Every writer struggles like a mad person to be read. We start without any connections at all, and hopefully our work reaches an editor with some sympathy, then an editorial staff that agrees, and with luck, some readers who see what the writer saw and respond to it (I met a few this weekend at Malice Domestic, and they are lovely).
And then the writer will do anything--anything--to avoid writing again. We procrastinate. We perform tasks we truly hate doing. We do laundry. We go to the drug store. Some writers, I'm told, actually clean the house. I've never been that desperate.
I play, and not very well. But that thing keeps me sane, and that's a fact. When I'm stuck on a story point or simply can't motivate myself to the file of the latest novel, I reach for it. It's on a stand right next to my desk, never more than a few feet away. I am, my family will tell you, much easier to live with when I play regularly.
And I have my imaginary play list, for the performance I'll never give because, well, I'm really not that good. But I play it for me, especially when the weather is warm and I can sit out on the front steps and take in the day.
I don't write songs, you should know. The whole set list is comprised of covers, songs written and performed by people much better than me in their previous incarnations. It's not about the astonishing quality of the performance (and you can interpret "astonishing quality" any way you like, but I know what I mean). It's heavy into the oldies because I'm getting pretty old myself. And it's very heavily weighted to songs that don't have a lot of difficult chords because see previous references to me not being that good.
The point, after all, is to clear my mind of writing problems, have some fun, and imagine that I sound much better than I do.
The Set List (Order will vary)
- You Can Close Your Eyes (James Taylor, despite his appalling taste in baseball teams)
- Here Comes the Sun (Beatles
- Boy in the Bubble (Paul Simon)
- Time Between Trains (Susan Werner)
- Guy Fawkes Day (Paul Melancon)
- Stuck in the Middle (Stealer's Wheel)
- Mother Nature's Son (Beatles)
- Up Around the Bend (Creedence Clearwater Revival, and yes, I do it acoustic)
- Mexico (James Taylor)
- Recently (Jim Croce)
- Only the Good Die Young (Billy Joel)
- Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard (Paul Simon)
- Revolution 1 (the slower acoustic version--Beatles)
- Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy--Jim Croce)
- Fly Like A Bird (Boz Scaggs)
- Love the One You're With (Stephen Stills)
- Jeff Lynne (Paul Melancon)
- Walking To You (Everything But the Girl)
- Blackbird (Beatles)
- Country Road (James Taylor)
Good night! Thank you! Make sure you tip your waitress!
Hey. A man can dream.