This is the final month of my fifties; one month from today I will turn 60.
Recently I’ve been feeling the sting of reality in a much fiercer way, and so I set about to express my thoughts differently than I ever had before. While not writing here for this dear blog, instead I’ve spent the past two months doing something entirely new to me: I have been writing songs. Just a month ago I would’ve been hard pressed to fill a set, now I have two generous sets of songs ready to go. Not all are keepers, but some, I believe, are pretty good.
Flushed with the excitement of creating songs that actually worked – songs that came from a genuine place of inspiration and most of which held together pretty well – I experienced a few moments of idealistic bliss, thinking that perhaps I should try to market these little gems. Some are quite formulaic, and they hit all the marks – with a little production could easily be imagined as the bed behind an introspective montage of some cookie-cutter Netflix drama… But that idea has been quickly dispensed with, at least for now, as the initial thrill has died down and the real world has imposed itself upon my starry-eyed visions. It’s ok. It certainly won’t stop me from writing. I have found that writing songs is a thrill and a challenge, it’s something I now love. And at this point in my life, I can draw from a deep well of experience.
A few posts ago I complained about the open mic scene in this town, and I’d hatched an idea to write songs in order to grab the attention of a lost and disconnected audience. The scene fairly infuriated me; the same songs that they played, the out of tune guitars and the warbling, pitchy vocals zapped me of my patience. More accurately all of this caused me to become infuriated with my own situation, as just a year ago this time it had seemed I’d had a foothold up and out of this place, but it was not to be. This past year I’ve been just sick that my prospects had vanished, and that I was left to languish in a town without any musical peers. The only solution, it seemed, was to write my own shit. So that’s what I did.
I’m not a fan of most disclaimers before a performance – but in this case I feel I must make it clear that by no means do I presume myself to be a poet. In some ways I suppose I’m creating a type of poetry that exists in tandem with music, but in that the words and music often arrive together, I don’t feel it’s the same. Nor do I think that my stuff is particularly enlightened or exceptional. But on the whole, I’m happy with these first exploratory months into this new mode of expression. It’s what makes me feel that this whole crappy detour of a year hasn’t been entirely for naught.
My health still has me in a near-constant state of despondency. I’m not far away from the heaviest weight of my life and due to ongoing troubles with my herniated discs, I just can’t move the way I used to. My mood continues to swing from the darkest downs to infrequent glimmers of hope and promise. The songwriting is another tool to help distract me from the day-to-day disappointments of what is my current life. But there is a small light driving me forward; I’ve been given several solo shows in which to perform my material, starting with a modest guest spot this weekend to a set as a featured artist at the local and iconic Caffe Lena. It’s definitely something. I don’t look forward to dealing with the panic attacks and mind games of anxiety that come with that attention, but the clock is ticking down now, and I don’t have time to fuck around. This seems a rare opportunity for a fresh start.
Turning 60 is much different than embarking on any decade that’s come before. It truly feels like it’s now or never. The stakes feel higher, the outcomes are so much dearer. In this life of mine I’m hoping for a few more moments of the connection and satisfaction that performing brings. And with any luck the journey will bring me into the sphere of good musicians once again, and before the final curtain there’ll be a few more shows to play.