Ready to Bloom


There was something in my cells, waiting
Patiently for the notes of your voice
Living silently with no air in the dark
Listening through the blizzard of white noise

Something beautiful is ready to bloom

There is sunlight trapped inside what you bring
A soul in every stone, a dream for the waking

Something beautiful is ready to bloom
And what was buried there will be renewed

There’s a tide rolling between you and me
Traveling deep through the earth, endlessly

Something beautiful is ready to bloom
And what was buried there will be removed

The pandemic broke my brain. I lost my father, I lost my business, and I went into a tailspin. Some people, apparently, drifted through the pandemic like it wasn’t happening. I was not one of those people.

However, it turns out, a broken brain can be fixed. Better than before, even. No shit? Yeah shit.

Now. With a few notable exceptions I hadn’t written anything since 2012. Or better to say, I hadn’t written anything that turned me on. I had been in a few bands in the early 2000s, started a record label, toured the country a few times, and I figured in my current role as a father and husband and business owner and otherwise responsible adult, that facet of my life was over. Add the trauma of the pandemic, and I had pretty much given up. On many things.

So. My broken brain. Not quite post-pandemic but pretty close, I had finally, thankfully, blessedly, caught Covid and recovered, been deemed immune for 60 days, and ventured out into the world for the first time in a few years to re-meet friends I’ve had for decades. GBV at Irving Plaza with the ole gang, guys and girls I had met while seeing the band in NYC in the 90s. I figured I would slip right back into action. However I quickly realized I couldn’t remember names of songs I loved, people I knew, or even bands I had been in. When the first notes to familiar songs rang out, I didn’t recognize them.

It was terrifying. I thought I was having a stroke. I think of it now as a tunnel: there was a vague, distant light from which clarity beckoned, but there was no signal where I was, and all the synaptic communication that would normally occur instantaneously was either delayed or just not getting out. Eventually, as the night progressed, I emerged from the tunnel. I don’t give myself much credit for breaking through on my own. Maybe it was being in a “normal” setting again, or hearing so many songs I associated with the before-times, maybe it was the mosh pit (it was probably the mosh pit); but I was able to finally surface and most significantly realize I had been living in that tunnel for far too long, and what a gift it was to have even a fairly conventional sense of perception. Amen.

Weeks and months of therapy and medication followed, and helped to truly right the ship. Moving on.

So. This song. Following that experience, I had a lyrical idea about dormant cells, waiting for a signal to re-awaken. The signal: a song? Too on the nose. A vibration? Vague. A voice? Better. Maybe it’s a lover, a mother, a messiah, a penguin calling to its chick across an Antarctic ice sheet, or an obscure, aging, indie-rock demi-god come to earth with the pipes of an angel; one can see it any number of ways, interpret it into one’s own shit. Much better. At the time I was commuting to my first post-pandemic job — or as I like to think of it now, the daily drive to the denouement of my former life — and having Siri take audio notes. I saved it there. I liked it. I had taken many notes before, which I quickly forgot. This one stuck.

Other imagery I was toying with at the time: I had recently finished Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, and the final scene of Don Gately coming to on a beach with the tide way out…whew. The inevitability of tides, the impartiality of the earth, the universe; but inside a person, flowing through a person, and who they find and love; when it is fate, destiny, meant to be, and when indeed it is, that it is as natural and inexorable and immutable as anything else natural, incalculably stronger when it’s between two people who have the real thing, true, down to the core of the earth; a mountain, running so deep and wide it follows you and connects you where ever you go.

The main chord was your basic E-minor fingering formation, but up on the 7th fret. Paul Simon would know what the chord is called. Whatever it is, its jangly, slightly sour, dissonant tone got me. Could have been that time of day. When a lyric or a chord gets me like that, that’s the shit, pal.

So now I had a lyrical idea and a guitar chord, both of which were exciting in a way lyrics and guitar chords had not excited me in a decade, and from somewhere, I had the motivation to thread them all together. I just hung on and workshopped it. I had forgotten that I knew how to do that, the method to making art, and calling the muse; that might sound hippy-dippy but I will probably talk about it in some other post, god willing. This is crucial: you can’t wait for the muse/inspiration. I think most people confuse that with writers block, when they wait for inspiration to hit. I certainly have. You must sit down with what you have, even if you have nothing, and work. The muse will come if you earn it. Inspiration as a bolt from the blue is vastly overrated, and I don’t know if anyone knows what inspiration truly means anymore and how to use it. Inspiration is just the first step of many, and hardly a guarantee of anything. This maybe a little too inside my own head, but hey, we’re blogging here, let’s go.

I do everything in Garageband on an imac, using a Scarlett box; a generic, no-name bass; a Gibson Studio 335 with no f-holes, and the fuzzed out guitar on this track was played on my daughter’s 3/4 Ibanez. All the drums are the Garageband “drummer.” You can spend a whole day, easy, finessing drums in GB, but it’s worth it if you have the time. I don’t know how to EQ or compress things yet so I’m sure there’s a lot of clipping. But not bad for a demo.

Here’s an early take on my iphone, when I was scared shitless the idea would leave my head like a dream.

I don’t tell myself narratives anymore, but that this was the first song in a long time that the muse kinda handed to me on a platter (or I handed to myself, however you prefer to see it), well, that feels good. And so far, since then, whatever block I had put on myself has lifted. Way better than before in that regard. No more waiting, y’know?



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