I have walked this earth and watched people
I can be sincere and say I like them
You can't say no to hope, can't say no to happiness
while the music last night wasn't so great (if I hear that dang Michael Jackson song on another Tuesday Night out I'll scream!) but, it made me realize how much music can affect my mood, and even inspire me. Yesterday, early morning (well, noonish) blog-reading got me to pull out Patti Smith, Joan Armatrading, Sinead O'Connor.......a very happy start to the day. and Monday night, Genius of Love reminded me of being back in Mobile, Ala. at a club called The Hard Act. This is where i met my first boyfriend J'on (yes, he spelled it that way, I never asked, I didnt want to know!) - he was the best friend and hairdresser for all the drag queens who performed there, and most of the time, the music choices to go along with their performances were just not my cup of tea (Over the Rainbow, all that shit...) But one night, one of them did herself up in her version of punk, and came out strutting like mad to Gimme Back My Man. I was bowled over, it really worked, it was really fun, and the crowd went wild! Actually, the very first drag show I ever saw was in downtown Mobile, and I was mesmerized by this black drag queen doing Patti Smith's Pissing in a River - it's actually the first time I consciously remember hearing that song, and it blew me away. This was the early 80's and I was totally into new wave, and was dealing with my sexuality, so seeing it come together in these places was just what i needed. The lines were getting blurry, which made it easier to be whoever you are, and change and evolve, it was all cool. Learning you didn't fit in as a teenager, that you liked boys and you knew no one else who did, and then discovering in college that you had to like disco, or showtunes, to fit into this new crowd, that was tough. So seeing drag performances of new wave material helped me relax. Moving to New York in '83, all alone, and quite worried about finding anyone to love, (according to several spiral notebooks I used to write in) and then I discovered The Bar on 4th st with its awesome jukebox ( Elvis Costello, X, etc) and even The Last Resort (no one remember that place!) on 1st Ave had Gang of Four - Rock N Roll Fag Bars, right? The Bar is where I met most of the friends I had back then, and some are still my best friends.
Much later, in 1998, music again came to the rescue. New Years Day, broke up with one man, (the 7th, and final, break-up with him) and by the spring, broke up with another. Homogenic was my theme music that year. Several of the songs expressed my desires so well, like Unravel ( if you want a good cry, listen to Unravel while looking a picture of yourself with your most recent Ex!), and Bachelorette. Her voice, those strings, just did amazing things to my heart, and my soul. But Alarm Call was the kicker - this one wasn't about yearning, and desire, and finding love; this was about joy, and hope, and giving....... and then, I saw HER on TV; a special on Bravo, and while I generally stay away from knowing much about the personal lives of artists I like, this was different. It showed her working with the musicians, her thoughts about music, and her beloved Iceland. Then, there she is, in a fluffy white down coat, running in the distance, on some ice-covered majestic part of the earth that I could never imagine, and I knew.
I wanted to feel the EARTH. I wanted to see an ocean I had never seen, and see vast stretches of unfamiliar topography. The images on the TV were amazing, and she rejoiced in her homeland. One of the few times in my life I really focused on a goal, and somehow I managed a one-week trip there. It was the first time (only time?) I'd traveled outside the US by myself, and it scared the shit out of me. I spent 2 weeks putting together the best Bjork mixed tape; I wanted to travel light, and so I allowed myself only one tape! And anytime I got squeamish about this unchartered trip, I'd put ALARM CALL on the disc player, and I imagined myself on a moutain-top, with my walkman, playing her joyous tunes. I imagined I would get there, find some secluded spot, and scream. I would yell, and scream, stomp my feet, and let it all out, and allow myself to just get all this crap out of my system.
So, by mid-August, there I was, on my second plane, going from Reykjavik to Husavik, one backpack, lots of Clif Bars, 2 guidebooks, and my unbelieving heart soaring, looking down on moon-like mountains. Later in the day, after I had spent a few hours on a freezing cold trip into the Artic Ocean to see the first whale in my life (it's so much more amazing than anyone can describe)... I found myself walking on a deserted road, outside of town, and at 9pm, the sky still well-lit, the Ocean's breeze soothing my face, I walked over to the edge of this cliff, sat down, and prepared myself to do what I came for, to get it all out. And I looked down, and out into the water, and back at my legs dangling, and I just started giggling. Giggling like a muther-fucker, totally, uncontrollably laughing my hairy ass off at the beauty of it all, the joy that has been in my life, and the joy yet to come. Giggling like I'd never giggled before, and I realized I was taking really good care of myself, that i was smarter than I had ever given myself credit for, that I was a really nice, fun guy, and it just all fit together, and after a while, i got up, and walked some more down that road, away from town, just enjoying everything outside my body, and everything inside. When I realized the only thing I could hear were my own footsteps, it was the most calming, reassuring feeling. I walked some more, and my head started to play One Day (Springs External Mix), and I wound up never actually listening to my walkman for the whole trip. Occasionally, the right Bjork song would come on, inside, but usually, the sounds of waterfalls, quiet winds, sheep, my own footsteps.......
This is an alarm-call so wake-up wake-up now
Today has never happened and it doesn't frighten me