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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…

she knows



The call comes. I ask E if she is interested. She shrugs her shoulders. It has been about a year since she did a voice record. I can't tell if she is removed or wants to do it. I ask her directly, yes or no and no is ok. She wants to. I think of parents I have seen, ones that push things on their children, tricking them, guilting them. I want her to chose this, or to have a normal Friday afternoon. We could just go for sushi and look out the big windows at the people on the street below. 

I take her from school the next day. We order a taxi, siting hot in the back seat in traffic. The weather changes so quickly here. We go upstairs, and wait for half an hour but I remind her how important it is to be on time. She nods, she knows. 

The script is long with plenty of alternates. I hear her voice through the speakers, so serious these days, and she needs to slow down. The directions come, little fixes to the text get made. She sits, a little slumped, pencil in hand. I hear her struggling in a good way, searching, finding the right balance, finding the way to go up at the end of a sentence even though the urge is to go down. Man, she sounds too much like me, I tell myself. This is surreal. Well, she has been on this side of the glass for so many of my voice records, am I really surprised? 

She needs to sound younger, more innocent, more naive. I tell her to shrug her shoulders a little, to feel the curl of the corners of her mouth go up and how that changes the sound. People always want it to sound sweeter, happier. 

And all at once we are done and people are shaking hands and bowing heads and little avalanches of thank yous are raining on us. I pull her close, tell her quietly that she did good, that it was a tough script and a long one. Her chin pinches up, her eyes as big as saucers. 

She knows. 




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