Satellite’s Gone, Up to the Skies…

It’s midnight and I’m exhausted but I can tell I won’t be getting to sleep any time soon.  And Lou Reed died and all I want to do is talk about how important his music is to me, but it keeps sounding either like I’m trying too hard not to reference “Walk on the Wild Side” for fear of sounding like a poser, or way TOO genuine to the point of people saying, “Dude, it’s not like you KNEW him.”

But here’s the thing…I goddamn LOVE Lou Reed, and less than 12 hours since hearing about it, I miss him.  I DIDN’T know him, but I miss him.  There are a handful of artists I’ve come across that have shaped who I am as a musician, writer, and person.  If I had to do a top ten, it’d look something like this (in random order–probably with a few variable ones):

  1. Pete Townshend
  2. Johnny Cash
  3. Joey Ramone
  4. David Bowie
  5. Neil Young
  6. Frank Black/Black Francis
  7. Rich Mullins
  8. Aimee Mann
  9. Leonard Cohen
  10. …and Lou Fucking Reed.

His music takes me into a different place in myself that I forget is there until I hear his songs.  It’s not a comfortable place, it’s not a fun place, it’s maybe not even always a healthy place…but it’s an important one.  And it’s sad to know that there’s not going to be new music taking me there from now on.

I’m a better writer because of Lou Reed.  I’m a better thinker, too.  I mean that musically and personally…

I was in the car at a stoplight and I glanced at my Facebook account on the phone.  That’s how I found out–illegally, which I think is fitting.  Also fittingly, I’d earlier (on the way in to church, no less) been listening to the “Lulu” collaboration he did with Metallica a couple years ago.  I immediately turned off the stereo and began observing musical silence.   I do not know when I plan to turn it back on.  When a voice that means this much to you is silenced, sometimes the quiet needs to reverberate a while.

…but God damn it, Lou…  You left right when I needed you.

An open letter to churches who cancel services for sporting events.

I don’t know if that happens everywhere else…but I’m in St. Louis and the Cardinals are in the World Series, and my Facebook feed is littered with minister-friends canceling their Wednesday services in favor of the game. So this is to them…

Dear Churches:

Just what in the fuck do you think you are doing? Shame on you. You have the most important message in the world, and you have members of your church who desperately need to hear it. Yet you are closing your doors in the era of DVR and smart phones, when those who are interested in the game could easily keep track.

To be clear, I’m not trying to fault anybody for wanting to see the game. If an individual decides to skip church (or anything, really) in favor of watching a ball game or whatever’s your idol (mine is music and yes I’m a hypocrite), I totally understand and support their right to do so. However, I do not support it on the corporate level of the Church. I think it’s disgraceful and frankly I’m ashamed of my friends who are pulling that shit.

Consider this, Church… You’re concerned with where people will spend their eternity. Important message, yeah? And yet when you close your doors, you are communicating not only that the ball game is more important than that message on that night…you’re communicating something much more damning. You’re communicating that your message is also less important than the message of all of the secular businesses that STAYED OPEN. Your message is less important than Walmart’s. Less important than the grocery store. Less important than the mall. Less important than the movie theatre. Less important than the porno-store. They all welcomed anyone in who needed them during the game. And where were you, again? Up to your ass in peanuts and cracker jacks on your couch.

Shame. On. You.

Look… I’m not an idiot. I know your numbers will be down. I know some of you will be sitting in a room alone or with only one other guy listening to the game yourself on the radio because no one showed up. I know you’ll be frustrated by that…

But I also know that some of your membership is desperately lonely, desperately depressed, and they’re so despondent that they don’t know where to turn in the Bible, so they’re not opening it at all, instead hoping they’ll get some flicker of hope at their Wednesday night prayer meeting. And you closed…your fucking…doors.

And that’s on YOU.

I only say all of this because I love you and I hate to see you going astray, Church. And that’s what you’re doing. I’m sorry. But it IS.

Cue long line of excuses…

-Derek, the Soon to be Shunned

So I Had a Gig…

So I had a solo gig this past weekend. It was the first one since my “I’m thinking of quitting” fiasco. So I probably need to address that to some extent.

