Bukowski? Are you serious? You’re fully trying to piss me off. And I like it.
Damien Jurado was amazing. Just amazing. I’m still a little in it i think. Have been all mixed up today—in the stomach and head. Listening to his music again brings it back—the purple lights, disco ball, shandy beers and him looking like a disgruntled gym teacher, shucking and jiving, running his fingers through his greasy hair.
It made me miss you so much. I long for you—your fingers and eyes and voice, long to lay down with you on a bed in all fifty states and all the continents, to rip a hole in time with our love and never come out. I don’t know. I could break just thinking about you because I know you’d put me back together, or at least be OK with the mess—with me in pieces. The writing is changing and it scares me. It feels like jumping a fast moving train where you don’t know where it’s headed. I’m so nervous. I almost threw up again today, maybe the sunburn, maybe the fact that my heart seems to have descended to my liver. I don’t know.
Jurado is having a tour of the fifty states, did you know that? He was in a small town in Spain and he loved it so much that he wondered why he didn’t tour the USA in the way he toured Europe so he started this project where over the next few years he’s going to do the “small market,” cities in eery state. he’s starting in Ohio. The stage was just him, an American flag and a bottle of seltzer. I took a picture. He looks purple.
I know it’s a flimsy word but there are something about his performance that was so real. His pick up wasn’t working a ht top of the show and a couple roadies came onstage to help him out—guys he had known for a while,
“Eh, it’s fine. can we just mic it?” he asked.
“Sure, why not.”
And they did. It seems simple but the transparency of it meant something to me. He hung out after the show and I met him. He seemed effortlessly normal.
The concert was at Beachland Ballroom located in the rapidly developing neighborhood of waterloo. It was built in the 1950s as the Croatian Liberty Home and used as a social and political gathering place Some of that rec hall feel still pervades the place Murals with what look like the Eastern European version of a Mariachi band line the walls and the chairs are those black plastic and metal ones I associate with public buildings and bar mitzvahs. I wondered if there were other reasons Jurado decided to do this tour now—conscious or unconscious—if he felt, perhaps, that after the election there was maybe more of an compelling reason for people to gather together and enjoy something. Or maybe it was just as he said, that he was tired of getting up early and driving fourteen hours to play at a radio station in some city he didn’t really want to be in. “I kept missing all these local farmers markets because I had to get on a bus,” he explained.
He kept sassing the audience too. I was amazed at how sensitive he was to their (our) reactions, movements, comments. Sometime between “Visions of us and the land” and “Working Titles” somebody requested “Ohio.”
“Ehhhhh, I’ll think about it,” he said, obviously planning on playing it later on. “See now you’ve ruined the surprise,” he said.
“Don't’ play it!” called out somebody else as an alliterative.
Upon hearing this, Jurado, paused, then laughed, then imitated the guy:
“Don’t play it!!”
The audience laughed.
“Ok, here’s what’s gonna happen,” he continued, “I’m NOT gonna play Ohio, and everybody’s gonna beat this guy up.”
Nervous laugher spread. The security guard moved to the front of the stage. I got a little antsy myself but he expertly diffused the tension he’d built. This kind of surreal anti climax climax perpetuated through the whole set. He made me understand troubadours more thoroughly—how bringing a ballad around in person to various audiences does something, makes you feel like you’re part of something, some emotional and cultural story that’s bigger than you and at the same time seems to be contained within one person with a voice and an instrument.
Am I making any sense to you? Perhaps this is all just a given in live music and I need to see more of it but I think right now to feel a part of something bigger than me that’s not violent politics or God with a capital G, feels important. Last night I thought I had a lifeline to whatever that bigger something is, in Cleveland between the hours of 9pm and 11pm. Then the Cavs lost and all of Ohio exhaled while some of them cried.
I’m already getting sad to leave. Can you believe it? Just today it’s like I’ve wrapped myself in a blanket of nostalgia and every moment has become excruciatingly beautiful. Like the song Kola:
Now I look back upon my time
See the snapshots of my life
You will not be surprised
To see you name across my smile
To see you name across my smile
And I will remember you
I will remember you
I will remember you
the way you are right now
I’m breathing through the melancholy and letting everything burn and glow. I’m riding my bike. I’m listening to Damien Jurado from my iPhone in this white box in Cleveland.
What would I do without you? I love you so much it’s stupid.