A couple of days ago I heard that Texas folksinger Steve Earle was coming to town and playing at a tavern near our place. I've rarely gone out these past 3 years, which my old friends can attest to, but I had an epiphany
Sunday night and realized I need to get out to see some music more often. Even if it costs me my hard earned cash, from giving guitar lessons.
Epiphanies come in multiple doses, so if you don't get it the first time you might get it the third. I can point to several instances this week and they come from odd angles (er, angels). I read some interview quote from Guy Richie, Mr Ex-Madonna saying his wife was an "Number one Manifester". Manifester? Wow, what a word, I haven't heard talk like that since the New Age-isms of the 1970s. But it's a good word for what some folks can do.
So I asked myself,...what have I "manifested". These past six years since Paul's memory began to fail and his body began to slow and bend, like a battery operated doll winding down, I have put all of my Manifesting powers into trying to fix him, to not much avail, and then to find help and a nursing home for him . So I did it! It took alot of Manifesting really.
I went to New York City last year and met with friends of Paul's that wanted to help us, they put up the donation website for Paul ....www.paulwilliams.com which generated enough money from Paul's fans and friends to help us get him into the home he's in now. All these wonderful friends helping us out, it has been remarkable. And if you are one of them, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
After the Manifesting thoughts, I thought If I can do that for Paul maybe I can help myself in some way. That's when I realized that getting back to playing my own music and maybe earning a few new fans of the new songs wasn't utterly hopeless.
Here's where Steve Earle comes in. I decided on Monday that I really needed to go to that show. I know his music to some extent, but I've mostly been listening to his new album of all Townes Van Zandt songs. And its very good. I've turned on a few friends to its particular charms.
Steve Earle got to know Townes when he was a teenager growing up in east Texas, apparently Townes went to a show of his and heckled the young Earle with "play Wabash Cannonball!" between songs. Until at last Earle admitted he didn't know it, then proceeded to play Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold. A complex song, by Van Zandt, that is essentially a riddle asking the listener to guess what card game is being played.
I went backstage and gave Steve a copy of Paul's "Dylan: Performing Artist" book and talked to him a bit about finger-picking. I said "How fortunate for you to have had such a great mentor as Townes". But later I realized that the fortune was mostly Townes for having Earle as a torch bearer, carrying on his vision and songs well after his death.
In these past few days I've come to realize there is hope. As Paul once told me, early in our relationship, I am a doubter. It's true. I doubt until I'm shown what's real. I even often expect the worse. And that I believe is something I learned from having a mother die on me at age eight.
Maybe my music will one day have it's own Steve Earle. Someone that can carry those songs to a place I can't see.
I had a conversation with a music friend a few weeks back and we were assessing and complaining about the music industry and how it's so easy for a songwriter to feel unsupported. I told him that after I write a cycle of songs, get them on an album and get it out to the public it's hugely deflating to see that baby go unnoticed, which makes it hard to get it up for another set of new songs.
Here's where my inflated ego comes in handy. I admit to having a voice that takes some getting used to (so does Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Steve Earle etc), and I'm not reeling off astounding licks on my guitar at Van Halen speeds, and I don't have big budget sounding production. I do have songs that I can listen to a decade later and still believe in. I can put them up next to any number of my peers (Alejandro Escovedo, Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, etc) and still feel great about them. And that is the thing that keeps me writing again. (Of course it certainly helps when someone writes a fan letter).
And now, it is time to write another collection of songs. Where they end up nobody knows. But I've got four new ones already and an inflated ego and I'm a Manifester.