Ah… I’m not quitting. I had some conversations with people a lot more reasonable and intelligent than me and I’ve seen the errors in my previous thinking. Mea culpa. Maxima mea culpa. And my thanks to those who got me through it. I failed to recognize that the bad place I was in had less to do with music than with some personal issues and I overreacted. There. We good?

Now… The gig.

It went pretty well, I think. I did mostly new material. Had about 15 people show up (in a Christian coffee house with no booze, that’s like having filled Wembley). Good friends there that night. And family. Even my uncle showed up, which I was not expecting.

I opened the evening. Just me and my guitar. Played about 30 minutes. I was followed by Remnant, who were much more Rock based. They gave me a shout-out from the stage more than once. Nice folks. The night was closed by Mike Rimmey, who I’d actually shared a stage with before when I was playing bass in the Michael Feldman Group. Traded a couple war stories and bought his CD. Good to see him again. He writes great songs.

It was a sort of different set for me. As I said, I did mostly new material along with a cover of Queen’s “I Want to Break Free” and Larry Norman’s “Six Sixty Six.” The new stuff is kind of soul bearing. I mean…I guess it always is…but I’m intentionally going deeper than I have before, even making myself uncomfortable at times. “The Ring I Almost Gave Her” is a prime example of that–and it’s the one people keep talking to me about. I’m pleased with that.

In “The Ring…” I make reference to my mom, who died 19 years ago this month…and this seems as good a time as any to tell this story… I visited Mom’s grave on the anniversary of her death this year–first time I’ve ever done that. I was surprised and unprepared to see the sunflower someone left there for her. She loved sunflowers. I don’t know who left it, but it made me grateful. I guess I stayed about 15 minutes just kinda talking to Mom about things that are going on and stuff that had me down–even after 19 years without her, sometimes a guy just still needs his mom… After I was done, I said a small prayer and sat down on a stone column they have there for a moment to collect myself. And it started raining. I wasn’t prepared for that either, and I’m torn on if it meant anything.

…but that’s why I decided I was doing that song this weekend, I think.

It has been a weird couple of weeks. I think this gig was important for me to do for a few reasons. It went well and it felt good and people were really encouraging–especially my brother who said, “That was some of your best songwriting.” I won’t soon forget that–he’s heard most of it, after all.

I don’t know when I’ll get the chance to do that again. But I guess the important part is that I want to. And I wouldn’t have called that two weeks ago.

Set List:
Slip Away
Pretty Much the Story of My Life
Of Death & Dying
I Want to Break Free (Queen Cover)
The Ring I Almost Gave Her
Six Sixty Six (Larry Norman Cover)
Born in this Town
Immortal

Guitar Used: Parkwood acoustic.

Thanks to everybody who was there.

This is How I Keep Going…

On my lunch break today, completely inexcusably, I jotted the following phrase on the top of a notepad:

“Ideas for Flavors of Tea Aimed at the Clinically Depressed.”

This is the resulting list. This was…way too easy…

  • Suicidal Honeysuckle
  • Cherry-Vanilla Disappointment
  • Sleepy-All-Day (Brand)
  • Green with Regrets
  • Peach-Mango Failure
  • Shame-omile
  • Irish Remorse
  • Godless Boysenberry
  • Peppermint Resentment
  • My Parents Didn’t Support Me Honey Lemon
  • Nightmare Pekoe
  • Lingering Sexual Doubts Zinger
  • English Disillusionment
  • Suspicious Raspberry
  • Just-Friends Jasmine
  • Antioxidant Defeat
  • Natural Detox Before Relapse Pear
  • Why, Amanda?
  • Eucalyptus Cold Sweat
  • Staring At Nothing Mint
  • Just a Fuckin’ Hot Glass of Bailey’s
  • Suffering Black Pearl
  • Spiced Worthlessness
  • All I See is Blood Orange
  • Childless Chai
  • Lipton
  • Momentary Darkness Nutmeg
  • I’m Smoking Again Cinnamon
  • Moping Earl Grey

I think it’ll be a relatively easy sell.