Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Rat's Gonna Stick Out

In the past few weeks, I've had a chance to go out and see a bunch of bands: we've either gone to a few street festivals (they're really cramming them in), or we're out anyway and we've dropped in to see a band. And if not seeing a band, I've been to a couple of parties lately where I'm running into people from the "scene" who remember my band. And in all these situations, I get asked when we're going to play again. And over the past few years, my excuse has been: "We'll I haven't got time. I've got a toddler and I barely have time to pick up my guitar, much less rehearse with a band. I don't even have guitar callouses, I just about remember my three chords, shit, I just about know how to play my own songs. "

"Oh, and I really want to drop at least 20 more pounds before I step on stage again." Which is a nice way to say "And, uh, well, I'mfat..Isn't that enough reason to stay off the stage?"

We all know that's an excuse, because I was fat when I first started playing, and somehow people managed to find value in my music and performance. And, I have often lately mused to people, "As Anna Nicole Smith has taught us all, if you're a blonde with big tits, it matters not that you are fat." So the fat isn't the issue. It's a symptom of the issue. And I had a revelation this week. Its not the fat I've gained. It's not the toddler (who's now 3, he's become a full-fledged KID) taking up my time.

Its my moxie. I've lost it, and I have to get it back.

I size myself up musically, and I'm not seeing the big picture of myself anymore. Let's face it, my voice? I wouldn't last 15 seconds with Simon Cowell. My guitar playing? Well, I'm better than Kelley Deal, but people tell me I'm a great guitar player, and I'm here to tell you, I'm not. My husband is a great guitar player. My bass player is a great guitar player. But I think cloudy hindsight (I won't go so far as to say "legend") has taken over the fact that, well, I know my chords and can play some cliche leads but I'm no Matt Brandabur, and I'm thusly afraid I won't live up to my hype. I've written some OK songs. But somehow, we got fans. Somehow, we even got a teeny little paragraph in Billboard. For some odd reason, people still have our bumperstickers on their guitar cases and even the bumpers of their cars, and I still see Loblolly T-shirts being worn. It's not that cool a logo, apparently people liked the band. How the hell did I pull this off? How did a fat, oddly-voiced, quirky songwriting and marginal guitar-playing blonde chick with a gap in her front teeth that rivals Lauren Bacall's manage this? On paper, I really couldn't tell you. The only thing I can think of is that I had moxie. (Note use of past tense.)

And the fact that I've been telling people "Well, I'll get the band back together when I lose 20 more pounds" is just a cover. It's as though deep down inside, I know I won't lose those 20 pounds, and thus my excuse for not putting on my best cool band clothes, not strapping on my Rickenbacker, not plugging it in, and not getting up on stage and screaming out my blues is safely locked in. I can get on stage and do joke bands easily. (Speaking of Anna Nicole, I did appear at Trash Fest as Patti Nicole Smith, singing the legendary punk priestess' top songs decked out in all my fatness, with Anna's dreadful tinny drawl, just picture it: "The boy looked at Johnny…") I can do joke bands. I can put on a disguise and be a degenerate German chanteuse braying out a Pixies cover. But my own real band? With my own real songs? Did I set that 20-pound deadline in order to avoid dealing with what has turned into a severe case of total stage fright?

Worse yet, am I going to let that stage fright sabotage my weight loss goals? And is that why I've only dropped 25 pounds in the past year, despite this blog, despite my efforts, despite the support of everybody who reads this blog and has laughed and cried with me in this phat little community of ours?

Reasons why I should be getting my moxie back:

  • Everytime I go out and see somebody on the scene, they ask me "So, when's Loblolly going to play again?" I need to learn believe that this isn't just polite conversation. If people just need to start a conversation with me, they could always ask "So, how's your kids? How's your photography going? How's that writing going? Still working at Anonymous Law Firm?" No, these people really want to see this band play. With me in it.

