark haired one quickly gave me the coin back - -he knew it was a mistake. Of course, I felt relieved and went on my way.

It was later that very same night that I realized the coin was desperately trying to get away from me, and I had screwed up a beautiful escape plan. I promptly went out on the balcony and threw the golden coin into the darkness. It fell on some grass, or a clump of dirt. Not as poetic, but hopefully free.

Maybe someone will find it in the spring, I thought.

Comments

brenda said…
yeah, like me, maybe. Find it in the spring, i mean. i would so love to be there, m. i miss it. but you, you are my lifeline. Even in the very dark times.

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