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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…

no change


The city exhales, and hangs at that empty moment without air. There are still Christmas songs playing from brittle speakers, blaring English words to people that do not speak it. At the shopping centers, there are crowds of people sucking on cigarettes in the cold air. They will shuffle back inside, wandering the halls, taking pictures of each other in stiff poses in front of miniature waterfalls. Colored lights are blinking through the water, an endless loop of music and spray.

It all feels completely forced, the stale music, the expressionless faces, the slow glide of the wet mop, the hushed rustle of the broom. I wonder if the cleaning people know that the birds are chirping outside, that the sun is coming out and the last patches of dirty snow are turning into mud puddles.

I buy what we need and leave.

Outside, the sun has pressed though the clouds even more. The streets gleam, wet and blue in the afternoon. The buildings seem smaller and farther away at the same time, as if they have all shrunk twenty feet. But I have not changed at all.



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