Before I get into the bulk of what I want to say, I want to describe something that happened to me today. I was walking from one part of the office to another and I reached back and scratched my head. It hurt. It felt like I was shoving something metallic into the back of my skull, but then I rubbed it a little faster and it went away, though I was left with a weird feeling for a while. There was no blood and it didn’t happen again, so I dismissed it…but now that same area feels kind of — don’t know how to describe it — but “weighty,” like my hair’s too heavy or something. I can’t feel any bumps or abrasions. It’s just weird. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s 3 a.m. and I just woke up thinking about it. Anyone know what that could POSSIBLY be???
Anyway, the main thing I wanted to write about is that my friend Jon over at Bits & Pieces gave me some free promotion today and said some really nice stuff about me. (His website’s pretty popular. If you haven’t gone over and checked him out, you should. It’s a really addictive page. Fair warning, though. Sometimes NSFW — but not too often.) He promoted Blue Tattoo’s upcoming gig at The Chapel (this weekend) and then said the following stuff:
I’ll never forget the first time I saw Derek play. The Derek I knew away from music was very quiet and shy… he could probably be called an introvert. He would talk to you, but you kind of had to pry a conversation out of him. Anyway, the first time I saw him perform was at a bar in downtown St. Louis. Derek’s dad got some friends together to go and see Derek and his band play. I was flabbergasted at this young man as he cavorted across the stage singing and flirting with the crowd. The music was a little too harsh to my liking, (not sure if it was heavy metal or very hard rock), but I was energized by his energy and outgoing style. It took several hours before I could hear normally again.
I have one of his CD’s (Things I Meant To Say) and it has very different (and good) music on it, which tells me he’s quite the talented musician.
That was really nice. I didn’t ask him to promote us and he was absolutely no obligation to either say anything about the band or about me.
Thing is, I read stuff like that and it makes me feel good, but I also kind of do some quick self-appraisal. For the record, I’m largely STILL quiet and shy. I can be very much an introvert. I speak my mind when I feel I have to and/or when I’m in an environment in which I’m “comfortable…” But I’m the type of guy that, even though I’m loud and just short of nuts on the stage, off stage I’m most likely to sit with a good friend or with one of the other guys in the band than to be “networking” and meeting new people. Or at work, I’ll occasionally eat downstairs in the Cafeteria…but only if I see one of the people I regularly eat with. Otherwise I’m much more likely to eat in my office. Even at family functions, I’ll joke around and have a great time with my brother or my dad, but I clam up a little if one of the relatives I don’t see all the time comes over. It’s only when I either have a spotlight or when I know there’s no chance of there being a big commotion that I come out of my shell.
As Johnny Rotten once said, “I’m naturally very shy. I just deal with it remarkably well.” I get on stage or into a comfortable place (like my office or among my friends) and I’m talkative, entertaining, and fun to be around (I hope). But I need something of a push to get me there. It’s not immediate. I’ve actually had to work quite hard to overcome my shyness. This, of course, is something you’d never know if you’re just one of my blog-readers…I babble like an idiot here…but who on the Internet doesn’t?
I should say though that the times that I’m on stage and I’m behaving like an idiot are the times I feel most like myself. Even when I was working in a church regularly…I was getting to play guitar every week (nearly) and fell into being comfortable with that setting. So for the 20-30 minutes of worship leading, I felt basically like myself — not able to curse, of course…but nonetheless, basically like myself! Then that — ahem — ended. But that’s all ancient history. I don’t know what it is…but I’m at my best and most natural when there’s a performance involved. A lot of people had/have that. Noted famous introverts (other than Johnny Rotten) include Peter Sellers (actor, “Pink Panther” movies and “Being There”), Hugh Laurie (actor, “House MD” and “Jeeves and Wooster”), Brian Wilson (Beach Boys), and Charlie Watts (Rolling Stones).
Of that group, Peter Sellers often spoke of his feeling that he was an empty-person…a non-entity…until he absorbed the script and became that person. Then you saw him. Hugh Laurie says of his shyness that he simply “doesn’t trust” success, so he doesn’t want anyone to make a big deal of it — that the minute he starts to believe in it, it will be taken away. (I’ve also heard him claim that it’s not the “British way” to be outgoing in your personal life.) Brian Wilson for a very long time pretty much developed a social disorder that made him something of a recluse (there is speculation that it was largely brought on by drugs). …and Charlie Watts, of course, is simply made out of a tree.
I don’t know if I’m any of that. I may be a little of all of it. Whatever it is…Jon’s assessment is very, very right. I’m a very shy person, but I open up on stage. (I should note that this is not always true of my performances with the Feldman Group that stretch over four hours in bars. Sometimes I’m just trying to hold myself together long enough to get over my conflicted emotions about contributing to the addictions of those present, as is documented elsewhere on the blog, so I won’t go into it here.) The thing is, even if I’m only playing for ten minutes…for that ten minutes, you get the real me.
Hmm…this whole thing started as me just wanting to say thanks to Jon and tell you all to check out his site…and yet I accomplished so much more! 🙂
Thanks for reading all that.
George W. Bush Picture of the Day (7 days remaining in term):
This is Bush giving a unsolicited back-rub to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, back in 2006.
I haven’t seen a German look that uncomfortable since Grace Slick goose-stepped onto stage in Frankfurt and asked the crowd “So…who won the war?” back in 1978.