It’s been a minute since our last update. To be honest, I’ve been avoiding it, the posting. Sometimes it’s just easier not to talk, you know? To keep it light. I had some shows this week and I was having to make some tough decisions about whether or not to cancel them, or pretend that everything is fine. So I pretended.
Monday night I played a show in Nashville with Lisa Loeb. Wow! If you are older than 33 you probably remember her crazy smash hit song, “Stay.” I bet you’re humming it right now. The movie it was attached to, Reality Bites, came out my senior year of high school, which means it took root deep in my adolescent heart, such that I think Ben Stiller is still an asshole. That character he played. Ugh.
But anyway, whatever happened to my voice happened more than 3 weeks ago now, and while it’s a little better, it’s still not even close to okay. It's not a professional voice. I feel dumb talking about it, but the point of this blog is to describe the journey of making this new record, Thousand Springs. And whether I like it or not, this is the shape my journey is taking. So, I guess I gotta deal with it.
Monday night was the Lisa Loeb gig. In the afternoon, I went into my primary care physician and got a steroid shot. It didn’t do anything, but by then it was too late to cancel - I would have left everyone in the lurch (to use an amazing underused phrase). So I got my guitar and went through the first half of 5 of my mellowest songs. I could sort of do it, as long as I didn’t sing loud. I dropped the tuning on the guitar down a whole step for insurance and at the show I talked slow and sang quiet and I read a story from my book. It was mostly fine. I had fun and people laughed and Lisa and I ate cupcakes afterward (not a euphemism) and I felt like it went as well as it could have gone.
Voice still felt real weird though. So tight and no big notes at all. Plus I’m supposed to go to Europe in a few weeks, which will be a lot of singing. I’ve talked to several singer friends throughout this, and one thing I was worried about was that I had a vocal hemorrhage or something that could turn into a long-term injury, which reckless as I am, I yet do not want. So I sorted out an ENT visit.
That was Wednesday. It was remarkably unpleasant! The specialist stuck a long skinny camera in my nose. I don’t know exactly what it looked like because I kept my eyes closed. But that was what I was paying for, so okay fine. The camera went through my left nostril and down into my throat and the doctor took a long look and had me say ‘eeeeee’ over and over. Then he slid it out and the cycle of discomfort was complete.
To my relief he said there was no physical damage, and that my talking voice actually sounded pretty good. He said I should rest as much as I can, and that if I start singing in an unnatural way, then to keep an eye on that.
The problem is, I still can’t sing. Something is definitely off. I was recording last night and I couldn’t get my voice to do the thing it’s done for 35 years. It just isn’t working. I don’t know what’s going on…the muscles in my neck hurt and everything in my body feels tight. It sounds terrible. And last night, as I was singing through a not-very-difficult song I got more and more frustrated. I just want to do what I've been able to do, you know?
I finally gave up and went to bed. I woke up two hours later in a gross wet sweat. I thought about all the things I always think about. Afraid my career is over, that I'll never be able to sing again. That I'm turning into one of those mental people who have problems no one else can see.
In the meantime I'm carrying on like everything is fine. Keeping up with the facebook posts, the emails and show advertisements. I don't know what else to do. I can't just stop working because my body feels like it's falling apart. I have to pay rent. And in order to do that, I have to tour, and in order to do that, I have to sing. I really don't know what's going on now and I feel powerless to do anything but believe it's going to be okay, and to carry on like my voice will come back. What else can I do?
Also I would be an incomplete truth teller if I didn’t acknowledge there stuff going on in my life right now that I guess you could call spiritually adverse. It’s so heavy it’s just not appropriate to share with anyone really, but I’ve been keeping it inside for so long now - pretending everything is fine - that I think it’s starting to poison my body. I haven't had a good night's sleep in more than a year and lately I wake up every night and go through all of it in my head again and again until the sun comes up and then I make a cup of coffee and say some prayers and try to keep it to myself.
Even this post is embarrassing. But I'm kind of reaching the limits of what I'm capable of dealing with. I never talk to anyone about it, ever. But at this point the shit inside is very literally strangling me.
So I’m going to spend some time tomorrow trying to describe my situation. I don't really want to, but I've come to a point where I don't know what else to do. Maybe it will help me. Maybe it will help some other people. Something’s gotta give, and if you’re going to crash and burn anyway, you may as well tell the truth the whole way down. You are welcome to refrain from attending.
I just found this picture from the first day I was in Idaho, recording. A little over a month ago. Wow. That seems like a long time ago. I remember how I felt when I took this picture. Like the earth moved forward through the sky. I had a good feeling.