“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” — T.S. Eliot
I suppose it was always going to end up where it started.
As you all know more about than you probably wish you did, I’ve struggled virtually all my life to build a life I can live with. I have, so far, failed. For sure, I can’t live with the life I have right now, as my little customer-service-triggered meltdown a few weeks ago reminded me.
My life feels small. It *is* small. And you might have noticed, I’m not good at small. Small makes no sense to me, though I’d bet that a lot of people with so-called “small” lives are a lot happier than I am. And yet, I just can’t do it.
A few months ago, I posted about hearing Townes Van Zandt’s “I’ll Be Here in the Morning” for the first time, and I said then that it was one of those rare moments when life divides into before and after. That was not an exaggeration. But first, some backstory.
A few months prior to that, I shared the story about Billy and me and how I found my way to Nashville. (https://tinyurl.com/yy7y2aq9).
I loved Nashville. I loved the city, I loved the diversity, I loved the creative energy. I loved that most everyone I met there had ambitions. Big ambitions. I had big ambitions, too, but what I didn’t have back then was anything to actually say. I wrote songs and they were good songs. But not great songs.
They couldn’t be great songs because they didn’t speak the truth. How could they? I hadn’t actually lived a life yet. So for that reason and a few others far more stupid and far less noble, I left Nashville and I moved to LA. It was hands-down the biggest mistake of my life, but for better or worse, I lived a life.
I became a screenwriter and a political consultant and a photographer and other things, too, also far more stupid and far less noble. I was disowned by my family and I met the love of my life and my heart was shattered into a million pieces and I walked the Camino de Santiago to the End of the World and I came back and then Moe and my heart was shattered into a million pieces all over again, and then I searched, without success, for some way in which my life would have meaning.
And now back to “I’ll Be Here in the Morning.”
Townes Van Zandt was a brilliant songwriter — maybe one of the best there’s ever been — because he tells the truth. Standing in my kitchen, listening, in tears, all of the aching, overwhelming regret that I still had about having walked away from my music came flooding back, and I didn’t know how to handle it. And that regret spun me into a very (very) dark place.
That’s when John appeared.
JD blew across my life like a brush fire over a drought-ravaged prairie, burning away all my carefully-constructed defenses and denials, exposing fault lines, stripping my life down to its elemental forms. And along the way, I fell in love again.
As soon as I let JD’s music in, my music, the music that I’d tried to leave behind when I left Nashville, came back, too. And I started writing songs again. And found I couldn’t stop even if I’d wanted to. And somewhere along the way, I realized I’d finally found my way back home again.
I will probably never have a physical “home” in the sense most people mean it, although I still wish I could. It pains me to admit it, but I don’t think I’m built to stay in one place forever. Maybe that’s okay, though, because I think I’m starting to understand that sometimes home isn’t what where we live, but what we do with our lives.
This is why JD matters so much to me. If “I’ll Be Here in the Morning” busted open the door, then JD is the one who took my hand and walked me home.
Also he looks damn fine in leather pants.
And so the most important part of my reinvention is that I’m going back to the beginning, back to the life I made the mistake of walking away from all those years ago. Back to my original calling as a songwriter. It’s my biggest regret and I feel like I have one last second chance to make it right.
I have no clue how all of this is going to unfold. I mean, zero clue. Obviously it’s likely to be very different than it would have been if I’d stayed in Nashville all those years ago, and that’s a big, huge, icky regret that I’m still struggling with. What could have been.
I’m not even sure yet that my new path leads through Nashville (probably). Maybe it leads through Austin (possibly). Or Los Angeles (doubtful). Or all of the above or somewhere else entirely.
But it’s okay that I don’t know where this is all headed. I used to think I had to know the likely outcome before I committed to something, like I knew that if I walked far enough on the Camino, I’d eventually reach the End of the World. But I’m learning, slowly, that I don’t have to know where it’s going to know it’s the right path. As someone said to me recently, “A dream is a direction. You find your way by working on it.”
What I do have is a clear and certain conviction that my feet are on the right path for the first time since I left Nashville all those years ago. And unlike last time, I actually have something to say now. And I think I’m finally brave enough to write the truth. I think that’s the only way to write truly great songs and I’m not super interested in anything less. I’m not good at small.
Is this a risk? Oh, hell yeah, for all kinds of reasons. Maybe the biggest one I’ve ever taken. (and psst, I don’t need anyone pointing this out, I’m well aware). But the risk really doesn’t matter, because now that I’ve found my way home, I’m not letting go. I’ll go back to living in a studio apartment and eating Ramen if that’s what it takes to be a songwriter again. (do they make vegan Ramen?)
So with all of that said, then, on to The Thing. Aka, my first original song in a very long time. It’s called “Gone to Seed.” I wrote it and I sang it and I co-produced it. Most importantly, I lived it. And it’s true.
Click below to hear GONE TO SEED:
GONE TO SEED She’s a wild rose gone to seed Never knowing what she needs Or how to get it That kind of life can drive you straight Into an early grave If you let it But every morning she gets up And pours herself some courage Wondering if today might be The day she finally finds a way to fly. Wild roses gone to seed Is it a crime to want the things you need? Wild roses gone to seed Disappointment growing like a weed And every morning she gets up And pours herself some courage Wondering if today might be The day she finally finds a way to fly. Alone at night she can’t hold back the tears Worrying that her best years are behind her And in despair sometimes she sends a prayer That one last second chance will find her. And in the morning she wakes up And pours herself some courage Wondering if today might be The day she finally finds a way to fly. Wild roses gone to seed Is it a crime to want the things you need? Wild roses gone to seed Not the kind of life she meant to lead. She’s a wild rose gone to seed Never knowing what she needs Or how to get it That kind of life can drive you straight Into an early grave If you let it But every morning she gets up And pours herself some courage Wondering if today might be The day she finally finds a way to fly. Drugstore color covering up the grey, Set the timer while she prays For one last second chance to fly. © 2020 Faith Currant