Maybe you've seen it. It's been all over social media this week. But maybe you haven't, and that's where I come in.
David Letterman is down to three more shows before he hangs up his white socks and tie and retires to Montana. The last few weeks of shows have been stellar, with names big and not so big, making scheduled and unscheduled appearances to offer up love and farewells, many shedding tears in the process. Now, that's entertainment.
Tom Waits stopped by last week, and in one of television's more surreal moments, did five minutes of hilarity, while George Clooney sat behind his shoulder, handcuffed to Dave. That would have been enough. But then he performed a new song, just for Dave, and it was my turn to shed some tears.
I've been having a conversation with myself since that episode. Part of the conversation dates back to a chat-turned-ugly with one of my oldest and very best friends. This was in the wake of Bruce & The E Street Band performing an impromptu version of AC/DC's "Highway To Hell" on the opening night of their Australian run a couple of years ago. I, along with thousands of others including those in the arena, loved it. But my friend couldn't appreciate it, citing the many things he found wrong with it-wrong key, flubbed lyrics, altered melody. When I explained that this was probably just cooked up backstage as a tribute to the Australian fans, he just laughed and offered up the fact that "Highway To Hell" isn't a very difficult song to learn. I think he missed the point completely, but more importantly, I was made to feel foolish for loving something so imperfect.
The other part of the conversation was imaginary, one that I was predicting might happen. It was between me and those friends of mine who don't like Tom Waits. I thought about how much I was moved by Tom Waits new song, how I hoped it was written specifically for Dave Letterman and how the lyrics could also apply to all of us. I was excited by the prospect of seeing people I know and love and those I only know of, revel in the beauty and sincerity of "Take One Last Look." Then, the chat turned ugly, with me fending off those who will mock Waits' voice, hair and guitar-playing ability. Those who might miss the point again.
The last of my imaginary conversations with myself took place yesterday after an e-mail exchange with a bass player friend of mine. He intimated that he might be interested in jamming with me and some of the guys. I launched into the talk that might take place if I were to make the suggestion to my band members, how we have to loosen up, not be locked into note for note recreations of songs. I foresaw an argument over the definition of the word "jam," and how we don't. Of course, none of this took place and there's a good chance it won't. But this is what I do. I create the beginning, middle and outcome of things before they are played out. This can't be healthy, but it is sometimes useful.
When I finally stopped talking to myself, I decided, at least for a few hours, that I should stop allowing unavoidable events to diminish my emotion regarding the things I love. But that is no small task for a man of my personality. If you're still reading, you will have most likely experienced first hand my sarcasm, my excitement and my dismay and loss of composure, sometimes all regarding the same artist or song. And if you know me personally, you have definitely been on the receiving end of what can occasionally seem like endless attempts at trying to make you see me way. I won't apologize for that. As another dear friend likes to say, "There's nothing worse than indifference."
Things don't need to be perfect. Not in music, not in life. They just need to be sincere. You can fuck up along the way, just mean it and have a soul while doing it.
"All we ever need, we can get anywhere."