Listen, man, thank you very much for listening to me rant and cuss up a fuckin' storm yesterday.
Any time. So did you end up feeling better?
Yeah. The singing, the practicing really helped, And then when the clonazepam kicked in...well, I ended up going to lie down to listen to Fresh Air...
Yeah. She's amazing.
She's quite an interviewer. Go on?
Yeah, well, I wound up falling asleep, of course. But it was kinda a deep, hard sleep. It was more than a nap, y'know?
So I woke up and stayed up till 2 a.m. But I was calm. Of course,as the clonazepam wore off, my mind started raging again. Today, though, was a better day than yesterday.
I'm glad, farmboy. Work's been rough lately, I know.
So, are you working on Friday's performance?
Yeah. My three latest songs, plus a couple of requests and maybe one or two covers. Don't have an order yet, but it's nice to at least know what songs I'm gonna play, so I can rehearse.
Did you rehearse today, farmboy?
Yep. I'm pretty fuckin' good at the daily playing regimen.
That counts for a lot, I would think.
I think so. It gives me kinda a sense of accomplishment. It's one of those things that's there to hang onto in those moments where you're just fuckin' convinced you're a shithead with no redeeming qualities.
FFFFUUUUUCCCCCKKKKKKK! Shit, man, that's all I have to fuckin' say at this point, man. This motherfucking cocksucking sonovabitch fuckin' job that I have. Man, I just can't fuckin' believe how incompetent certain people are working in public education. Fuck them, man!
Feel any better, farmboy?
I knew you would. You hold a lot of stuff in. Some people depend on you too much...
Too fuckin' much...
...And it's good for you to let it out in a safe place. Which you have here with me.
You sound like a therapist, a psychologist or something. Some kind of shrink.
But I'm not. At times I wish I was, though.
Do you want to talk about it, your job, your frustrations?
No. Because I want my off-time to be about my music, I want to live it for my life.
And it helps, you know?
I'm not sure I know what "it" is.
Oh, you know, music, songs.
I came home from work today just completely falling apart with anger and I took a clonazepam -- that's an anti-anxiety pill -- and smoked weed, of course.
That's how I get by. Too bad I don't hardly drink. Seriously.
I was still obsessing, though, even into the first song I played at my daily playing thing. But then, it started to change and my playing was a little more aggressive and...fuck! I was fuckin' determined to play guitar. I would not let this shit take away the attention from my music. Fuck that shit. To hell with that noise.
Good for you, farmboy!
Thanks. I'm gonna go eat something and just hang out.
Man, I can't thank you enough for supporting me, for listening to me, even when I get in a rage. Really, man, thanks.
You're welcome, farmboy.
I'm sorry for cursing so much.
Don't worry about it. It's not anything I haven't heard before.
Oh, man. Fuckin' Monday, shit, I tell you, what a stupid day of the week.
Bad day, eh, farmboy?
Oh, I'm just moaning because it's Monday. I'm okay. You?
I'm good, I'm good, thanks.
Well, I gotta tell you, man, I'm tired. But I'm okay. I'm performing at the coffeehouse Friday night. So I have something to work for this week. That's cool.
Also, I get paid Thursday, first normal paycheck in months. That means groceries and that the bills will be paid, and, oh yes, the illusion of money. It doesn't last very long, but there it is. It's a good thing to have for about 20 minutes once a month.
Man, I'm totally burnt, I'm totally drained. It's work and physical problems and this pressure I'm feeling because it's this busy weekend and I don't want to be busy, y'know? Pisses me off, man. I don't know what to blame or even if I should blame because I'm too fuckin' tired to blame.
What's going on this weekend, farmboy? Busy with...?
It's social-slash-musical. I have some friends who are moving to Guatemala next month and there's a farewell show tonight. Tomorrow is my songwriting group -- they changed dates, so it's this Sunday. Right now I'm at my brother's house. They're not here, they went to see some friends out of town. So I'm washing my clothes. I've got time, so I thought I'd call.
I'm glad you did. So what do you think you're going to do?
I'm thinking of going to the coffeehouse after I leave here and seeing my friends. And then I'm thinking about cancelling tomorrow. I don't have a new song to share anyway, and I can always see them next month. My friends' farewell show...well, it's a farewell show.
This all might fit under the Taking Care of Yourself category heading.
Yes, it might...
Or I could just be a lazy fuckin' pothead...
