I’ve been having an ongoing conversation with a reader who actually listens and responds to my Trios named Grant since i got out of the hospital, and it’s brought something about myself to light that is central to my current unhappiness. In short, i am imprecise. It isn’t because i lack attention to detail, or the intelligence or skill to see such details through, but because they require too much time and energy. Why do i like to act but not to do shows at Drexel? Because i like the thought of acting as getting on stage and portraying a character, but i don’t like doing the same lines and the same movements the same way every time.
Of course, in almost any semi-professional theatre the entire point is to assimilate the direction and be able to replay it in a consistent fashion. Last night the roomies and I went to see Les Liaisons Dangereuses at the Wilma Theatre, and i was in awe of not only the acting that i saw, but the very precise physicality of the acting. The flounces, the scoffs, the deep breaths … all things that add tremendously to a performance, and all things i tend to gloss over without noticing.
I don’t pretend to be much of an actor; in fact, i quite hate it. Looking back at all of the shows that i’ve done i cannot honestly say that i enjoyed a single role that i’ve portrayed. In each occasion my happy memory is connected to the people i produced a show with rather than my performance itself. As such, i can hardly fault myself for not enjoying the intracies of acting … i simply don’t give a shit.
Where Grant comes is is my songwriting. I might claim to hate acting, but i don’t think anyone can be convinced that i dislike writing and performing my own music; in fact, most of the time it would seem to be the only thing i like to do. Grant has been listening to my songs in in his last email he posed the following question: What do i have against finger-picking? My composing is, almost as a rule, devoid of all riffing and picking unless it’s been specifically inserted. In fact, any song of mine that has acquired a set pattern of picking is by definition in a higher stage of evolution than a song without (see Under My Skin vs. Tangling, or an older Never Say Goodbye vs. its demo version).
My first response to the question was simple: i don’t like to finger-pick. It’s something i’m capable of, but if you listen to my musical influences they are not fluttery pickers — i don’t like the shimmery sound of it. However, there are a vast majority of Peter Mulvey and Ani DiFranco songs where they punch out precise riffs in the midst of their frantic strumming, and of late these riffs have been absent from my songs (examples of which can be found in Lost or Bridge). Suddenly my defense just isn’t; in the past i’ve riffed and rocked, so why don’t i do it all the time?
I don’t know where i was going with this. I don’t fingerpick; i don’t like to fingerpick. I don’t act; i don’t like to act. So, if i’m not doing the things i don’t like, why am i so miserable?