Oh, man. Right now I'm having anxiety, you know, I'm just in fuckin' panic...
Breathe, farmboy. Take a deep breath and hold it for a little while, then exhale slowly.
(farmboy breathes, holds, and exhales twice, then decides to do it again, five times.)
How was that?
It was good. Thanks.
What brought this on, farmboy?
Oh, you know, school's starting the day after tomorrow, and there's gonna be big changes. And the thing is, I know everything's gonna be fine. I know this. But I'm still having this fuckin' anxiety. And then I really have to watch it, because I'm in such a negative space and I can do terrible things, mentally speaking, to myself.
I'll start thinking about things that are destructive to think about. You know, like death and meaninglessness,,,wait, that can't be a word...Anyway, it, like, totally sucks. And, more than that, it's worthless.
Can I make a suggestion?
Maybe try this: Acknowledge that the anxiety's there, take medication if you feel you need to, and then move on to relaxing things, entertaining things.
Like listening to something interesting and entertaining, maybe that TBTL with Luke Burbank show.
Too beautiful to live. It's this great show with Luke, the host. And sometimes there's Jen and Sean. The podcast is done at his house. It used to be on the radio. but the station it was on fucked up and fired Luke and his producer Jen (They kept engineer Sean). So now it's a podcast and it's getting a better audience and it's a much better show, because they're free from the constraints of commercial radio.
Man, it's like fuckin' pulling teeth, this songwriting stuff. Sometimes it's just so fuckin' hard. It's such a fuckin' drag, you know? I mean, writing these here songs...
Yeah, yeah. Blah, blah, blah.
What the fuck's up with you, Mr. Interviewer guy?
Look, farmboy, let's just get down to what will happen, which is that you're going to do some timed writing. Okay, let's start...3...2...
Um...sorry, go ahead.
All right now. Begin.
All the worrying that I do
Thinking nightmares are the only dreams
That ever come true
Looking back on my history
You have always taken care of me
These are my lonesome eyes
Hunting for some kind of truth
Hoping to realize
Wanting some kind of proof
I look into this human heart
and always find you there
This is my
This is my
Wow. That was pretty fast. I really like it, farmboy.
Thanks. But this is just the raw material, you know? Now I need to look at this and the other stuff I've written for this song this week and see what I think about it. 'Cause right now I'm just following my instincts and not to think about it too much. And we'll see...If I decide to pursue writing this song. then the work had just begun.
You know, I'm proud of you, farmboy.
What do you think?
Because I stopped complaining and wrote something?
You go back to writing, always, at one point or another. This time you did it sooner than later, though.
Of course not. Here we go. (looks at watch) Okay, start.
This is my foggy mind
Awake from dreams and sleep
These are my simple words
I ask the Lord my soul to keep
These are my plans I've made
Fallen to disrepair
This is my
I continued from yesterday. Imperfect Prayer, take two. Hope you don't mind.
I think that's a good thing to do. Do you think this one's a keeper?
I have no fuckin' idea. Of course I hope that it is, but right now I think the important thing is just that I write, to get in that habit. And also to see if I can get some stuff that interests me enough to work on it.
Like we did yesterday, you know, with the writing.,,
You liked that, did you?
I did. And I know I can do this on my own, but it's more fun this way.
All right, then. Ready?
This is the cracking in my voice
These are the wrinkles on my skin
This is the sound of one heart breaking
Like a thrown out piece of porcelain
These are the tears of one soul trying
This is the mouth that too often swears
This is my
Very nice, farmboy, Really nice, in fact. That's very good.
Thanks. I really think this is good for me...and maybe I should do this on my own, too. It's sure interesting. I think part of the purpose I'm looking at is to see what raw material I can get to work with. The main other thing is the craft thing, the practice thing, y'know? Malcolm Gladwell wrote that book Outliers about that kind of thing, spending hours and hours and hours. I heard this great interview with him on that podcast Radiolab and he talked about the ingredient of love of what you're doing. (laughs) I'm not explaining this fuckin' thing very well, am I?
You're doing fine, farmboy.
Anyway, thanks for doing this with me. It's good not to be lonely all the time. I 'preciate it, man.
I like fiction. I like non-fiction. I like having other people's thoughts in my head and not my own fuckin' thoughts. I mean, you know, I like my own thoughts a good deal of the time, but not always, you know?
I'm almost finished with the John Irving novel and I've been listening to The Discomfort Zone, the memoir by Jonathan Franzen. Both are really great. I'm glad I can read.
Have you ever written prose?
Oh, sure. And I can be good at it. But one thing I know for sure is that I'm a songwriter. Putting lyrics and melody together I'm pretty natural at. Which is funny, because it's usually so hard to write a song, you know? Which, in a way, is...it has a quality that's just a mystery. And in a way, I'm glad.
You like the mystery, farmboy?
Yeah. It can be maddening in a way...Or waiting might be the maddening thing about it. Iris DeMent, do you know her stuff?
I've heard her on NPR. Wonderful voice.
Yeah. She's a great songwriter, too. She once said that songwriting is just waiting. And sometimes that seems so true.
