David Berman of the Silver Jews- Grabbing them by the Pussy


Although I wasn’t familiar with his music, I read about David Berman in a UVA alumni magazine & a friend of mine told me that he was famous & living in Nashville, so I thought that was cool and invited him to play a show with me.

He showed up with a little posse and a smoke machine, since- rather than singing- he wanted to recite poetry with smoke blowing behind him. I remember feeling sorry for him, standing on the stage with smoke blowing behind him, as though the need of a smoke machine made him pathetic somehow.

It is usually a bad sign when I feel sorry for someone. Clinton, Weiner, Epstein, Weinstein- most sexual predators trigger pangs of pity in me and I don’t even know why. Crossed wires, probably.

And then of course, feeling pity for a man makes me feel guilty, since I imagine men don’t want to be seen as pitiful, which causes me to twist my mind into a state of deep admiration, just in case they can sense my thoughts. I always feel responsible for boosting men’s self-esteem as though they are little boys and I am their nanny. If they look stupid, I feel pain.

Anyway, after the show he walked up to me where I was sitting on a stool and stuck his hand up my skirt real fast and grabbed me on the flesh at which point animal consciousness took over and I started kicking him. There were at least six people watching, but maybe more.

I don’t remember what happened after that except that one of his posse was trying to calm me down and make sure I didn’t call the cops since, as he said, Berman had a beautiful wife at home and this would break her heart etc etc. Berman too was a troubled man with a heart of gold and they would make sure to straighten him out. He also said what Berman did was really really bad which was useful information for me since on my own I might not have figured it out. After all, my husband was one of the people watching and I don’t recall him saying anything about the incident or being particularly concerned.

(Which, in retrospect, makes sense considering that he got me to marry him by grabbing my crotch as we were zooming down the highway on the way to what I thought was a spiritual retreat. Then he said I needed to marry him because sexual contact outside of marriage was wrong.)

All in all, the Berman incident didn’t loom large in my mind. If it hadn’t been for the posse member talking me into not calling the cops (which I wouldn’t have done anyway, considering that I had a supernatural fear of police plus no concept that forcing hands into privates was a crime) I might not even remember it. It just seemed to blend into the general spirit of the time. I even sent Berman a Christmas card afterwards. How embarrassing.

But for some reason, a few days ago, I was telling my current husband about it, and he wanted to beat Berman up, so I googled him and found that he had hanged himself a couple weeks prior. I wasn’t sure how to feel about it all. My husband said he wouldn’t be surprised if someone had offed him.

And then I was reading the articles about his poetry & music which all seemed to agree that above all, David Berman was a symbol of goodness and decency. Maybe he was, who knows? Goodness & decency have always creeped me out.

*

P.S. Though I always considered this incident to be quite minor, with no impact, in some respect it (along with other incidents) maybe did have the stereotypical impact on me.

I assumed I was basically asking for these things, considering I was wearing a skirt and also a lace camisole on top of my polo shirt. So I reconsidered my clothing choices.

I assumed I was pretty much asking for it by singing songs about mating with rabbits and making love to plants and fathers. So I tried to tone down the sexual content of my songs which (as a Scorpio) just meant writing less in general.

I assumed I was pretty much asking for it by hanging out in slimy bars at night. So, it *possibly* played a role in my decision to stop performing.

I assumed I was pretty much asking for it by interacting with males so much in general, although that couldn’t be helped since they made up the bulk of the music world. For a long time, I tried to avoid interacting with males at all to avoid giving the impression that I was a pervert.

But I don’t know. I am just thinking about this now for the first time. For some reason I never really thought about it until I found out he was dead.

Run Rabbit Run (Video)

I have two problematic states I can be in. One is frozen, like a block of ice that can’t speak or move, and the second is evaporated like steam that will say or do anything. These videos make me feel self-conscious because they capture me in my icy state due to the presence of all the technology and lights. Technology is useful, but may be kryptonite to females.

I wrote this song in Nashville, as part of an album called “The Odyssey” which expressed my feelings of endless journeying through a dark world. As I’ve said before, Nashville struck me as a dark city, but that may be because I only went out at night. Having no money and little food can make the world feel darker as well. I lived on my own, but had zero practicality. When the electricity was turned off I had no idea why. I thought I was witnessing a supernatural event. Once- as if by magic- a person left cans of food at my door but I didn’t know how to open them. So I smashed them with a hammer and ate the pieces that didn’t have metal in them. I was an animal, I guess. How far I have come. Plus there was the darkness of the music industry which hung over the musicians like a shadow.

Many of the songs I wrote at that time can no longer be sung because they are so sexual that it would be embarrassing to someone with my current level of dignity. Sexuality is a language for desperate times, I guess, but not the language to use when you want to seem like a good neighbor. Or your husband wants to run for city council. Now dignity must always be first and foremost on my mind. “Stiff as a board” is my new motto.

Me, in Nashville. Then I was truly crazy, now I am practically President of the United States.

Made Love to My Father

 

I made love to my father and now I must pay... The True Story of a Confederate Soldier by Julien AkleiWell, it looks like this is my final song! I have finally recorded and posted all the songs I have written so far. Phew. Now I am free to move on to something new… maybe I will grow my fingernails out into out long, golden talons studded with rhinestones and tiny teddy bears. Ah, that sounds like paradise!

I think this is a decent song for my grand finale, because… well, I remember when I wrote it, the sky was so so blue and the song unfolded page by page in my mind like a storybook, filling me with a sense of eternity. Which is to say, I have positive associations with it.

