Greetings from Austin, Texas, where I’ve been since Sunday. I’m here, of course, for SXSW, the annual clusterfuck of panels, music and general debauchery. This year I also caught a portion of Film/Interactive, but I wasn’t really sure what to do with myself. I was on a couple of panels at Music, which went well enough. Saw some fine shows, but certainly not as many as some folks. I’d be psyched to be getting back to DC if it weren’t for the fact that I’m only there one day before I’m off to give a guest lecture at McGill in Montreal and then over to Toronto for the northern version of SXSW, Canadian Music Week. Same deal; a couple of panels, maybe a show or two.
I’m exhausted. Not necessarily from the traveling, which I’m fairly used to at this point. I’m a deeper kind of exhausted; a life exhausted. There’s shit going on right now that I couldn’t have planned for, and I have this sinking feeling that the entire applecart is about to be upset. Big life changes, blah, blah, blah. I hate them. Particularly at my advanced age.
I’ve been extremely creative lately, at least musically speaking. But this site has definitely been neglected. I keep meaning to change that, but life conspires. I’ve never used The Contrarian as a personal journal, both because that’s not really my style, and also because the readership is high enough that I feel a need to be somewhat circumspect about my life off the soapbox. Musically, I follow a similar script. It’s easier — and safer — to express myself through concept than to toss deeply personal stuff around like an emotional chew toy. I mention this only because I now feel the need to get some things off my chest, and I think it’s gonna happen in the context of a very sentimental and likely melodramatic “solo” record. The Contrarian is on hold (the music act anyway); this will be a Casey Rae joint.
I just gotta get in one place so I can start laying down tracks. This is gonna be my Jackson Browne/Fleetwood Mac record. Yikes.
I’m not even gonna bother to tell you about the music I caught here in Austin; you can see it on Facebook. It was fun, even under trying emotional conditions. It just sucks not being able to channel this energy, harrowing as it is. Or having to wait to channel it. I’m really thankful for the extraordinarily small handful of friends who have listened to my odd harangues and pity parties, but I’m not gonna really be able to process the current state of affairs without composing some music. Maybe I should be glad: there has been for some time a disconnect between my emotional inner-world and what typically provides fodder for my record-making. This could be an opportunity to get out of the comfort zone.
A listener once suggested that it could be instructive/interesting to publicly document my composition process. I didn’t disagree, but the way I usually go about recording is more akin to building a cabinet or a time machine or interstellar space vehicle. It just comes together via various parts that I fashion into a whole that hopefully embodies whatever conceptual thing happens to tickle my fancy at the time. This go-around may finally offer a compelling reason to chronicle each uncomfortable undertaking!
The crappy thing about making records under topsy-turvy life situations is that you don’t really know how fucked things are gonna get. I may end up finishing this thing in a mud hut in Siberia for all I know. I could become a wandering mendicant with a begging bowl, humming the songs to myself. Or I may never find the time to compose song number one.
I’ll be 38 in May. That’s insane. Life was supposed to be completely sorted out by now, but it seems to be ever more mysterious. But unlike during one’s youth, the mystery isn’t exciting; it’s simply daunting. Oh, and by the way, this is probably the most personal I’ve ever gotten in seven years of publishing this site. Not sure how I feel about that.
OK, gotta go. I might try to see if I can demo a few things on the iPad without an instrument. Not sure how this is gonna work. Wish me luck. I’ll wish that shit right back at’cha.