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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 one wears white


Dick Rogers leaned in, right up to my face.
"No one wears white." He said, the words separated by angry pauses.
I swallowed, embarrassed.
"No one." He added, his hand waving around with a flourish.
My cheeks ran red. I could feel every hair, right up to the top of my head. I suddenly felt like I smelled terrible. My stomach made an empty noise. A pen hung limp from my hand, then rested on my notebook.

Later in the hallway, he smiled at me. A tiny encouragement.

The film was about my father and my brother, as much as myself. There were heartfelt sessions in front of the camera, the film whirring slowly, the microphone perched just out of frame. There were trips home to shoot my father ice fishing, or painting, or just having a coffee alone at the big kitchen table. Then my brother, doing chin-up after chin-up. The story was wandering, turning blind corners.

In the end, I animated a story that my brother mentioned. A parable.
A deer and a lamb are in a field, eating fresh green grass. The deer's antlers fall off at one point, and he puts a bag over his head, embarrassed. And then the bag falls off. The sheep looks at him for a moment.
"You aren't as important as you think you are." He said.



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