Let's talk about something else. Because what I do, over and over and over, is just tell you about my day. I don't know what else to talk about, offhand, but I just don't want to talk about my fuckin' day, you know.
Fine with me.
Ask me anything.
Okay. If you could have a superpower, would in be a) the ability to be invisible, or b) the ability to fly?
I heard this once. It was on This American Life. John Hodgman, I think. Invisibility vs. Flight.
Exactly. Which would you choose, farmboy?
Flight. No contest.
I just want to fly for the physicality of it. Just to see what it feels like. I bet it would feel bitchin', you know. It would just be natural, you wouldn't be afraid. Can you imagine? I mean, I have problems driving over fuckin' bridges, for God's sake.
I know. We'll see just how many of these beers I drink. I'm not terribly worried. This is good, though -- it's, like, cheap beer from Mexico that's sold at Trader Joe's. It's really very good.
Right now, in the oven, is the very first pizza I've ever made, by the way.
Yeah, can you fuckin' believe it? It wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I bought the dough at Trader Joe's, too. I like Trader Joe's.
What about music, farmboy?
I played for the kids at one of the local hospitals. It was great, very intimate. I went from room-to-room. It went very well.
And I wrote most of what will be the first draft for a new song. I don't know how I feel about it -- I haven't gone back over it since I wrote it. It does feel good to write, though.
That's great, farmboy. You sound pretty -- well, "even."
That's what I'm focusing on, anyway. I've felt a little down today, a little fearful...of nothing in particular. But, look, I'm fine. I'm not panicking, not me, no sir-ree-bob...
Are you being serious?
Oh, I've been a little panicky lately. But, you know, I do breathe. (laughs) I kinda think that I'm beginning to sabotage myself these days a little. Kinda like "Look, you're getting close to being professional now -- let's see how you fuck up. Go on, try not to, farmboy. I dare you. Try not to fuck it up."
Tell me about it. That's why I'm electing to ignore it.
Makes sense to me.
Yep. I got me a guitar, a computer, I got beer...
You got homemade handmade pizza.
Hey, man -- I got rhythm. Who could ask for anything more?
Yeah. Surprise to me. I was practicing and I realized that I really like my own songs. (laughs) So it was just doing and sequencing and stuff like that. And it's gonna take a lot more, um, investigating and exploring...
Which is not necessarily a bad thing...
No, no, not at all. It's a very good thing.
How did it feel?
Good, it felt good. I'm just really thankful that it happened naturally,you know? That I wasn't so fuckin' conscious of it, you know, that I didn't force it.
That's really important that you feel that way, farmboy. Let yourself get yourself free.
Uh..what exactly does that mean?
Um, farmboy, I gotta confess...
I smoked pot, farmboy...
(claps hands) Oh, man! This is too much! This is so cool! I'm so fuckin' proud of you, man!
Oh, man. I have been so fuckin' stressed, it ain't even funny. But I'm calmed down a bit now. Fuck. I hate how I get.
What's up, farmboy? What's got you all worked up?
Little things, mainly, and that's what I have to remember. There's this big folk festival in town and I'm not involved in any way and that pisses me off. I'm just not enough of a fuckin' hipster to be a folksinger, I guess.
That sucks. But, look, you're a songwriter not a folksinger.
I mainly mean folk is my style. I think to most people, folk mainly means you play acoustically. And that's really where most of my roots lie.
And, of course, there's money problems and creative problems...
I'm not sure I believe in writer's block. It;s just been kinda difficult. It's frustrating, but I just have to not give it any more power than it already has. Because I will write. I know this. And, in a way, it'll save my life like it always has before.
What else is hard, farmboy?
Little things, like I said. I'm at my brother's house. His printer's out of ink. My printer just fuckin' sucks, it's one of those Epsom printers that's cheap and flimsy. I just fuckin' put ink in it, but does it work? Fuck no. And I have this form that I'm tryin' to print out for this grant thing.
And I've been trying to get directions to this gig, and it's in this hard-to-reach location, of course.
Everything is conspiring to piss me off. But, like I say, I'm calmed down quite a bit. The fuckin' heat wave is finally over, and I have nothing planned for tomorrow, no gigs, no business, nothing. I'm thinking about ordering some take out Thai food and smokin' weed tonight and playing guitar and maybe do some writing. We'll see. I'll have to figure out if I can justify getting some Thai food.
What would you order?
Pad See Eu. With beef. I had no meat yesterday, so I can afford to eat beef, nutritionally speaking.
It's my favorite food. Well, that and avocados and oranges.
Well, there's also potato chips and macaroni and cheese and buttermilk donuts and French fries and anything with chocolate...
You're making me hungry.
But that's all after the gig tonight. The Thai food, that is. Not the rest of it.
Hey, this is off the subject, but I wanted to apologize for nor calling sooner. I've been at my brother's house to escape the heat, and that was good.
No problem. I figured as such.
Have fun tonight, farmboy.
Oh, I will. I haven't smoked weed for a little while, and it'll be good to get home.