Or you may have been through a lot of stress this past week.
Do -- or don't do -- what you need to do -- or not do.
I give you permission. But that's not the point. The point is: Do you give yourself permission?
Don't ask me. I am so fuckin' bad at that kind of stuff.
Doesn't matter. You're still the one making the decisions, coming up with your own rules, figuring out how to live your life.
I know. It's fucked.
But it's undeniable, farmboy.
I know, but it's still fucked.
Look, farmboy. Nobody is going to die if you don't go to those functions...
I like that word: functions.
What are you concerned about?
Losing my friends. Being pissed off because I'm not doing musical stuff because of what is basically the end product of stress from work. Get's me bitter, pisses me off. I'd rather sit at home and smoke weed and finish the Jonathan Franzen book. I'm almost finished. Then it's on to Rosanne Cash's autobiography.
You know, farmboy, I guess what I'm saying is that if you need to stay home, stay home. You know what's best for you.
So that means you're not going to make the decisions for me?
I'm not going to make the decisions for you, farmboy.
Asshole. Motherfucking cocksucker. Making me take responsibility for myself. C'mon! Be a pal!
Nope. No way.
Aaargh! I'm going to lose one way or the other. I'm going to feel guilty all night and maybe tomorrow.
You feel guilty no matter what. That's one thing I've learned about you.
Man, it's that fucking scrupulosity, you know, it just ain't fair. Combined with being raised in the Catholic Church, but I don't want to go into that tonight.
It would be good to get into that some time with you, though.
I agree. Not right now, though. That stuff fuckin' scares me. Now there's where guilt is gonna come in. Big time.
I got so many problems and I just don't want to focus on them right now. Not just problems, but things like character flaws, mistakes I've made or will be making or making mistakes in the present tense.
I like that line. Making Mistakes in the Present Tense. Fuck, that's a song or the title of my memoir or something.
Are you thinking about writing a memoir?
Oh, no fuckin' way. I'm really only interested in things as far as they relate to songwriting.
That's my boy!
That's the way life is. "How am I going to exploit this for songwriting?" I'm just a fuckin' whore for writing songs. You know, I'd go tomorrow night, no problem, if I had a song I wanted to share. I feel like I've let myself down.
Hey, by the way, thanks for being so supportive of my music. When you said your last statement...
That's my boy?
Yeah. That felt good, you know, like I was a kid who had done a good thing and you're mussing up my hair and telling me you're proud of me and stuff. Because I'm not a kid, I'm way beyond that. I mean, I'm not really anybody's boy, y'know? I'm old. Both my Mom and Dad are gone and...let's change the subject.
Getting too close for comfort?
Yeah. Everything gets so fuckin' complicated.
I gotta relax, I gotta simplify my mind, I gotta stop worrying and being afraid all the time. I gotta clear these cobwebs outta my brain.
How about watching TV?
I don't really have a TV. I mean, I have a little TV I bought a few years ago, but I couldn't afford the digital box thingy and so..,.I just use it to watch DVDs sometimes.
But you're at your brother's house. Do they have a TV?
Yeah. I guess I could. But I'd rather read.
I'm going to have to make some decisions soon...
But you're not through obsessing about everything yet.
Uh, that's not what I was going to say.
But it's true.
I don't even fuckin' know what's true any more. I feel like I'm just, like, painting myself into a corner. Not that I'm using any cliches, but...
Do what's right for you. Just try to not stress out any more than you need to. You're getting too stressed.
Yeah, yeah, breathe...
I am proud of you, farmboy. These are small decisions. These are minor decisions. Give yourself a break, farmboy.
I'll try to.
Enjoy whatever you do.
If I can...
It's your decision. But I would choose whatever I really wanted.
Okay. That's what I'll do.
So long, farmboy. Check in tomorrow if you want.
I will probably want. Thanks, man, for always listening.
Man, I just can't believe Friday is actually here. You know, some weeks it seems like Friday will never come, but somehow it always does. Which I know could be a metaphor for something in some song somewhere, but I just can't be bothered with it somehow,
Anyway, I'm in here for a chance to finally actually really rest from this work week. I can get stoned and play guitar and tomorrow I see my brother and his family and go to the coffeehouse for a farewell concert of a friend of mine. And I got my songwriting group on Sunday night.
Gotta do music stuff. Gotta remind myself of who I am and forget about those stupid fuckin' problems at my stupid fuckin' job.