  • Really, I have one of the best drummers in town (and I'm not saying this to pump him up...enough people have said in different contexts, "Yeah, Andy Pagel man. He's one of the best drummers in town") who has been on my case to play with Loblolly again. For years. And I keep blowing him off with excuses. It's not like he has nothing to do. He's totally in demand, he's playing with a variety of bands (from a western swing band, to a Velvet Underground tribute band, and he even gets to pretend he's Keith Moon in a Who tribute band.). He's not wanting for gigs. He wants to play in MY band. He wants to play MY songs. Enjoy this, V'ron. Believe it.

  • My bass player, Dan Mullen, who is a very good guitar player (he's my guitar teacher for chrissakes) wants to get the band back together again. He's said he's totally up for it. He has rehearsal space. He has the time, now that he's no longer in the band that he made his name in. His songs rock, and he's come into his own as a stage performer. He's finally found his voice, and he's using it. He's busy with as many bands as Pagel. In fact, he's in half those bands with Pagel: that VU thing (with a "Nico" who can actually sing, unlike the real, constantly flat, Nico!), a Buddy Holly/Greatest Hits band, and god knows what other fun things Mark Shurilla can come up with. He's totally a snob, and won't waste his time with untalented performers (I've heard him whine about this). So why the hell would he want to be in a band with me? Clearly I must bring something to the table. On top of that, he's been recruited to play guitar with another terrific band, with another saggitarian egotistical performer, but yeah, right, that's going to last as long as I lasted in a band with Stoney Rivera.

Don’t get me wrong, Stoney Rivera is a great, great performer, and the Psycho Bunnies was great fun to be in, for the five months we lasted before we "exploded in a pyre of pulled hair, damaged egos, and broken guitar strings." Love that girl, love her, I tell you,, and thank her immensely for the break she gave me, the trip to England she dragged me on with the band, and honestly, the moxie (there's that word again) she helped me find. But except for staged reunion shows, we should never, never, never be in a band together again. I learned a lot from her; she is not exactly a waif herself. It appears I need to re-learn a few things from her.

OK, here's what I have to do:

  • Lose the damn 20 pounds already. It's not an excuse anymore. It's a good milestone. Note new milestone listing on this blog's sidebar.

  • Pick up that guitar again. Tonight. I'm picking up the guitar to-fucking-night, after I get home from soccer and swim lessons with the kids at the Y. No excuses. I learned my three chords back in 1990, I can re-learn them again. Just the other day, Stella discovered that her acoustic guitar got totally broken over the weekend, the neck snapped off like Pete Townsend had gotten hold of it. I remember getting that guitar for her when she was Sammy's age, and the reason I got it was so that I could practice on my guitar and she'd have her own instead of bugging me to play mine. Elmo's guitar just wasn't cutting it for her anymore. So, probably, to facilitate this, I'm going to have to replace that child's acoustic guitar, because I know Sammy's going to be just like Stella, he's not going to let me play unless he has his own axe. He's like this with everything else in my life: my camera, cooking, biking, computer: "Let me try!" He's three. He's a boy. He's my Sammy. $30 for a ToysRUs "First Step" guitar will be totally worth it to keep him out of my hair.

  • Speaking of hair, I have a hair appointment in a few weeks with one of the best colorists in town. I still have the big tits, but need a little help with the blonde. And its not just the hair color itself I need help with. I need to remember how to be a Blonde again.

Because it matters not that I am fat, and not that great a singer, and an OK songwriter, and a marginal guitar player. The fat is just a symptom, and I will not let it be an excuse, nor will I let my stage fright be an excuse for not losing the fat. Besides, as Marty Balin grudgingly admitted about Grace Slick in 1968: "You put six ducks and a rat on a stage together, the rat's gonna stick out." And what makes the rat stick out? Moxie.

3 comments:

ericka said...

You're gonna be a rat again in no time, Vron! I've got total faith in you, luv.

hang tight! :)

kdk13 said...

You can do it! And then Gar and I can come see you play.

Annie said...

Incoming to your email. Free advice! Love ya girlfren.