I wonder about how we come to love the things that we love. Music is a thing, isn’t it? It’s this semi tactile, but mostly intangible aspect of my life that I consume rapaciously, often without thought and with so much of myself. Since being laid off and not having to go to some bullshit office so much more of my time is utilized interacting with music. For the last two days all I did was play songs on my acoustic guitar, listening to Lifetime to an almost nauseating degree and think about music.
I was having this conversation with my friend Nolan today about music. We found ourselves in one of those Dungeons and Dragons/Magic the Gathering type stores. I’m not a big fan of these games personally. I tried playing once or twice when I was younger, but they weren’t something I found all that captivating. Nolan and I compared music to this kind of devotion. I’ve met enough music geeks who are also into the D&D, but it’s hard for us to equate the two together. But then we started talking about sports fans. They have this devotion, this outlet that requires absolutely no creative imput. It’s passive, totally passive. I guess it’s possible to make that argument about music, but I am not sure that’s the case. As such, maybe there is some aspect of being a sports fan I don’t understand.
I was lamenting, publicly on a social networking site how I am broke and wished someone would buy me the new albums by Spoonboy and Streeteaters on Plan-It-X. I’m basically broke. Or at least I just can’t buy vinyl anymore. So all my music has to be free, either stolen or through the benevolence of artists. So, firstly, David, thanks so much for putting this up for free. Maybe someone will buy me some records, or maybe I’ll get a job, or maybe I’ll sell a manuscript and get paid and be famous like Bret Easton Elision. Until then, thanks friend.
Instantly, listening to this for the first time today and again, tonight, on a Friday while drinking whiskey and feeling self conscious and a bit depressed, I miss Spoonboy. In a city filled with guarded egos and crossed arms where kids were too cool, David, Spoonboy was a friendly light. I’m not saying people in DC weren’t nice, but they were often times too serious to have fun. But I think David was fun about being serious and serious about fun. He always made me feel included when I was around, and I think he did that for lots of people.
As such, I feel disconnected from this album. I think it’s me because it makes me sad. Spoonboy writes the gut punchers, the hard hitters, the types of songs I want to hear, but are hard to listen to. And so, on his second solo album, there’s a lot of electricity in the way. It’s a big sounding record, one of the biggest I’ve heard coming from David’s musical output, but I feel like I want it even bigger, louder with masses of vocals from all the kids in DC that love Spoonboy.
But for my disconnection, hearing “Sexy Dreams” come crashing down with gritty guitars, popping and pumping and thundering on, the anthem of the song comes out. The anger and frustration really comes alive. Sometimes it just feels like a Max Levine Ensemble song and maybe that’s what I want here. I’m getting confused, that separation isn’t as clear. But this song makes me so sad and so happy at the same time. No one’s gonna write songs about gender identity like David Combs and I wish that wasn’t the case on this earth. But I am so glad that David does. This song is necessary, so many of his songs are necessary that the aesthetic choices he makes and the similarities to The Max Levine Ensemble do seem more like my own subjective problem.
So perhaps it is with all this in mind that David included a set of acoustic versions of all the songs on The Papas. These intimate versions, stripped away of all the circuitry and drums and horn hits are the songs the way that I grew accustomed to watching David play, often kneeling on his knees in someone’s house. I get homesick listening to these versions. No longer are we raging out, but instead David is breaking hearts, one by one. “Gerald Lee Palmer” strikes my soul, the story of fathers and daughters unable to get along. Or when he sings about his broken, fucked up relationship with his biological father on “Stab Yer Dad” I just want to drive across this country, find him and give him a hug. I want to call up my dad and thank him for not doing all the things that David’s dad did to him and making me believe that you can be a good person and a man, despite all the evidence to the contrary.
I don’t know, I shouldn’t feel this way. Maybe it’s the whiskey talking, or the mixed emotions, the frustration. I shouldn’t lean on these things that are external to my life, that bear less importance in my survival than I give them credit. Living so far away, I don’t know if I’ll ever even see David play music or just hang with him after a show at Ben’s Chili Bowl. This music brings up so many memories for me, all the good things I miss about being in DC and all the one’s I am trying to have in Albuquerque. I don’t know where this fits in my life anymore, but it’s so beautiful. This is my active involvement in music. Me, forcing myself into it further then the average person I know and taking more out of it then should be expected. But whatever, Jameson is really cheap and it goes down so easily.