Good on you for the music, farmboy. I think you're right. I think, right now, the music is really important. But, of course, it's always really important.
You got that right. And even though a lot of times I don't want to be social, I know that a certain amount is necessary for me.
We are social creatures...
Yeah. I'm still not decided if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
I'm tired and I gotta go to bed soon. But I wanted to let you know that I went out tonight...
A week night? You went out?
I went to see a friend of mine from California who played at the coffeehouse tonight. He did a great job.
But, you know, I just want credit for it. I just thought I should keep you informed, since that's...well, I don't know,man, I feel bad talking about myself all the time, you know? I feel so fuckin' self-involved. Which I am. Self-involved, that is.
Tough, farmboy. I'm the interviewer, you're the interviewee.
Interviewee? That's a weird fuckin' word.
Farmboy, I'm here to listen to you. You know that.
I know. But I feel bad talkin' about myself all the time.
That's natural because you're a nice guy. You're not used to being listened to. That's why I'm here.
Man, I'm a fuckin' wreck today. I mean, I have no energy, I fucked up my shoulder and neck at work and the stress from my fuckin' work is now doing shit to my stomach. And, man, I am so fuckin' stupid. I've been eating bad food and hardly any fruit or vegetables. I need to drink more water. I haven't been sleeping well either, which is kinda strange for me.
So what are you going to do about this predicament?
I'm gonna take an anti-anxiety pill and try to have a good night's sleep, I'm performing tomorrow and I'd like to feel good, you know?
I finished that grant today, yo. The final performance. I played for a small group of kids and some adults. Pretty intimate and I got to pay each one of them a lot of attention. There was this one kid I had worked with when I moved out here from Texas. I love that.
Sounds great, farmboy. That grant -- that started off a little rocky as I recall, but you sure got the hang of it.
Yeah, it ended up being pretty fuckin' great.
I'm proud of you, farmboy.
Yes. You won't let yourself be proud, so I'm going to be proud for you.
Man, I had this practice session -- this rehearsal -- that just went so fuckin' great. It felt so good and it came completely out of nowhere. I mean, I didn't know it would go well when I started. I love it when that happens.
Good for you, farmboy. Glad to hear it.
I'm really tired, or...something. I'm feeling kinda depressed over work, but there's no real reason to talk about it, especially when the music's going well. Gotta look at priorities, you know, and to me music and family and good friends are the priorities.
Which means, always means, that I need to encourage those things in my life. The social stuff can be kinda hard 'cause I'm really an introvert. I'm exhausted after a social event. You know that. right?
So I have to be careful to find the balance. And that's sorta hard 'cause my limits in social stuff seems to be so much less than other people's limits...
And that's okay, farmboy.
I know. But I ain't no hermit, either. Like I say, I have to find that balance.
But this is all stuff for another time. Tonight I'm tired and I worked all day. So I think I'm going to rest for a while and eat supper and go to bed. See, this is one of the things I hate about working --
you work all day and then you're tired and you don't get enough time to actually live your own life. Which really fuckin' sucks.
But you know what? I had a good rehearsal. And tonight I think that should be enough.
And it is, farmboy. You've worked hard. Get some rest. Take care of yourself, physically and emotionally.
Tell you stuff? What the fuck am I supposed to tell you?
Anything, farmboy. I haven't seen you in a couple days and I wondered what you've been up to. That's all.
Oh. Well, work still sucks and I really need to remove myself, emotionally speaking. But I don't want to talk about work...
Okay then, distance yourself. Music?
(smiles) Ah, music!
I play on Sunday as part as a going away celebration. Some friends of mine are moving to Guatemala. A half-hour set in front of a listening audience. So I've been working on that, practicing and figuring out what songs i want to play.
Yeah, it's so fuckin' cool. I love doing stuff like that because it's a special performance. I mean, they're all special performances, but something like this, man, it's like an honor to play. I fuckin' love it.
That's great, farmboy.
I've been writing a lot, too, it's one of those times when ideas come real naturally. We'll see where it leads.
I could use a musical adventure. Man, I would fuckin' love it.
I've had them before, you know. There is nothing -- not one single thing -- that's better. No amount of money or power. Not that I've had any power or money but, hey, you know.
Well, this seems like a pretty positive time for you.
We'll see. I want to have fun with it, to play with it. I want to fall in love with it and get it pregnant behind the high school gym.
The high school gym?
