Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I Was Tamed By Rock & Roll

I had this therapist once, who used to talk to me about things that were grounding. That was back when I was just starting to admit that I was kind of pissed off, simmering, beneath it all. She had a list of things, I imagine things like, say, jogging, maybe? Or, well... I don't know, actually. The only one I remember for sure is singing. That was the one that stuck with me.

I'm a lot more used to myself now. If I love you, you can still get me pissed off, but I don't simmer as much. I still get keyed up though, overwhelmed at times, and that can turn into something like simmering. Writing weeks are always one of those times. Too much good stuff, ironically. Hours and hours of talk, about things I care about in the most essential way. Lots of satisfying hard work, reading, commenting on manuscripts. This ranch is where I get the best food I get all year, it's the place I look forward to taking photos, and seeing some of my favorite people, and where I get to see the dogs I know best in the world, with their beautiful, haunting wolfhound howls. Even so, after four intense days, I get a little crabby. I had to admit that tonight, and I was sorry about it, but it's really better to get it right out there and deal with it.

Music is like cross-training for writers, is how I like to think about it, sometimes. Especially the way Jeff Tweedy does it. I think about something different every time I listen to him, every time I watch Sunken Treasure, or see Wilco in concert. Sometimes it's about how a concert can be like church, or how church should be, the way he talks about it in Sunken Treasure, the whole communal thing. Sometimes I think about the lyrics, about connection, talking to each other, things we mean to say, all that. Tonight, though, when we put Sunken Treasure on and sat around in Pam's living room, after the last workshop of the day, before our one day off (before the peach pie), when Jeff Tweedy starting singing the title song, I was thinking about singing.

Just singing. The grounding kind of singing. Singing that is breath leaving your body, your throat resonant with sound, your chest filled with it, your ears - all of you, really.

I didn't sing along with the movie. Pam turned it up loud and something about the way Jeff Tweedy's voice held those notes so imperfectly meant that I didn't have to. He was singing for me. It was more satisfying to sit there, do nothing, let myself be filled up with the sound in that other way. But it was so good it felt like that grounding kind of singing, like therapy, and I stopped simmering and was ready for some pie and more of what we came here for.

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