Y'know, I don't want to give this too much power over me, but I'm just not coming up with anything that I have to write about. And then I think that maybe I'm focusing too much on the...the writing of the song...no, that's not what I mean either.
I just want a new song to fall in love with, that's all.
What if you just relax and not put so much pressure on yourself?
Maybe. It's, like, I don't want to be a lazy songwriter, you know. But, on the other hand, forcing songs usually doesn't work, but sometimes it does work. Ain't no big fuckin' deal, man. Songs will come. They always do.
Would you call this a writer's block, farmboy?
I hate all that talk about fuckin' writer's block type stuff. So much of this songwriting thing is such a mystery.
But it's hard, man. It's frustrating. But you gotta keep up your chops, y'know? Gotta keep those songwriting muscles workin'. Gotta make some way to make the work feel like play.
This is so weird. I just got an idea.
gotta find some way to make the work feel like play like a potter with a ball of clay I need to find what's mine within I wake up with the rising sun and do whatever must be done the only race that must be run is the one in my own skin
Remember,, first draft. Right off the top of my head. I don't know if it's any good. I'm sure it has to be rewritten, but that's okay, that's part of that "process" thing I always hear from songwriters in interviews online. So just remember that this is just a beginning, it's nowhere near done, and that it could...
Just leave that for the right time. Don't be critical right now. Take a breath, farmboy.
(farmboy closes his eyes and takes several deep breaths, inhaling through his nose, holding it for a few seconds, then exhaling slowly through his mouth)
You've improved your breathing, farmboy.
Thanks. We had a training about it at work.
Somewhat. I'm not sure how well this breathing stuff actually works, but it doesn't hurt.
(the interviewer changes the subject)
So, what movie is going to take home the best picture Oscar?
I'd like to see The Social Network take it, but it'll probably be The King's Speech. Which I liked, by the way. I just like The Social Network better. I don't know, man, I hate the idea of "a best movie," it's really just this economic thing with all these Hollywood politics that seem so far away, you know...
Hey, wait, man! You're just trying to get me away from criticizing myself.
Precisely, farmboy. So you can come back to it fresh.
That's probably for the better, really.
Think you'll go back to today's songwriting? You didn't seem to force that too much.
I need to talk to you. I need to clarify something. It's important to me.
Of course. What's wrong, farmboy?
You know those lyrics that I show you?
I don't know if I've ever told you, but those are first drafts I've been showing you. Or free writing. At any rate, it's not the finished product by any means. I'm kinda just...just writing. That's what I do.
That's all, farmboy?
I just thought you should know that. I also wanted to show you that I do work at this songwriting stuff. I may not be doing enough in other areas, but I am working.
I see it, farmboy. I see you playing guitar, at various times during the day, everyday. I know you work on singing even when -- maybe especially when -- you're driving.
That's 'cause my CD player in my truck don't work. Fuckin' pisses me off, man, I tell you what.
I guess what I'm saying is that you don't have to prove anything to me. You work. And, I promise you this, it's going to pay off.
Oh, I ain't frustrated or nothin', man. I didn't mean to give you that impression.
Let me clarify something, though. When I say "pay off," I don't necessarily mean financially. Even though that may happen, too. I mean that you'll have a good life...
I think a lot of that is happening now. The vast majority of friends I have come from music. Most of the good times I have in my life are because of music. And -- you know this -- a lot of times when I make it through the month financially, it's due to playing music, you know, performing. I mean, I guess, that a lot of the good stuff in my life is because of music. Playing and listening and creating.
I'm glad you recognize that, farmboy.
'Course I wouldn't turn my back on more money, either.
I'm just a little bit sad, you know, a little bit worried. Why? I don't exactly know. My mind goes from one worry to another and, well...I'm gonna be in bed in a couple of hours, so I'm just gonna unwind and not let it get me down deeper. Nothing to worry about.
I think so. I'm on the lookout for it.
You know, depression, panic, anxiety...fuckin' mental illness, man. But it's not there yet. I'm on the lookout.
Can I help, farmboy?
I will let you know and I won't delay about it. I take this shit seriously.
Man, this is what's going on. This is what I've been thinking about. I get close to making some kind of leap in my life, like I'm gonna move up to my imaginary next level. And then I fuckin' stop. Out of lack of belief in myself, or fear,or...I don't know. What I'm thinking is that I'm gonna get some counseling of a kind of behavioral basis.
