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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…

suitcases and guitars (on my way to where)


I have passed it hundreds of times. A suitcase under a thick layer of dust sits outside an apartment door across from ours. The only fresh marks are accidental, someone brushing against it exposing the old stiff leather. Maybe it is empty. Maybe there is junk inside that never made it to the garbage trucks downstairs. It was invisible, but I would like to think I would notice if it went missing.

Standing in the hallway, camera in hand I look down the stairs, their banisters shining in the late afternoon sun. To the left is the suitcase, and now I finally see it, the ironic metaphor. The people that never go anywhere are behind that door.

And then, on the way to the new market where they sell thick cuts of ribeye, where the floors smell of ammonia and sweet coffee. Here is a balcony, just a few feet off the ground. Closed in, as is the tradition here. A place to store sleds and boxes of books. A guitar hangs crooked from a wall staring back at me. The cold is terrible for an instrument like this. It will warp the neck, make it almost impossible to play or keep in tune. It stands like a trophy, like all of the guitars in the corners of teenager's rooms in those films from the 80s. Unplayed, an empty boast.






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