10 years ago today, a few of my heroes returned from what had once looked like a bleak, terminal split in 2004. It ended up being a reset button on four individuals’ lives (and many others’), a chance to cut corroded bonds and redefine the meaning of the story. We make these opportunities for ourselves each day. That’s one thing I’ve learned in the last 10 years.
I like to think that the story is still being felt out incrementally and shared with anyone who happens to tune in and contribute to the great arc. “Set your soul free,” and all that. In this, the music, to me, is a lens for the good fundamentals of life. Humor; mindful irreverence; bone-deep education of your craft; swings and misses, home runs and strike-outs; the very impermanence of our station—not to mention the necessity of dance. It’s all there in the book.
10 years now! Think of everything that’s happened! Life chugging onward, replacing the future with the past, flipping backward through the doors and through the windows. And still the music never stopped, right?
Countless hours spent happily over those swirling years—my 20s, mostly—just listening, taking notes, obsessively charting the history of one song against another. It’s a language encoded onto each passing moment, each exchange with the world around me. And it’s not always the high-brow schlock I’m making it out to be: Sometimes, you’ve just gotta get extremely high and wander around Madison Square Garden, listening to the echoes of something that’s created again and again with great friends. That’s important too.
“I think that this exact thing happened to me—just last year!”
At the 3/6/09 show—note the tidy trimeter in that in fabled date—in Hampton, Va., they opened with Fluffhead. Brought us back to the root of the thing.
Take a moment to relish the sound of joy in the crowd—the ecstatic roar!—the waves of tear-stained hugs blooming into memories staged in a long and complicated relationship with perhaps the greatest American rock ‘n’ roll band there ever was. Just the first two minutes in that video, even—listen to the exhalation. I don’t mean to make a mountain out of a mole hill here, but this is some real-deal historical magnitude for so many wonderful people I’ve been fortunate to meet along the way. People who have set to work on creating long-standing art and social networks. To cleave faithfully to something greater, something beyond the scope of our day-sized compartments—family, justice, history, a mindful resistance to dogma—this is the outward ripple of a human life lived. To have lived! Imagine! Music, surely, is a playful soundtrack to the hard work of finding ourselves in all that racket. I’m grateful for the whole trip.
There’s an old one-liner that maybe you’ve heard on lot before a show. It goes like this:
“My favorite version of Tweezer is the sound of my family laughing.”
HA HA HA
The music is just a reverberation of something else, some ancient energy buzzing in our hearts and spinning a soul from the thick fog of the past. When it hits, you feel no pain.
Happy Ass Handed Wednesday, folks.