Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Doubter and the Manifester

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     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


  1. So stoked to find your blog. I'm a huge fan of the Garage Orchestra stuff and we went to school together. We've actually talked before a couple times at your shows and when you worked at the bookstore in Hillcrest. Anyways, I'm feeling like a stalker now. Just wanted to say hi and so glad I found your blog and really stoked that you are writing songs again. Me too, in a weird direction that I'd never thought I'd take. Take care,


  2. You are manifestly magnificent.
    Know that you have fans out there (out here?) and keep on rockin.
    Michele and Alan

  3. You go girl. Write up a symphony.The time is write!
    ....If you need a fan letter than consider this one. Rock on... Roll on.. write on... Right on!!

  4. What Frisky said. We are better in this world for all of your music AND your writings and your willingness to be wide open to complete inner scrutiny. You have as many gems inside as you care to spend the time polishing and letting out. We are grateful.

    Larry G.

  5. Still amazing after all these years, you are.


  6. This is a heartwarming and inspiring post. It has been quite a while since I have seen a great musician play in a club myself. I did just pick up the DVD "Heartworn Highways," though. It has some great footage of Townes as well as of Steve Earle back when he had a two pack habit and a motel tan. Steve is a great spokesman both for fellow musicians and for worthy political causes. He and Madonna are both great examples as "manifesters" for us all.

  7. I continually preach the Berryhill Gospel to my electro-disciples. It's a body of work that has proven itself timeless, and filled with real-life observations that bear the fruit of gained wisdom. I wish I could lift you into a different reality where accidents never happened, and you were rewaded with the gifts that your talent & kindness justify.
    That said, I will always be there for you and your music in this existence, and tremble with excitement whenever I hold a new offering from you in my grasp. For what it's worth...

  8. Well, you just answered your own question. You said "I am a doubter" - isn't that a form of manifestation in itself? Now if you tweak the attitude just a little bit, to believing more fully in your talents and your self, then you may be pleasantly surprised at how fast and furious the positive manifestations start pouring in. We are always manifesting the situations in our lives, whether "good" or "bad," so why not concentrate on the good stuff?

  9. Hi, Cindylee,

    I got word through your e-mail lists about your husband and there were a couple of fundraisers up here in San Francisco. I am sorry to have missed them.

    But one thing I wasn't sorry about was that you're out there and you've got such wonderful support from brilliant people. I am also very glad to catch your words and wit through your blog here--so it’s almost like hearing your music through paragraphs on a computer screen.

    If you ever come up again, I hope I'm still on that mailing list. And, if you decide to tour in the UK somewhere I'll make seeing you as an excuse. I've never been.

    I've got "Straight Outta of Marysville" that you signed in San Diego around 96. The little backstory for this is that I was on a blind date with a guy and we saw you. He was a big fan of you. I realized that I had crushes on blondes and was glad you signed it. A few years later, I stopped having blind dates with men.

    Anyhow, it's the only CD in my collection that isn't scratched up--and I do play it a lot. Maybe it’s the resiliency.

    Please continue writing--would love to see something manifested from all this time and space your in with your son and husband. I am hoping all the good.

    Things change and take turns like a rams' horn. The beautiful thing that manifests is the details that come about when it first develops.


  10. for me i can say that your songs have been soundtrack spurts for in my life here and there between 1988 to present. i stumbled on to "Who's Gonna Save the World" by accident and bought it blindly based on the cover photo thinking "she has something to say" --- after hearing the album i immediately bought "Naked Movie Star" and have been a lifelong fan ever since. Each album of yours has been a part of my life in some form or another over the years and certain songs mark parts of my life so i can look back on and appreciate the memories from then. I love when fate just makes you stumble upon things for whatever reason. since then i've been able to introduce your songs to other friends that have also become fans --- at some point when i eventually write my autobiography i will love to be able to label chapters of my life with song titles or record album titles from various artists such as you!

    so thank you in advance!! :)

  11. I agree with you, it is your manifester's destiny to express yourself via words and music. Live music has always healed my soul and inspired me like no other form of entertainment. The Chuck E. Weiss Trio Sunday nights at Highland Grounds in the early 90's was my sanctuary. The Garage Orchestra and your music have always moved me. Why do I have the name Gary Handeman etched into my consciousness? You have high jumped over many obstacles on your journey and you can still do it. You have reached out into many living rooms with your blog. I look forward to hearing your new songs and reading more about you here.