Bittersweet 5/7 '20
I sometimes make music with The Rock Orchestra. It's a tribute band. They're good.
On Wednesdays at 7:30pm, they've been hosting watch-parties of professionally-shot, multi-camera videos of some of our live performances... Peter Gabriel... The Who... and tonight was when we performed Bruce Springsteen's first three albums.
I was never a huge Springsteen fan, for no particular reason. But playing that Born to Run album (as I overlook the occasional problematic misogynistic juvenile lyrics) with people I freakin' LOVE, with bravado and swagger, with a horn section, a friggin' old-skool Hammond Organ trucked in... just... wow. We killed it. I had forgotten how much fun it was. (Here's a link to Rosalita. Here's a link to the song Born to Run with my badass glockenspiel.)
But this post isn't about that.
The audience was packed-- it was a sold out show of 700+ people we didn't know. And they were happily buzzed and singing along. Some of the camera angles were shot from the back of the house, over the heads of the revelers standing shoulder to shoulder to strangers, having a blast, connected in that moment of live music. And at one point there were 15 of us on stage once the horn section came on stage... and at times some of us were sharing mics and doing that jubilantly goofy standing-back-to-back "rock move" that sometimes organically happens when musicians are musicking.
And then it hit me.
We can't do that anymore. That was another life. Another world. We may never get back to that until we have a vaccine... and today I read an article in Wired about how this Covid fucker is mutating into something potentially more sinister. Great.
I watched the livestream and cried. I cried with happiness, remembering the joy we experienced on stage.
And then I cried for how much I miss connecting with other people. I cried seeing the audience, and hearing them sing along. I cry at the drop of a hat lately.
Maybe it's PMS. Maybe it's 8 weeks of not leaving my house except for three turbo-fast trips to the grocery store. Maybe it's missing my parents (who are doing fine, by the way). I dunno. Last night was really bad-- I was inconsolably crying and feeling really fucking hopeless for a few hours. I've never felt suicidal in my life, but last night was the first time I could sorta see how someone could maybe feel that way-- it seemed at least.... plausible? Like, fuck it, why bother? (Pleeeeeeease don't read anything into that. I mean it. Do not worry. I am not suicidal, like, at all. I'm totally OK, and was just feeling blue from these shit-ass circumstances.) And honestly, taking a 1/2 xanax and talking to my dad via Duo helped a huge deal. But I'm just saying I could finally see for the first time the darkness that brains have the potential to experience. Jesus.
ANYWAY, now that I've totally ruined the mood... let's forget all that and talk about happier stuff.
1) I have bird feeders outside my kitchen window and I love how we have a cast of regulars who visit every day. We have a pair of sparrows, four mourning doves, a pair of cardinals (though the male visits more often), a fat squirrel, and we had our first crow the other day, but I haven't seen him back. (As an aside: My dream is to have a crow or raven decide to be my friend. I subscribe to waaaay too many raven/crow channels on YouTube.)
2) We are still doing our thrice-weekly 15-minute Hot Breakfast CoffeeBreak Concerts at 3pm EDT on our Facebook page. Our production values have gone up a smidge... we have "hold music" as we wait for people to arrive, and Matt labors over the signs we put up as a placeholder before each show. I love his silly design aesthetic.
Today was concert #17, which I kinda can't believe. We haven't repeated a song yet, which is kind of a fun challenge. Today we did only covers... we did one somber tune to acknowledge the sadness in the air that seems to be weighing everyone down ("Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd, of course)... and then we played "Squeezebox" by The Who because it's our friend Kevin's favorite song and he was having a rough go of it and we wanted to cheer him up. Then we went full-on dork with Pac Man Fever, and we finished chipper with a Daydream Believer singalong. Original songs are great and all, but sometimes you just wanna hear songs you recognize, y'know?
When we originally decided to do these concerts, we said we'd do them until May 15th, which was the arbitrary end-of-the-lockdown date the Governor of Delaware picked way back in March. It doesn't look like things will reopen by then, or maybe a few things will soft-open, I dunno... so I'm not sure if we should bother still doing them after May 15th. Lots of people write to us and thank us sincerely for doing them, saying it really helps to have things on their calendar a few days a week. The comraderie that has built up among the regular attendees in the chat windows is so, so glorious to see. It's really fun seeing new friendships being formed among the viewers.
In the beginning these livestreams were easy because we had our standard material that we've played a billion times and didn't really have to think about. But now we are deeeeeeep in the super-deep-cuts of our original songs... stuff we've only played live once or twice, and/or learning new cover songs the night before the livestream. We try to have some kind of theme, and we try to put little easter eggs around our performance space, though we're not sure if the camera can always pick 'em up. These are definitely good for us to do. I'm grateful to have deadlines since I have no other work.
(Though I did teach my first vocal coaching session via Zoom yesterday, which was cool... but it was a favor for a friend's kid who has an audition coming up.)
3) In other news: Every Saturday the PhilaDels have been having Zoom hangouts; sometimes we play Cards Against Humanity or Pictionary, and other times we just shoot the shit. I've "seen" my PhilaDels more in the last 8 weeks than I have in the last 2-3 years combined. So I guess there is a silver lining in this.
4) In other, other news: Since the general rule is that you can't gather in groups of 10 or more... what's preventing anyone from having a small group of masked people over to our backyard on a nice weekend day, standing a reasonable distance apart, just to shoot the shit and eat a burger (carefully, being mindful of the mask and drool)? Do we have to be THIS isolated?
5) Matt and I have only left the house thrice for quick shopping trips, like I mentioned... and when we do, we have ridiculously complex and hella overkill decontamination processes as we bring ourselves and our purchases into the house. I am confident we are virus-free. With that, we are thiiiiiiiinking about visiting my parents this weekend. They also have not left the house except for a few quick shopping trips. Mom is clearly getting worse, surely due to understimulation... but Dad actually seems to be doing a lot better now that the weather is warming up and he's healthy again, and now on a low-dose antidepressant which has made him a new guy. They are more than comfy with us coming up... the room we sleep in up there hasn't been opened/entered since we were last in it in February. I'm still a teeny bit nervous about going up-- god forbid I somehow am an asymptomatic transmitter... but I don't know how I could have contracted it since I'm so friggin' neurotic about washing, desanitizing, distancing, masking, even wearing goggles in the store, etc. I have a few more days to decide if we're gonna go. It'd be nice to see Mom for Mother's Day. I don't know how many more Mothers Days she'll have where she understands what day it is. The last time Matt and I left the house was April 28th, so we're 8 days isolated. I suppose I could wait an extra week and go up next weekend when we are more than 14 days clear, just to be super-safe. Hmmmm. Thoughts?
Anyway. That's enough outta me for now.
I love you all very much.
Sorry I've been so quiet over here. I am reading what you're all writing. Thank you for writing.
xoxo-- good night!
PS: Hey, anyone hear from Robert Bryan anytime recently, by the way?