This Time…

Am I really doing this? Why am I doing this?

Flying down to the Florida panhandle for 30A Songwriters Fest.

And why did I get my hair cut? I look like Janet (the dark-haired one) from Three’s Company’s mother. Or possibly father.

Do I have some merch to bring? Why am I flying Southwest again? Oh right, so I can check a bags . And plus there was that voucher from the last time I flew Southwest and instead of landing in Albany where my car was parked we landed a few hours to the west in Syracuse. Where it was snowing. 

Am I really going to Florida for this festival? God, three years ago I was a wreck when I flew home from there. David Olney had suffered a heart attack, right there on stage next to me and Scott Miller. I can still feel the soft suede of the beautiful jacket he wore, see his new bearded look and smile when he’d greeted me at the artist check-in two days earlier. He was such a lovely man, someone to look up to. He was seventy one years old.

Marti Jones and Don Dixon talked me down that night, made sure I got back to where I was staying. I kept thinking about Olney’s wife, what it must’ve been like for her. A few months later my own husband had a heart attack. Maybe he survived because I’d seen how quickly a life can end and got him to the hospital.

Should I carry this book I bought because I heard Olney mention it in a performance? Zen Flesh, Zen Bones. I’ve taken a lot of comfort in that book over the last three years. So much has changed since I went to Florida January 2020. Back then I worried “Will people come to see me play?” Now I don’t really care. I mean I don’t want to play to noone but I realize it’s not a competition. Or if it is, I’m not in it anymore. I just want to play my songs and at least I know the other artists will be there. Keeping the bar low – basically, nobody die.

I feel excited to see friends! Friends I made when I lived in Nashville, talented folks I cross paths with out on the road: Will Kimbrough, the Kennedys, Steve Poltz. Kim Richey. Chuck Prophet and Stephanie Finch. Abe Partridge who I met onstage the last time I went. Webb Wilder. I’m sure I’m leaving out a lot of artists I admire.

A hat. I’ll cover this unfortunate haircut with a hat.

I wonder what the weather will be like? I wonder if I’ll cross paths with Livingston Taylor again? He and I sat in the same seafood shack when everyone else was probably seeing John Prine. I only know it was him because the guy behind the counter shouted out his full name when his order was ready.

I wish I’d gone to see John Prine three years ago. How could any of us know he would be gone in a few months? How can any of us ever know what lies ahead? I want to see Rickie Lee Jones. And Steve Earle, even though I’ve seen him a lot. These people are my heroes. We may not pass this way again.

What the hell will I wear (oh wait, I already wrote that one). I think I just won’t think about it too much. Florida in January is pretty sweet. I’m still alive, still healthy. I feel lucky to have some place I need to be. Want to be- I want to go to this festival in Florida. Playing music is one of the things I love to do. I always feel better after doing. Except maybe that last time in Florida. But this time will be different. I am definitely doing this.

This is a song I wrote on the plane flying back from Florida three years ago (I fell asleep with my head against the seat in front of me and when I woke up it was there, just had to transcribe…you can hear the ragged exhaustion in my voice on this very rough demo I made that night)


Try your whole life to make something that matters

Chords chime, words rhyme

Paint spatters

Get out the camera, take a shot - you wanna capture

Madness, sadness,

Sunsets, rapture

Doors won’t always open

That dont’ stop you hoping

Someday you can grab it

Like a cowgirl cattle roping

Selling makes you crazy

Giving up is lazy

Tough days you just play it

Like De Niro and Scorsese

First you get hurt

Then you get smart

We all wind up in the dirt

They say that living is an art

Hear the sound of laughter

From the Hereafter

Is it better to burn out or fall apart?

Why are we born, why must we expire

Good times, bad times

Crawling through the mire

Trouble is a season

There must be a reason

Heartbreak, earthquake

One more winter freezing

History will measure

What was trash or treasure

This woman’s pain is another gal’s pleasure

Dreams are the main vector

Luck the great selector

Rough times make you eat it

just like Hannibal Lechter

Damned if you do

But far worse not to start

Is it better to burn out or fall apart?

Is it better to burn out or fall apart?

12 thoughts on “This Time…

  1. Donald Ciccone

    Great song. Nice photo. Zen Flesh Zen Bones is an old fave. The story that stuck with me is the one about the two monks walking who pass by a woman and one monk is still thinking about her after they’ve passed by. Or something like that.

  2. Donald Ciccone

    Forgot to ask: is that new song in regular tuning? Or is it DADGAD or something?
    My tea leaves say you will neither burn out nor fall apart.

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