Friday, March 23, 2007

How I Got My Groove Back

I'm in a somewhat ridiculous position here - as if I need to tell you that. I've played in bands since I was 11, and you get used to it. I mean you need it. Let me use the slot analogy developed over years of analyzing life and lives. There are around 10 or 15 major slots in a life, that decrease in importance as you go down the list, and the problem is when one of them is empty. When this happens everything moves up and takes the wrong place on the list. That's when you get your blues or worse yet, a stagnant feeling like your life is missing the magic.

For example there's the slot of "What is your core identity - what do you need to be you?" I think a lot of problems in our society come from people putting their jobs in that slot. You might see it after they retire and seem lost. Then there's "Who means the most to you - who do you love?" Sadly some people have lost someone in that slot so everything moves up. Often the love of a religious figure takes the place of a missing loved one, and that works. People stay in balance and carry on. Sometimes it's a pet, but when that slot gets filled with something like a job or a drug or gambling, watch out.

In many ways, Bush and Cheney just seem to have the wrong things in the slot called, "What does it take for you to get your groove on?" For some people it might be stamp collecting or painting a mural. For them it's launching an unnecessary war. When Dick Cheney no longer is allowed to make decisions that crush other people's lives, he is going to be miserable. In fact, he is miserable right now because he has "Power trips" in the "What I Love" slot and it ain't working for him. It's hurt his heart.

That's what this is about. Keeping as many aspects of your life as the right choices in the right slot. It's key to your health. So what do you do when you've played in bands all your life and your band seems to have disintegrated? You take a few months to mope about it, (November and December), and then you start noticing life going a little stale. Everything moves up and for me that meant comedy writing was in the band slot.

This was trouble. For me writing comedy is a profession. It's a quirky thing that I can do, but if it moves into the wrong slot, I become less good at it. Now, I'm never going to have writer's block or anything dramatic like that. I've been given a weird gift and the stuff pours out as fast as I can type. That's how I can write dozens of marketable jokes in an hour or two every day allowing me to be free, but if there is no music happening, it becomes tedious and irritating.

Right now my brother and I are kicking around the idea of doing a documentary and I realized I needed an acoustic to make it happen. I blew out my wrist playing bass so I only play electrics, but I found one of these new high-quality acoustics so I can handle it. I still have the foot-playing tambourine skills so suddenly, I was in range of a one-man act. Now, the reason I never did this before is that I am not a lead singer, or at least it doesn't sound like I am. But these are desperate times, and frankly, I don't care about that anymore. I can't afford to worry about the audience's needs - sorry, but this is about my needs.

So the other night I took it to the stage and played for a loud noisy bar. I went off for about an hour and 15 minutes straight. It was high energy complete with songs by the Clash, and 2 or 3 that I made up on the spot. I also played my song, "Let's Leave Iraq" which has been on cable access maybe 50 times - but not like this. Oh well. At least I can generate a serious groove and that's enough to keep them from requesting that you stop. One funny moment was noticing there was still a tag hanging down from the top of the new guitar while I was playing. Whoops. Nothing like showing the crowd that you've just been doing this for a few days.

When I came home I was better. My wife hated the cigarette smell on my clothes, but what was the napalm line from the movie? It smelled like victory. Everything held together although when I reached down to pick up my radio later, I got a huge cramp in my rib cage. Ouch.

The next morning comedy writing was back in its proper slot and I wrote a statement joke that was on national TV last night: "I love it when the pundits say this fired attorney story could lead to a Constitutional crisis. Please! We haven't used the Constitution in years." I also had another one on about Spring Break and the jokes for the radio network wrote themselves. Everything was back in its proper ridiculous balance in my life so thing's flowed. I should be okay for a while.

My only concern now is running into someone who was in that bar and having them ask, "What was that all about?"


At 2:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This blog lives too much in the past. What have you done lately? No one is interested in what you did 25 years ago.

At 2:59 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

I guess I buried the lede because this post talks about a performance from Wednesday and one of two jokes on TV from just last night.
But hey, I have been writing a lot about a hitchhiking trip from 1972 so I guess you got me on that.

At 3:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can't know where you are going until you know where you've been. Bill tells a great story, and I find his tales from long ago quite enjoyable and very interesting.

At 10:19 AM, Blogger Ruben Bailey said...

Ummm, might we get a little headsup BEFORE you play? Curiosity is killing the blogger....


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