(laughs) I guess I want to experience deep creativity. Not that I don't, believe me...I'm thankful for each song that gets written, each note that gets played. But I would love one of those magical periods where it's kinda sustained, like a sustained musical note, you know?
I hope you do. And I want to hear about it when you do.
I don't know about your favorite songwriter, but I'm tense because of work.
But it's Saturday...
I know. And I also know I don't want to talk about my fuckin' job.
Then let's talk about your real work: songwriting.
Ah, thanks. It's really good to hear somebody acknowledge that.
Not much to report, except I wrote a verse and a sort-of chorus yesterday, and I've been adding song ideas to my "song ideas" document that I keep on my desktop for easy access. How fuckin' professional of me, huh?
I'm impressed. That's a good idea.
So I've been tapping into that source, you know, and we'll see what comes up out of the ideas. They're kind of like the seeds for songs, you know? I read over all these ideas once in a while to see if there's anything there that's clicked yet. Or that has the potential to click.
It's good to have that kind of thing. I used to put up poster board in my room when I lived in Austin, and I'd write them down so I could see them all the time. Now I use the computer for it, nut it seems to work just as well, if not better. I don't look at them as often as I did when I used the poster board, but that's okay.
It keeps you writing...
In one way or another.
What have you been listening to, farmboy?
Mostly podcasts of NPR-type stuff, you know, Terry Gross, that kind of stuff. Not much music, which is a real shame. I've been playing, though. I'm working on this Tom T. Hall song. He's written some songs that are fuckin' great.
So you've been musically busy?
Somewhat. Yeah, I guess I have. I've also got a couple gigs in the next few weeks, which is way cool. And I really do want to start working on the new CD. Even if it's just a guitar/vocal type thing, I still need to get started. Plus all the looking for gig stuff, it's all kinda overwhelming. I could use some help.
I'll help in any way I can, farmboy.
Thanks -- I appreciate it. And anyway, you're already helping. A lot. I don't say thank you enough, man. But I do really appreciate it.
Fuck, man, I had this fuckin' bad day at work. Three fuckin' days in the school year and already it's turned to shit.
But I don't want to talk about that.
What do you want to talk about, farmboy?
About how I can't stick up for myself, have an opinion and/or be in any conflict without feeling bad and guilty and I have to obsess over it and completely think about it and relive it over and over and fuckin' over again. And that's just wrong. Why can't I let myself be fuckin' human once in a while? What the fuck?
So what I'm talking about then is my age old nemesis: Mental Illness.
I am not talking about work. My job already takes up way too much of my time and life. I don't want to give it any more attention than what the greedy bastard demands. And believe me, it is not blameless.
So I'm back to Mental Illness. Ah, what did you do this summer? You found other things to do than torment me, you motherfuckin' son-of-a-prick. Damn this. Damn this.
So what are you going to do, farmboy?
Fighting back means making the music my life, enjoying the people I love and who love me, and, you know, trying to eat healthy and get some exercise and (laughs) drink water and read good books and fun novels...all sorts of shit, man, all the positive stuff. That's what I mean by "fighting back."
Counteracting the negative with the positive.
Exactly! That's what I'm talking about, man!
Now that...that can give life meaning.
That's what my whole existence on this planet has been made of.
I'll tell you, man, I am so tired. Plus I haven't eaten much all day plus I went and played instrumental guitar at the Ronald McDonald House and my hands -- my fuckin' carpel tunnel kicked in and it was actually painful to play. (laughs) You know, if it's acute pain, then maybe I can finally qualify for medical marijuana.
How are you doin', man?
Thanks for asking. I'm good. Summer's ending and that always makes me just a little sad.
I know it.
I think it would make a good song, and I think you're the person to write it, farmboy.
I wrote a verse to one earlier. I was with you, in fact.
I remember. Maybe that's why you came to mind.
Well, I'll go back and look at it and maybe there's something there. You can never have enough sad songs, you know?
Look, I'm gonna go get something to eat and rest for awhile, okay? Do you mind?
Anything you need to talk about? About work, I mean.
No, not really. That's not what you're here for and that not anything I care to talk about on my dime, you know? This is my time. Music time.
That's the farmboy I know!
Damn fuckin' right. I gotta work on this CD.
Yeah. You sound surprised.
No, I'm just really glad. You write these songs and work on them and work on guitar and work on vocals. I think you need to record a CD just to remind yourself who you are.
