I just took out my guitar -- probably for the first time in months -- and started noodling around. I found myself playing this song, that I wrote when I was 21 or 22, I think. So ten years ago at least. It's about some of the same stuff that's been a major subject of this little diary: how time passes, and things change. I think this is one of the biggest mysteries, shall we say, of life. "Mystery" might not be the right word, but I don't know what is.
Too many days have passed,
Too much has been lost.
A lot of things are different now,
At such a cost.
Nothing is for sure;
You never know what might change.
Nothing works out in the end --
And nothing stays the same.
Too many days have passed.
Time goes by so fast.
No, this will not last.
Nothing works out in the end -- too many days have passed.
Reading them written down, they seem so simplistic. I'm no, I don't know, Donald Fagan. But I do think they capture something. Every moment is fleeting. It's here and then it's gone, and it will never come back. And in the end -- at the risk of some high melodrama -- you die. Nothing works out in the end; in the end, everything you ever did, ever cared about, ever worked for, ever enjoyed, ever hated, is just gone. And even before that, each moment, each hour, each year, you lose your past, and it's never coming back. It's a pretty incredible thing about life. When I wrote this song, I was singing to an ex-girlfriend; our relationship had been over for years, and our lives had just trucked on. We had really cared about each other. I wrote this song when I realized that, well, it was over. That relationship was gone forever, no matter how much I cared for the girl. I wasn't exactly wishing I could have her back or anything; I was just thinking about how, no matter what happened, our lives had changed and that was behind me, behind us.
Now that I'm writing about this, it makes me think of a stanza from another song I wrote, another one I found myself singing just now. This one was also about a relationship that had fallen apart (although it subsequenly came back together, and the woman is now my wife). The lines are
My faith and my pride, and all the tears that I cried,
Were all lost for good when you said goodbye.
I found it very profound, the day I wrote that, that when you cry you lose those tears forever. They're part of your body; they come out of our eyes and roll down your cheeks, and they're gone. They're never coming back. I mean, the same can be said for, say, sweat, or fingernails, or dandruff, or hair, or hangnails, or probably every other part of your body. But there's something about the fact that, your natural emotional reaction to losing something includes shedding a part of yourself. And it's a nice parallel to the things you lose emotionally -- namely, in this case, your faith and pride.
Well, I'm sure I'm thinking about this because my life is on the edge of some major changes. I'm going to leave New York; I'm going to leave our friends here; I'm going to cease being a student and a bohemian type who lives in a shithole apartment and become an adult with a well-paying job who lives in a nice house. So I'm feeling this stuff about time rolling on, and things changing, and saying goodbye to the past, very acutely. But part of what's so incredible about it is that it's constantly going on. I sang another of my old songs today, and I was brought back to the time I wrote it. It must have been spring, because I was sitting outside at this little (really little, I don't think it had any indoor seating at all) coffee place at Houston and 1st or 2nd Ave. I was a young-ass motherfucker. I worked at a little record label. Everything, everything was different. I lived in an even smaller shithole. I drank constantly; I probably smoked most of the time too. I had long hair. I thought I was hot shit. (I wasn't.) I played music all the time. And I was somewhat rawer, emotionally. Or at least I was more interested in accessing my tragic side, the side of me that's blown away by the mysteries, pleasures, and pains of life and the world. It's the side that I associate with my mother. The part of me that believes crying is good, and being bowled over by something beautiful -- just taken down completely by something that you can't put into words -- is the goal in life. I always remember my mother crying when she put on a CD of Carmen. At the time, I was annoyed, frankly. But part of me felt like, now that is experiencing life. Just allowing it to stop you in your tracks altogether. Today, there's a big part of me that's skeptical of that -- I think my mother cries a lot of the time because she's not sure how else to handle things. I think it's a bit of a crutch: she can never actually do anything, and she can say it's because she's just such a raw nerve, so sensitive. Still, there's part of me that still wants to live like that. I've put lines in my songs about this too -- there's a line that says "my eyes will never be / dry, it's heavenly." That line is about this feeling. In that song, actually, the tears signify love and music -- a love song, really.
Anyway, back then, I was closer to that side of myself. Now I'm more practical, more grown-up. More boring. But I have to be, I have a responsibility to my wife. I have to keep my head on my shoulders, and I have to be willing to do things, and not let the beauty and pain of life stop me in my tracks.