My relationship with Hollywood is somewhat fraught. I lived there off and on for nine years. I had little bits of success. Enough to keep me coming back, but not enough to make me pull up stakes in my beloved Washington DC and fully commit to LA. I had a great place there that I shared with a director. It was up in the Hollywood Hills and we had a view of the entire Los Angeles Basin that was nothing short of fabulous. But if I was there for more than two weeks at a time that view used to haunt me. How could I look out at 7 million people and not have more than three people that I cared to talk to? I am making it sound more depressing than it was. Although I will share my favorite description of Hollywood with you. Standing above the scene inside Loews Santa Monica Hotel -looking down at the sprawling LA film festival crowd, my old friend Ray remarked: ” Behold, an ocean of C minus students” .
I finally gave it up about 10 years ago. What a wonderful, light freedom it was to give up on Hollywood. I can still remember walking over the “lion bridge ” here in Washington and wondering why I felt so good. And figuring out that I finally did not have to think about Los Angeles any more.
Hollywood is now like a bad, old girlfriend to me. You know, the one – when you see her at a party… you say to yourself ” Man, she looks good! – why did I ever leave her?” And as soon as you talk to her it all comes back to you. I’m heading to LA in an hour. Ready to face my old, bad girlfriend of a city. And I am sure that when I get there…. She will look so fine.
What an amazing time that was. To be 9 years old. You are generally allowed, even encouraged , to occasionally be as enthusiastic and as loud as you can possibly be.
The North Chevy Chase Elementary 4th grade invited me back to listen to them sing ” 43 Good Excuses”. This time I came prepared. Sue and her trusty flip cam came along. The video is sooooooo cute. Their teacher, Jacqui, is incredibly cool. And they respond by being the hippest little people on the planet. My own memories of 4th grade revolve around Mrs. Blackburn at Maury Elementary, who referred to me only “Loudmouth” for the entire year. Happily, that singular trait of being VERY LOUD, has been part and parcel of my entire career. It has at times made a broken PA a non-event. It has made public speaking an easy thing for me to do. It has gotten the quick attention of three unruly children. And it made me unconditionally love the sound of a Marshall stack turned up to ‘pulverize’.
Chaise Lounge just came off two wonderful gigs. A concert at Black Rock Performing Arts Center. And then this Saturday at The Hamilton. The Hamilton was amazing. To use a sports analogy : we left it all on the field. It is an amazing feeling to know, and to know deeply, that you gave the crowd everything you had: every bit of skill, every bit of emotion, and the sum total of all the arranging, re-arranging and rehearsal that, over years, add up to a good song and a good performance. People say it all the time, but that makes it no less true, that what you get back from the audience, if you are tuned in, is more than you have given. We played for nearly 400 attentive ( meaning sometimes screaming and sometimes lost in a wash of emotion) fans. It feels funny to say “fans”. I just think of them as lots of folks I know,… even when I don’t know them at all. That’s the way it feels. There are only six of us in the band. We were hopelessly out-numbered. We put out only six people’s worth of music, but we got 400 peoples vibes coming back at us. The wave of musical joy and satisfaction that swept back over us after each song was palpable. Every gig is different. But I hope we can get somewhere close to this feeling every time.
Yesterday I had a Skype session with the Clemson University orchestra, courtesy of Dr. Andrew Levin. They are playing “The Blue Chevrolet”
What totally surprising questions! One question that a cellist asked: “What are your thoughts on translating memory into music?” He was not referring to songwriting or anything with lyrical content, He was talking about the completely abstract orchestral piece that they are playing. A far more difficult question. Yes, “The Blue Chevrolet” is unabashedly autobiographical. But I have never been so confronted by the clear evidence of this process, and my nearly complete lack of understanding of how I do this. There is probably a very good doctoral thesis in just that one question. Maybe abstract painters have a better handle on this? I wish I could have come up with a slick answer to this. As it is, I will be thinking about this for the next three years. I will get back to you on this.
I wish I could be there to hear the performance. Good luck to the orchestra and thank you again to Maestro Levin for playing this.