Uh Oh Here Comes Another One

Every now and then John Mayer, probably in a fit of boredom and mired in a dearth of personal reinforcement via fans (he’s in Montana {and I know this because he said so…}) answers questions on Twitter. This question was about what music put him to sleep at night. The answer was “any Bill Evans ballad.” Well, I’ve listened to a lot of Bill Evans ballads and not only do I not go to sleep, I always burst into heaving, sobbing fits of terminal sadness.

The conclusion I’ve come to, and these conclusions are always subject to revision or repeal, is that I have no filter, and the notes go directly to some lobe of my brain that says I’m dying of sadness. Beauty is death, death beauty. Sophocles. Not really. Janet Malcolm, an intellectual stalwart and student/critic of psychoanalysis, or maybe that devil man psychoanalyst she wrote about, said that reactions like mine are because I want to be the music. Got any solutions to that, Freud?

Our buddy John continued the Twitter q&a. “If a song is honest and true it will protect you.” This, in answer to a question about whether he feels uncomfortable with how “honest” – read revealing – he is in some of his songs, especially the recent ditty crushing his mother and father to eeny teeny little bits of bad-parent coal that he sings about before crowds of millions. So he’s protected by the honesty of his songs but what about poor old mom and dad who after all produced and raised, however inadequately, this genius? Who’s gonna protect them?

But, as Mayer would say, back to me. I would settle for being able to make such beautiful music myself. Yes, I would. Okay, there was a time when I played the cello and there were some who thought I was promising until I played at a competition and forgot – was able to produce nothing in my head but opaque, hideous clouds of vapor – all the notes, beginnings, endings, all of it, and had to leave the living room where this hideous competition was taking place, me and a bunch of judges, and try not to cry until I got outside. It was more or less the end for me of trying to make music.

As an adult I took piano lessons until the teacher suggested I use “all that wonderful weight you have” to make the sound bigger, or fatter or something I never got. So I walked out of that one too. Bad enough not to be able even to manage the “small bites” she suggested learning, one at a time, worse to be told you’re fat but you could theoretically use that to your advantage.

That “baby baby baby” sung in a lusty falsetto by Mayer’s sideman at the beginning of “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” goes straight to my – actually the problem is I don’t know where it goes and what I should do with it when it gets there – maybe to my gut. My soul. My inner me. The place where also lurks existential nightmares of Trump and dead baby mice and multi-faceted phobias that keep me plastered to my chair suffering with the beauty around me and longing for something I’ll never have. How do you get over that?

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