Name It and Claim It: Giving Thanks To A Friend
Today I want to thank my old friend Dave Handley with whom I traveled through Europe a long time ago. That trip was the basis for the entire European section of my book Ticket to Ride. I should say I’m sorry that I never mentioned Dave as having even been with me on that trip. But that’s the way of fiction and that’s the way I spent a great deal of my life. Though in the company of friends and family a good deal of the time, I still, most times felt very alone. Not in the sense that I lived a lonely life. It was just that I very much felt a sense of my being on a journey and a journey I had to go on alone at that time.
It was on that trip that I decided I wanted to do something with the music that seemed to be bubbling up inside of me. Dave and I made some garage recordings of my first 4 songs and soon after Dave decided to move Colorado to live with his mother. We had gone as far as naming ourselves The Honest or Elvis Christ or something like that. Magic happened when Dave and I collaborated and though I was very excited at the prospect of continuing in that vein, it was not to be. The funny thing is that the night Dave and I went out to toast to his new direction we met a drummer and a keyboardist. Funny the directions and random situations life throws at you. I remember feeling that this was a sign that Dave shouldn’t go but he was deadset on it and music was to take a backseat to college and my pursuit of my other dream; the writer’s dream of being a novelist. Looking back I realize I wasn’t ready for the responsibility of being a communicator through song as I’d yet to put my ego in check and might’ve been inclined to seek the “sex, drugs and rock n’ roll” syndrome that steals the souls of so many of our greatest musicians.
I gave my only copy of those garage songs to a band called “Two Left Hands” in Santa Cruz while in college. My hope was that someone could make use of my songs as I couldn’t manage to learn the guitar and thought I’d just pass them along. They were playing in a smoky bar by the beach and I guess things got a little crazy that night cuz the lead singer’s girlfriend misplaced the tape and, with that, I figured music just wasn’t my direction.
With that said, I thank Dave for helping me to bring my songs into the world, however short-lived. Dave was, and I hope still is, a natural with the guitar. I haven’t heard from him in quite a while aside from a brief back and forth on Facebook a few years ago. He did show up for my wedding back in the late 90s but was unable to conjure a best man’s speech, which I’ve since taken as a sign that my marriage was ill-fated.
The music dream went away for a while but came back a couple of years ago after I finished my novel and when I found I could do much of my music composition on my own. While The Julian Day is primarily a one-man operation, it’s people like Dave and my son who’ve shined their light onto my dreams and eventually made them into a reality. It is because of them that I call The Julian Day a band as they, and others, are always with me when I’m in that “fine frenzy” that I call the creative act.
I’ll never forget what Dave told me about songs that end with a slow fade out. He said it was cop out and something like laziness that left musicians wondering how to close a song. It’s because of this, that I’ll never employ the slow fade and always strive to end each song with a bang, or even a whimper, but never, never ever, a slow fade. This also reminds me that Dave was vehemently opposed to using “untitled” to name any work of art. It’s tempting sometimes and I think I know why it’s used; creating mystery and all, but I have to agree with Dave that it feels a little pretentious and disingenuous.
“Name it and claim it” a neighbor once told me. “Name it and claim it.” Does it matter that my neighbor was a black woman and had a way of saying it that was so much cooler than I could ever hope to phrase it myself? At any rate, it’s good advice for a lot of things.
I’m now working diligently on a new EP, set tentatively, for release toward the end of this month. It’s a hell of a challenge to begin recording again after months on hiatus. A craftsman always wants to do himself one better each time he walks up to the canvas. And when you feel like you’ve already done your best work, besting your best is a hell of a test. So there’s a rhyme, maybe I can still put some words together. Aw hell, I’m just gonna have fun with it and see if I can string together a handful of 3 minute ditties.
I’ve not done any vocals yet but I have 3 or 4 nearly complete songs. I have lyrics for 3 and need to cough up lyrics for 1 or 2 more. I’ve written dozens of poems but not all translate into music. Good thing I don’t have a record label breathing down my neck.
I’m hoping to collaborate with some other like-minded folks, maybe for this EP or maybe later. For now I’d just like for everyone who’s supported the music of The Julian Day to know that I deeply appreciate all the love and support you’ve shown me and I look forward to offering you something, hopefully new and hopefully exciting some time in the near future. I, at the very least, hope not to hurt your ears.
Peace My Friends!
Mahalo Nui Loa,
(aka Julian Day)