Just tryin' to keep cool, man. 99 degrees today, so I'm doing all I can. Wasn't too bad last night. Today really hasn't been so bad. I think part of the trick is to keep moving. The hardest thing for me to do in the heat is sleep, 'cause you just lay there and sweat. Like a fuckin' beached whale.
Do beached whales sweat?
Good question. Work on that, will you?
I thought you were going to stay at your brother's house, farmboy.
I was going to, but I changed my mind. Tomorrow night for sure.
So today hasn't been a bad day. I've been spending way too much time on the internet. I've discovered this website called Reddit, which is kinda like , you know, message boards on everything. You can waste the whole day on Reddit.
Do you enjoy it?
Yeah. But it's like there's more to life than just looking at the internet. It's good for me to get out tomorrow and see my brother and his wife and my niece.
Being that this is your "summer of being human" and all...
Tomorrow is a day among humans.
Good for you, farmboy.
I like how you're not giving up on this summer. I like how you haven't gone terribly deeply into depression or sadness...
Or self pity...
Now if I could just write one good song for this summer...
Hot enough for you? Summer's here with a vengeance. Or close to it; 95 degrees is hot enough for me.
I suppose it's time for it; it's been an incredibly mild summer. And, I know, there's not much hot weather here compared to Austin, Texas, where I lived for 11 years. But, on the other hand, every place in Austin has air-conditioning, including the apartments I lived in. But I only have one window where I could conceivably put a window unit, and I love sleeping with the window open during the summer
It was 100 degrees a few weeks ago...
Yeah, but fortunately I was housesitting...
That's right, I remember now. A dog, a piano, and air conditioning.
Fuckin' A, y'know. It was great living in air conditioning for a few days.
So I'm thinking about going to my brother's house for a few days. I can sleep in the basement -- it's cooler there. My niece would enjoy it; she's been wondering when I can do a sleepover at their house.
She likes to wake me up in the morning. Maybe we can go to the movies. Some place with air conditioning.
What would you do at your brother's place?
Probably spend a lot of time outside. I need to remember to bring my guitar and my book and my trusty iPod. I've got to download some podcasts and maybe some music.
Listen to me complain...I'm a pretty blessed guy, y'know? It's hot, but I've got family and a book and a guitar and music and shit. So I guess I'm going to go there.
Unless the weather changes and it suddenly becomes cooler.
I gotta write a song. I haven't written one for a little while...I mean, I've been working on one but I think it's close to finished. I need a new song. My self-worth depends on it.
Yeah? Well, have you written today?
Well, as a matter of fact Mr. Smarty Pants, I have. I got one verse to a new song and I sweated blood for it, I tell ya.
Do you like it?
I sorta like it. It's too early to tell.
Can you tell me what it's about?
It's about the property where my family reunion was held.
Oh, right. Hom-something. Like hominy or homogenized...
Jamul. That's in eastern San Diego county. It's Spanish; the J is pronounced like an H.
I'm thinking I should just write the song. If I like it enough, I'll send it to my cousin Patti. If I like it more, I'll perform it. But, you know, it's too soon for any of that. I need to write the song first. I need to stay on task. I need to focus.
Have you been playing?
I've played a couple of times today. Went over the newer stuff. It felt good, which is fuckin' great. It feels good to work sometimes, you know? And it hasn't felt all that good lately. I feel like I got off track due to going to California, but that excuse is getting old. It's already old.
Oh, yeah! I started the latest novel by John Irving while I was in Cali and I really like it. It's called Last Night in Twisted River. I'm, like, 220 pages into it. His writing is so fuckin' comfortable to me.
I'm totally enjoying it, dude.
Bought the new Arcade Fire CD at Best Buy for $7.99. It's really great. I need to listen too it more, let the songs sink in my brain and heart. I need to internalize them.
What about you, man? What are you up to?
I've been resting this summer. I don't want to be busy. I'll leave the travelling and the performing and the writing to you, farmboy.
You're missing out, man. When stuff goes right, life can be okay.
I said I was sorry, okay? Give me a fuckin' break.
What's up, farmboy? What's really bothering you?
(shakes head) I'm sorry, man. I'm just a little tense. I didn't mean to take it out on you.
Tell me what's going on, farmboy.
Oh, I'm just feeling stressed about money and playing for the kids at the hospital and summer's running out. It's fuckin' speeding by. (laughs) Pisses me off!
It's been a good summer, hasn't it?
A whole lot better than last summer, I'll tell you that. I also haven't been so isolated this summer. I keep telling myself that "this is my summer of being human." I've been more social than usual, but I've also had alone time, you know. I need a good amount of solitude.
I hadn't noticed...
Fuckin' asshole! (laughs) Anyway, it's been pretty nicely balanced, this summer. I just hope I can make enough money...
Wait! Don't go there yet. Stay in this second of time. Don't worry yet.
"Yet"...Does this mean that worrying is gonna come?
It will come and go. All things must pass...
Isn't that a George Harrison album?
You're right, you know. I need to just stop worrying and appreciate where I'm at.
You're still in summer, you know. Stay where you are until it leaves.