I know. This is going to be fun. I need to figure out a budget and then figure out how I'm going to get that budget. I'm thinking about doing this thing called Kickstarter, which is this online thing to help you raise money. I need to look more into it, ask some people about it, see if maybe it'll work. And then do a very simple CD, with minimal backing. I would like to have a fiddle on it. Ideally I'd also like to have upright bass and maybe some percussion.
Maybe put together a little combo...
I love the word "combo."
What do you think, farmboy?
I think I don't play well with others. But, on the other hand,I think that may be a good idea, especially if it's just me and the percussionist and the bassist. I'll have to think about it. Of course, the other thing is that I don't have to use the rhythm section on every song. I'm still a long way off from that kind of decision. But it's a good thing to consider.
I'm glad you're thinking about this stuff, farmboy.
You know, I'm back to work for ten fuckin' months. I gotta have something to live for.
So I've had, like, this incredibly lazy day, made all the more valuable by the simple fact that I'm back at work so I can feel muy thankful for time off. It's such a luxury.
Right now I'm making supper. Which is basically spaghetti but I'm using a different type of pasta. Right now the water's boiling.
Sounds good. Do you make your own sauce?
Oh, hell no. It comes from a can.
I gotta think of some new music to listen to when I go to bed at night. Any suggestions?
Is this music to fall asleep to, farmboy?
You know, one of the things about living in an apartment is that I really have to be pretty quiet at night. Not that I'm a loud person; I mean, I'm basically pretty quiet and considerate, especially for a musician.
So what this means is that I just have to spend some time hunting on the internet. A lot of nights in the past few months I find myself listening to Ali and Toumani by Ali Farke Toure and Toumani Diabate. From Africa. Mali. Beautiful stuff, almost trance-like at times.
Mostly. There's some singing.
Music is important when you're falling asleep. It's hard, at least for me, to find the good stuff.
I need to try to...well, not exactly copy it, but thinkabout it when I'm writing. I need to try on some different types of musical clothes for a while...Again, not copying it,,but finding some way where the feeling of it is infused in my own music.
Is that hard, farmboy?
It's hard in that you want to be kinda influenced, and it's sorta difficult to do that when you're so fuckin' conscious of it. It's always best to be as natural as possible, to not force anything. I'm not the type who wants to control the music so much.
We'll see. Maybe I've planted a seed. I'm going to be writing more. You never know what's going to come up.
Souinds like an adventure, farmboy.
To be sure, dude. Music should always be an adventure.
Hey, this is Labor Day weekend, all the kids go back to school Tuesday, I only have a few more performances for the grant, and there's now a piano at work.
There's also some major stuff going on at work, but I don't feel like talking about it.
Is everything okay, farmboy?
Oh, I'm okay. It's mainly about a teacher who's having some major challenges right now. There is literally nothing I can do about it. It's just interesting and worrisome and -- up to a certain point -- none of my business.
It's good that you know that.
So, what's up with you, man? What's your life been like lately?
Good. It's been good. I'm reading the same book that you've been reading.
Freedom? By Jonathan Franzen?
That's the one. I just started it. It's very interesting.
I'm loving it, myself. I'm amazed how readable it is...I mean,it flows so naturally that it's just effortless to read. I would like to write songs like that.
Some people would say that you already do.
Well, that's the goal for me, to be as natural as possible in my music. In my lyrics and in my singing. (laughs) I guess it's working.
This songwriting stuff, it's fuckin' hard a lot of the time, but when you get it it's fuckin' wonderful.
I've been taking myself more seriously as a writer lately. Which is not as good as actually writing,
Yes, but you've been reading more lately...
That's true, and the last book I finished was a novel about a writer. The John Irving book.
But, you know, it's having close contact with words. That's important.
Hey, here's my little lesson for the day. In his book On Writing -- which I haven't read yet, but I will -- he says that to be a writer, you have to write a lot and read a lot. There's no two ways around it.
I can believe that.
Translate that to songwriting -- write a lot, listen a lot -- and we got something there, you know?
Fuck, man, I'm back at work. This is already the second day and I'm already getting fuckin' pissed off, I can't...I won't,,,I won't live like that. I'm going to take an anxiety pill and get a good night's sleep. And then I'll start again, fresh.
How's that sound?
Sounds good, farmboy.
I agree. Good night, man. I'll talk at you later, Mr. Interviewer Man.