Strange days, right? And they only seem to get stranger. Like we’re all living in some kind of Jim Morrison song. You all, like me, are probably finding a lot of solace through music. By sheer luck, a couple weeks ago my cousin, who’s property my wife and I live on in the mountains of Santa Cruz, CA, decided that we needed a turntable in the little 12×12 cabin we hang out in high up on a hill that has one of the finest mountain views in the county. This, obviously, began the obsession of finding records and enjoying time travel through the snaps and pops of warm, old vinyl in a softly lit wooden room as we enjoy beers and conversation. Music quickly became the vehicle for fellowship. This is one of the many silver linings popping up everywhere.
And, as I am sure many of you know, there are silver linings to be found on Facebook right now. Touring musicians who have watched their gigs canceled wholesale for the coming months and watch their incomes disappear in moments are turning to those who love them for help. In the past four days alone there has been an awakening of creativity in the wake of this pandemic and its subsequent lockdowns.
Nathan Moore, for example, might have been training for this very moment for the better part of the past decade. A good day for Nathan is hermetically sealing himself in his basement in Virginia with the music technology he has amassed to run his own underground radio station. Everything was in place for just this time. As events unfolded, he felt his call and re-launched his Hippy Fiasco Rides Again (if you don’t know about this project from years ago, Google it!), calling on musicians and music lovers to join him and collaborate on music-making, playing a game of Connect Four and just talking. He’ll play a song (the sound quality is BEAUTIFUL by the way) and there is no shortage of heart in lyrics written decades ago but have gained new luster with their relevance in current events. And there is talk about everything. Nathan, as most musicians, come on when they have time (and they have A LOT of time) right now to live stream songs old and new, and create a sense of support that is palpable and as organic as any live show you saw a month ago. There is a lot of comfort there. Just yesterday I saw wonderful streams from Willy Tea Taylor, Jordan Smart, Reed Mathis, and Marty O’Reilly all within a few hours. Silver linings, indeed.
After dinner on Sunday, and before the now obligatory evening movie that always follows, my wife and I saw Nathan, Willy Tea, Jordan and The Sam Chase drinking together via Facetime. These are our friends – our people that we miss and, somehow, they had wormed their way into our living room, were on our TV and what else could we do but crack beers and drink along with them? The stream culminated with Jordan reading chapter 14 from Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (if you have not read it, do it – now) and this brought everyone in that stream into deep connection despite the miles that separate us. As Jordan says, “We maybe apart but we are not alone.”
So go and find your favorite musicians, get a notification set up for whenever they go live and sit down and share this crazy life we are living together with them. While you’re there, if you have the means, donate some money to their Venmo or PayPal accounts, buy their merch, stream their albums endlessly on Spotify (it’s not much they get but it’s something from every play). Think for a minute about how their music has impacted your life (probably daily) and quantify that as best you can. Help them through their tough times and they, no doubt, helped you through yours. At the end of the day, it will be art and shedding our individualistic mindsets for a communal sense of “we” that will get us through this time.
Continue to look out for one another, check-in with your loved ones, air hug your people and stay in contact with your tribe no matter how far away they may physically be. And make some art. Exercise the parts of your brain that you haven’t been able to flex for a while.
WE can get through – together.