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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…

the runaway


A window must have cracked open, and the room is now freezing. In the darkness, I nudge it closed and try to find sleep. All at once, I see myself on the floor of a room. It was in January, my last year of college. Everyone was still gone on winter break. I had taken the bus a week early, freeing myself from the small town where my parents lived. They were in the middle of a messy divorce, and I was no help to either of them. The school was half-open, and there were just a few security guards. I would slip inside the film department before five, and hunker down in one of our classrooms. No one could imagine me here, but without windows I had no idea what time it was. I did not wear a watch in those days, foolish as it sounds. My jacket pulled tight, my cheek against the mud-crusted carpet I slept there for seven nights. It was a little like camping I told myself, roughing it by some wild stretch of the imagination.

Here in Moscow, in the middle of the night this somehow comes back to me. The cold air, the smell of desperation, the silence.

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