Clarity on Transformation

Twice of late I’ve had moments of clarity about myself and my music.  As I keep up this adventure, I thought these were worth sharing and hearing back from you on.

The first happened at a traffic light as I was driving back to Raytown from packing up the studio from the Sally Ride sessions at Matt’s last week.  Under the red signal, I caught myself thinking “I’m a different person than I was two weeks ago when I started this.  I feel noticably different.  Older.  More complex.  Like I’ve been on a journey somewhere completely new.”  As I recognized that thought, I realized that I always feel that way after making a record.  I’ve also felt it after closing musicals in high school, and big concerts that I’d spent a lot of time preparing for.

On the heels of that realization was the Something New; that transformation is why I make records.  It’s the reason.  Not the finished product, not recognition (obviously!), not even for the sake of art.  Before it all, I make records because it changes me, and I always want that.


Last Friday night, I played a set of Tape/echoes stuff for the church conference I was at; a late-night “afterglow”-type event.  Joe Rowley joined me on djembe, dropping his rhythms behind complex songs he had never heard before.  If you’ve played with me before, or seen a friend coping with my changes for the first time, you know Joe’s brave, and he killed.  The set was five or six Ventura songs, followed by a cover from every decade of the rock era (’50s – present), and closed by “Where Did I Go Wrong?,” “Race Car Driver,” and two more Ventura tunes.

After the show, as we were packing up our instruments, Joe told me that he could really see my “true self” in the Ventura songs (the “true self” language relates to the main speaker at the conference – I might like the Quaker “inner Light” even better).  It took his outside (but now partly inside!) eyes to show me how true that is.  Not that my other music isn’t “true” – but Sally Ride, h&s, and other things have all been more like parts of me blown up or put under a microscope.  That works, and I like it.

But Ventura spilled out of me unbidden, and as I sing the songs back I’m a little shocked at how true they are, in the sense that they represent, and require, my whole self showing up to write and perform the songs.

I ought to do more playing like last weekend.  Because of busy schedules with 5*C and recording as quickly as possible, I can’t say that it will happen.  When I’m 35 and spent (hopefully not, but it’s a fear), at least I’ll have this record of my inner Light speaking its truth to love, loss, life, death, and a trip from New Jersey to California.  -h