Man, farmboy! It's great to hear you talking like this.
Thanks. I will need your help.
I'm here, farmboy.
I gotta do some stuff, man...
Sounds like you've been planting seeds.
I've been planting them for a while, but it feels like the roots are finally taking hold. Or some kind of metaphor. Or simile.
Let's see. A simile means something is "like" something where a metaphor...
I am, man. I can't seem to write anything that I like. Fuckin' pisses me off, y'know? Plus I want to make a CD but I don't know if my writing's a good enough quality. Maybe I should make an EP, I don't know.
Anyway, what I need to have now is a group of songs that I want to make a commitment to. This music things has to be the absolute best I can do. I can't be flaky about this. I need to commit.
I agree. I'm glad you recognize that.
I have to be aware of it. 'Cause...'cause it's great to believe in something so strongly. That's what I need to find.
And you will, farmboy.
So, yeah, man, I'm frustrated. But I'm okay. It comes with the fuckin' territory.
So this isn't a major freak-out?
Oh, no. Not even close, man. I just gotta have some faith, y'know?
It's Friday and this is the beginning of a three-day weekend. President's Day. Cool, huh?
Unfortunately, I'm fuckin' tired as hell and I'm really fuckin' cold.
How cold is it, farmboy?
Let me check. (goes outside and looks at the thermometer) Thirty-seven degrees. That's not too cold. I mean, it's not freezing, right? I'm just a fuckin' wimp, you know? Pisses me off. Anyway, I'm tired and I'm cold...
So you said. What are you going to do about it?
I thought it might be fun to just whine and complain and be critical of everybody else.
I'm gonna turn on the heater. I'm also gonna smoke weed 'cause it's Friday and a three-day weekend. I'm gonna surf the internet and relax and eventually go to bed. Get in bed where it's warm.
Get warm, farmboy, and get some rest, okay? Let's talk this weekend if you get the chance.
Not much, man. I had a good practice session today. I love it when that happens. When you play more songs, different songs than what you expected. And then you're happy until you tell yourself that you're not working hard enough...I been feeling a little down lately, man.
Just discouraged, pissed off at myself for never doing anything right, And more than anything I want to write a song that I will fall in love with, you know? So I write and I write. It's sorta like playing the lottery to me. Sometimes it's all so easy. Sometimes it feels like it's just chance and that it's the fuckin' hardest thing in the world. Writing, that is.
You know, as much as I would like to talk about the craft of writing a song, there's really this mystery to it.
Art is like that. Most, if not all, creative endeavors are mysterious in origin.
Yeah, well, that's good. I like that it's a mystery. I think we human beings think we're so fuckin' special all the time.
The saddest book in the world. It's called...let me think...
"Half a Life" by Darin Strauss.
So I finished it, and, man, it was just fuckin' great. It got me to thinking 'bout a whole mess of stuff. Like, remember when I said to you that I drawn to sadness?
I remember, farmboy.
I don't think that's all, but I'm not clear on it yet. I just know it's more than just sadness.
Then I also get to thinking about sadness and how we're all constantly running away from it. Which kinda sounds good, but...well, you're gonna get sad sooner than later and it's good to maybe know a little something about it.
I don't know, exactly. I'm still getting there.
It's kinda like, you know, how people are always, like, "I can't read this book or listen to this song or see this movie 'cause it's too depressing." Well, fuck, you know...Townes Van Zandt once said that there's two types of music: Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Da and the Blues...I mean, I like "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Da" a lot; I sing it with my students. But, fuck, man, you need the blues, too.
Anyway, I really got into the Darin Strauss book. He's an amazing writer. There's, like, no sentimentality, he never tries to manipulate your emotions. He'd make a good songwriter.
Well, I realized that in the past two weeks that I had not seen one friend who wasn't either a co-worker or a relative. And that's just fuckin' wrong, man. So after work I stopped by the coffeehouse and hung out with some musician pals. And, man, I just drank it in like a cold glass of ice water on a hot ass day in July, you know what I mean?
You needed that. You needed to be around other human beings. I know that you tend to isolate yourself, farmboy, and I'm proud of you for...
Taking the initiative?
It's more than that. You opened yourself up, farmboy, and you did what you needed to do. That's a good thing. And you know that, don't you?
Good. Just checking.
I had a real good time, just shooting the shit, y'know, talking in that songwriter-type language.