Also, this song captures a world I frequently try to capture in my songs– a place I call “Checkerboard World.” Checkerboard World is more or less the same as this world, except that everything seems slightly more luminous, more crisp and defined. Plus there is a giant checkerboard that covers the earth and one in the sky as well. The checkered squares in the grass are large- maybe 10 feet wide on average- but in the sky they are even larger, maybe up to a mile wide! But the size of the checkerboard grid varies from place to place, sometimes expanding, sometimes condensing. It all depends on how much space the space contains.

But don’t confuse Checkerboard World with heaven. This is not the land of golden angels. There are still thugs in their dark alleys and scoops of chocolate ice cream that topple onto new white shirts. But there may be something about the clarity and spaciousness of the place that makes it easier for people to recover completely from the bad things that do happen. And in Checkerboard World there is no time, meaning there is plenty of opportunity to sit and cry for as long as you need to. Well, technically time does exists, but only as a way of subdividing eternity, which stretches out around people in all directions (like a checkerboard). Even death is nothing but an opportunity to evaporate up to the giant checkerboard in the sky so you can pour down again like rain.

Download MP3: Made Love to My Father

Mister will you make love to me?

 

Brownie feeding a dog with a mysterious shadow.A song about my desperation to leave the cold world of outer space and feel earthed again. I wrote this song in Nashville. As a kid, visiting Nashville from Kentucky, I had always liked its warm, earthy vibe, like pizza cooked in a red brick oven. But when I moved there as an adult- around 2006, I think, it didn’t seem the same anymore. It had become citified, slick, black, stylish, and cold. Sure, there was country music, but there wasn’t anything country.

What is country music, anyway? To me, it would be any music inspired by a southern, rural life. It wouldn’t have to fit a certain mold- it could be strange, nonsensical, angry, dull, sad, or wild. It could express the full range of human emotions and the crazy imagination of nature. But Nashville music isn’t rooted in the country, it is rooted in the tradition of country music, which is a very different thing. It pulls its tradition from a handful of 20th century country heroes, a well that becomes more depleted with every song written. Art that draws on other art as its foundation… well, I think it can get a little inbred.  That is how we end up with blank canvases and the like hanging up in museums.

But that is just my opinion. The point is, I felt disappointed that Nashville had become more cosmopolitan than homey.  I wanted something soft, warm, and natural, but ended up with something cold, hard and plastic. It may be no coincidence that so many of the songs I wrote in Nashville relate to being lost in outer space.

Download MP3: Mister Will You Make Love to Me?

Dragonlance

 

Nude Lady holding blue and lavender cross flag on lavender background.A friend asked me if I could write a song for him to sing to his lady-friend, and this is what I wrote… although it should actually be sung as a duet with a chorus of dwarfs chiming in.

It is called Dragonlance, because he was the type of guy that collects dragon figurines, Magic the Gathering cards, and things of that ilk. I love people who are into that stuff- they seem so innocent and pure- but I can’t relate to it myself. The whole fantasy genre is anathemic to me. I can’t bring myself to watch Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. How can I get excited about something that isn’t real? I would rather have some french fries with ketchup.

Of course I do like dwarfs, but to me they aren’t a fantasy.

 

 

Download MP3: Dragonlance

Black Man

 

Black man flying over two shadowy figures and one saint, near a river, surrounded by flowers.I hope I don’t get sued for writing a song called “Black Man,” but the truth is I believe there are beings in every color of the rainbow who live side by side with us humans. And of these vividly colored peoples, the one I think about most frequently is the famous “Black Man,” a jet black figure about 33% larger than a regular person. I think these colored beings might show up in our lives to compensate for our weaknesses. The black man seems strong and protective to me, though also opaque and aloof. But after all he’s part of another world, and “their ways are not our ways.”

 

 

 

 

Download MP3: Black Man

On A Mexican Trail

 

Garth Brooks and his horse on a mountain path in Mexico.
A picture of Garth Brooks on a mountain path in Mexico. Did he manage to escape the Nashville Blackbird?

 

A song about the Mexican Fire Bird… a gigantic orange bird who helps people escape constrained, repressive circumstances (including prison).  The Mexican Fire Bird frequently guides people out west to where the grid of the earth is wide and spacious and they can once again take deep breaths of exhilaration and adventure.

The Mexican Fire Bird has many friends, but also enemies, including one black bird so large he is the size of four cars (and bigger when his wings are spread.) He snatches musicians with his beak and carries them way up high, so high that everyone can see them, a shining star at last, until he drops them onto a large pile of rocks by a creek somewhere in Henderson County, Tennessee. After that, I don’t know what happens… probably he eats their remains.

Some people say this black bird makes his nest on top of the large bat building in downtown Nashville. But at any rate, he is a sworn enemy to the Mexican Fire Bird. Because the Mexican Fire Bird teaches people to seek the fire within, and the Nashville Blackbird can only prey on those looking to find fire in other peoples’ eyes.

 

 

Download MP3: On a Mexican Trail

Burn Baby

 

Fairy resting on walking stick beneath hot sun.

 

 

This song was inspired by the fairies of fire, and the book “Enchantment of the Faerie Realm” by Ted Andrews, a book I wish I still owned. Although many of my beliefs (like the belief that wearing designer clothes will make you rich) have changed over the years, my faith in fairies has never wavered. What else could explain the growth of plants and those tiny smiley faces you see in the sunbeams?

 

 

 

 

Download MP3: Burn Baby