Death in the Morning

In the first few minutes after I wake up, I am often acutely aware of my mortality. My mind feels separate from my body, and my body feels like a hunk of rotting meat. This awareness is both profound and unpleasant.

Most days, death lurks somewhere off in the distance. It’s going to happen, but it probably won’t happen today, or next week, or next year even. If I can expect to live as long as the life expectancy statistics tell me I can, then I’ll be around for another four decades. Suddenly, I feel sick.

“Tell me, what is it you plan do with your one wild and precious life?” the great poet Mary Oliver asks us. Quotes like that are inspiring, but they can also intimidate. It’s hard not to feel like you’re doing it wrong. Even when you have so much to be grateful for, it’s impossible not to feel at times like you’re squandering the literal opportunity of a lifetime. Like now, for instance. Why am I typing this? There is an entire world of possibility just outside my window.

Unfortunately, we don’t always know what to do with our time here. But one thing I’ve found is that it’s always good to connect with others. It could be something as simple as a short email to a friend sending them a song you think they’d like. Or a quick conversation with a colleague about something other than work. It doesn’t take much to make you feel happy about life here on Planet Earth. Rocket science or Ancient Greek Philosophy it ain’t — but it is a way to give your life a bit more meaning while you’re lucky enough to be living it.

 

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TIME’S UP: Strange, vol. 3 just released!

I promised myself I’d release Strange, volume 3 this year and… time’s up. I just published it to Bandcamp at 11:59 p.m. The illustration was done by my friend Joe Borzotta who did the art for the previous two “Strange” compilations. Scroll down this post for liner notes on each song…… and HAPPY 2017!!!

Paul

LINER NOTES

Do Ya Love Me?
The opening track on the third and final installment of the Strange trilogy. Georgie makes a cameo – always a bonus .

All I Could Do Was Cry
My friend Jamal gave me a copy of Etta’s At Last LP when my second daughter was born last year. As soon as I got home I recorded this.

Tears For Sale
About the saddest man in the world. It’s a barrel of laughs.

Family Tree
A song for my daughters.

Me & Julio Down by the Schoolyard
A photograph in sonic form.

New Eyes
Early one morning I stepped out on the front porch, looked around at the trees and sky and birds and felt like a creature of this Earth in a way I hadn’t in a long time. That’s what this song is about.

You’re Alright By Me
I was out walking around the city one bright sunny afternoon looking at the billboards and the people and general rush and scramble and I made up this song.

Joanie (I Still Talk To Her)
What I love about songwriting is how you can start a song about one thing, then expand it to be about more things. This one drifts from my Grandma to drugs to my wife and back.

Wounded Child
No matter how old we get, or what brave face we put on, we’ve all got a hurt, scared, lonely child inside who’s pulling all the strings.

I Wanna Be A Grandpa
A funny thing happened when he died — it’s almost like he became part of me and I feel him with me more now than ever before. Love you Gramps.

You Are My Sunshine
My second daughter Lulu loves this song, and come to find out it’s one of the official state songs of Louisana. Ain’t life strange?

Just A Day
A private little melody of reassurance. I need them now and then, who doesn’t?

Someday You’ll Be A Diamond
Rewrite on Wild Thing.

Gig Recap: Nothing Gold Can Stay

paul-and-jay-at-twisted-elm

Tonight after I left my gig at the Twisted Elm, I pulled into a gas station to grab a cup of coffee. Gas station coffee is the best coffee. Especially on a late night drive after a show. Anyway, I sat there in the car for a few minutes with the engine idling, just sort of smiling to myself about the gig. Apart from my family, there is nothing more important, nothing more meaningful to me than that thing. That special, rare thing that happens on a night like tonight, in a room like the one at the Twisted Elm, with people like those of you who turned up to see Jay and me play. It’s transcendent. It’s like we’re all in it together. Anything can happen. Nothing can touch us. And then poof! It’s gone. Nothing gold can stay. It’s very mysterious, very magical…and I’m grateful for every moment of it. So thank you. Tonight I got a chance to do what I love to do. And even better, I got a chance to do it with you.

See you next time,

Paul

PS, here is the setlist I played (as best as I can remember it) with links to recordings I’ve made of these songs over the years…

  1. Dead Flowers (Rolling Stones)
  2. Adolescent Fantasy
  3. Low Life Creep
  4. Crazy (Willie Nelson)
  5. Perpetual Blues Machine (Keb Mo’)
  6. Follow That Gold
  7. Young Junkie
  8. Ain’t It Good
  9. I Wanna Be A Grandpa
  10. Someone To Somebody
  11. Roll Over Beethoven (Chuck Berry)
  12. Can’t Stand Myself
  13. Keep Your Heart Singin’

 

Freedy Johnston brings the Truth (capital T) to Jersey City

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Hopped over to the Fox & Crow tonight to catch Freedy Johnston’s set. He shook some gravel loose in my brain, reminded me of what I’ve aspired to for many years. It’s not complicated. But it is rare. It’s that special connection between a performer and his audience. You can’t see it on YouTube. You can’t hear it on Soundcloud. You have to be in the room. Only then will you experience the magic.

Tonight, Freedy brought honesty, integrity, experience, and vulnerability to those of us in attendance. He brought the real. You could see it in his face, hear it in his voice, feel it in his songs. It ain’t about perfect notes or perfect clothes (though he did look sharp). Gimme some truth, as John Lennon implored. And that’s exactly what he did.

Freedy is one of Jersey City’s newest imports. Listen to his records, visit his website, but most importantly go see him live. You’ll see the genuine article. He inspired me tonight, and I believe he’ll inspire you too. Thanks for the good time Freedy. “Her favorite dress is nothing at all.” That’s a lyric I’ll be trying to top for a while. Cheers & I’ll see you around town.

 

 

 

What magic, I thought to myself.

The streets were filled with people, drunk, drifting, shouting, and everything felt electric. What magic, I thought to myself. I wanted to capture the rhythm and the attitude of that moment, bottle it up somehow so I could uncork it later. I’ve tried to record it a few times and never quite nailed it, but this take gets it pretty good. Here we go, Out On The Street.

paul rmbu live with it 1

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Fine wine & good times on my mind…

Having a little fun here whipping up this little flyer for my show on Saturday at Pino’s down in Highland Park. I was there last year, it was pretty mellow, it’s a big wine shop and they’ve got a bar too, there’s an outdoor patio, all-in-all it’s a cool spot. Come on over if you’re in the area and let’s have ourselves a little Beaujolais and a fine time on one of the last of these fading summer nights.

pino's vlyer

 

We live in a crazy, f*cked-up world.

We live in a crazy, f*cked-up world. Everybody is hurting. So much of this pain we bring on ourselves. Not as individuals, but as a people. I don’t blame anyone. It’s in our nature. We’re animals. Beholden to laws beyond ourselves. The only thing stopping us from annihilation is that tiny quicksilver pool of goodness way down in the bottom of our hearts.  That’s it. Without it, we’d be toast. And we still might be. But I don’t plan on sitting around waiting for it to happen. I’m gonna get up here and sing while I still have the chance. You should too.