Your friends and your peers.
Yeah, man, that's right.
It's where you belong.
Songwriters are my people, you know. My tribe, mis compadres.
You fit in well.
That's true, I do. I'm a piece in the jigsaw puzzle of life and music. Or something like that.
I'm fine. farmboy, you've been smoking marijuana, haven't you?
Yep. Guilty as charged. Geez, I'm a fuckin' cliche.
Are you having fun?
I'm...relaxing. Yeah. The last couple days have been just fuckin' stressful, due to some mistakes that I made. I don't want to get into it right now, though. I've been letting these thoughts take up too much of my time and I'm tired.
You know, I'm here if you ever need to talk, farmboy.
Yeah, and don't think I don't appreciate it, man. Really. You don't know. This is, I think, fairly minor, these problems lately. I think they'll get solved all by themselves, really. If they don't I'll come a-running to you.
Good. That's good. farmboy.
Hey, I'm trying, man, really. And I have to do all this extra work because I keep getting in my own way.
I know you do. But it'll be worth it. You've got to believe that, farmboy.
So I've had enough of this closing my eyes to sadness stuff. I say bring on the sadness! So here I am, partaking of sad art.
Oh, I'm trying to be funny but it's not fuckin' working. What I'm referring to is I just saw this movie about this hiker guy...127 Hours. It's, like, great but it's excruciating to watch. I'm glad I did, but, man, whew, I mean...
I heard it was pretty intense.
Yeah. And now I'm reading this book called Half a Life by Darin Strauss. It's about the author who accidentally killed a girl when he was 18. I mean, he was driving and she rode her bike into his car...fuck, it's like the saddest book I've ever read.
So why then do you read it, farmboy?
It's hard to explain. I feel like it's my job, in a way. It's got something to do with songwriting, I know that.
(wryly) Hard to believe.
Fuck off, asshole. (laughs)
I've always been drawn to sadness, to sad things...Well, fuck, you know, I'm on fuckin' antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication, and my daily life is spent, in a lot of ways, dealing with mental illness, emotional illness.
You haven't mentioned that for a while, farmboy.
Well, yeah, because life has been calm. Which worries the shit outta me, to be honest. But it's always there, every day, believe me.
Hey, listen, I gotta eat something and brush my teeth and go to bed. But I'd like to continue this conversation at some point.
I would too.
Great. You remind me or I'll remind you, let's do it, man.
So this had some interesting parts. I'm not good at being, you know, jokey, so I'll have to go over some of these things to make sure they're not too cutesy or just fuckin' bad. And I'll have to see if this will even hold my interest. You, like never know.
Not much, farmboy. Where are you at? I'm still here at work. I have to kill, like, ten minutes or so before I can go home, so I just thought I'd call.
I'm glad you did. So what's happening at work? Not much. Today was music day, where I get to do music with students for, like, 45 minutes or so. The folks at work are giving me more responsibility. So now I'm gonna do music three times a week.
Cool! Yeah, very much so. Today we had a substitute who brought her tin whistle and Native American flute. I love both of them, but I'm really pretty entranced by the Native American flute. I love that...well, wooden sound that it has.
That's a beautiful sound. So warm and mellow. Yeah, I just love it. I'm trying to think of a way that I can incorporate it in my own music, like on a recording or something. There's this one song that I think would be great for it...not on the song itself, but as an introduction to the song.
It seems to always come back to your songs. Which it should. It should and it does. I have an fuckin' active musical imagination.
Which is a good thing. Which is a very good thing. Believe me.
Revolution, that's what. First Tunisia and now Egypt. And, I gotta tell you, I don't know hardly anything about either one. And I'm not proud of that. I really should be better informed. 'Cause -- and I don't know why this matters to me -- but it's fuckin' history, man. I should knowthis stuff, you know?
So what are you going to do about it?
I'm not sure, but maybe I could listen to the news a little more.
Where do you get your news? Just radio? How about television?
I never got one of those digital box thingys. I have a little 13-inch TV but I don't get, like, news channels. I can't afford to buy a TV. And if I could afford it I would buy a car stereo instead.
I read the New York Times, but I don't read it regularly. I used to, after 9/11. I need to do that again.
I know. It's hard. But it's good to know what's going on in the world.
Because you live in the world.
Oh, Yeah. I can see that. But will it lead to more songs?