Sunday, April 30, 2006


Eagerness to be going

I'm finding that my get-up-and-go tendencies makes sleep hard to come by on the road. Each morning I wake up way too early, eager to jump in my car to the next destination. There's something about this eagerness to be going that I'd like to explore in song...

On Friday, I played Uncommon Ground in Lake View (AKA Wrigleyville) area of Chicago. It was a great show with an enthusiastic audience in a lovely room. One of the most amusing parts of the evening was realizing that there was no more appropriate venue or performance for playing my song "Favorite." "Favorite" was inspired by two things: first, the wedding of my high school boyfriend and, second, an old friend who used to talk nostaligically about his favorite Chicago coffeeshop across the street from his living-roomless apartment that he adopted as his living room. Turns out that that coffeeshop was Uncommon Ground, and that my high school boyfriend's mother, and still a dear friend, was in the audience. For those of you interested in quirky rock (and those of you curious to know more about my high school boyfriend), check out the LA band Captain Automatic. They're about to play at the L.A. readings of the NY Times bestselling author of Indecision, and an old acquaintance of mine, Ben Kunkel.

Between sound check and my 10pm show, I wandered around in the city's legendary wind, past Wrigley Field, and a whole bunch of Cubs fans taking advantage of the many conveniently located bars. I also stopped at an unexpected used book store where I picked up $50 worth of used history books to inspire writing for my Ordinarily Unsung project. The Ordinarily Unsung project is the song cycle I'm writing about members of the fringe in American history. It is, ostensibly, why I'm spending the next six weeks at writing residencies. The books I picked up were about some rather promising fringe characters from history, and I look forward to seeing if any of them pan out into satisfying songs.

Last night I played Iowa City's Yacht Club with my old college buddy, mean blues-guitarist, and otolaryngolist/oncologist/surgical resident at Iowa University, Jonnie Bock. The Yacht Club is a real down-home BBQ joint and bar, and it felt like the kind of place that meant I was really in Iowa City. I've always admired Jon's guitar-playing, and it was quite a milestone for me to play guitar with him on stage. When we were in college, Jon was already a killer guitarist while I could play about three chords. I think Jon taught me chords number four and five. I enjoy those rare moments in life where you come face-to-face with how much you've grown. They are all too uncommon.

I'm still half-disbelieving of the fact that I'm actually in the midwest, and the road signs to Des Moines and Milwaukee catch me unaware, jolting me into the odd reality of physically inhabiting parts of the country that have otherwise been only notional to me. Well, I can now say from experience that Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa are very flat and full of farmland. It's incredible to me as a New Yorker and east coaster to drive a short distance outside of one of the biggest cities in the country to find such unimpeded rural landscape.

Well, today I travel to Minnesota, and tomorrow I drive to New York Mills, another rural landscape where I'll be spending four weeks. It's a new world for this New Yorker. I am interested to see how it changes me.

Hey, darling, thanks for the shout-out. Glad Chicago was good to you. I think I get credit for teaching you chords one and two, right? We had to get at least that far.
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