Below you will find the results of my having challenged myself for a number of days to write a short story with a beginning and middle and an end inside of 30 minutes. Here is what I came up with. I hope you like it.
I was impressed. Lou had written eleven new songs – great ones – in less than a month.
I thought about that, a lot. He had broken up with Miranda, and this evidently rattled awake some dormant genius. Lou had been good for a few decent songs a year, but the new stuff he was bringing to practice was just killing me.
They were slow, easily broken things. They loped quietly and wandered and their chording was subtle. Open D tuning. Sad nocturnal drones. Lou tucked his chin in towards his chest when he sang them. In the past, he had mimicked Joey Ramone’s adenoidal wheeze. These new songs required a different approach. You almost got the feeling that Lou didn’t want to damage them – like he was borrowing expensive china from a woman he really loved.
We kept telling Lou how incredible this new stuff was. Lou’s brother, Alex, got pissy; he stopped coming to practice. I didn’t mind. One less guitar meant more room for Lou’s unexplored inspiration. The open D allowed harmonics to hang over the bass and drums. I would liken it to driving a car through an evening drizzle.
We drove two hundred miles to Brooklyn to play at a fucking Starbucks. No hipster coffee house for us. No house parties in Green Point. No. We hated that shit. There was a Starbucks in Brooklyn Heights that booked songwriters. We figured there’d be parking and free food. We called them up. Within 45 minutes, the manager called us back. Playing New York was easy if you just did it the smart way.
Lou was quiet the whole drive down. Lied down on the back seat.
We played at 630PM in front of a room full of unfolded Macbooks. Lou closed his eyes for the whole set, which was a first. An older guy wearing a flannel shirt knew the words to all of Lou’s songs. This blew my mind. I was aware that Lou often emailed record people in NYC. I assumed this was a producer. If he was trying to impress us with his knowledge of Lou’s stuff, he was overdoing it. Mouthing the lyrics and rocking his hips.
Afterwards, the manager gave us as much free coffee as we could drink. Just so we’d be awake on the drive home. 8PM.
He was really into our cover of “Pink Moon.”
In fact, everyone was into our cover of “Pink Moon.”
On the drive home – the very long drive home – Lou explained that he hadn’t written eleven new songs. He had simply learned how to play the entirety of Nick Drake’s Pink Moon, and taught us the songs from scratch, as if he had written them.
“I never said outright that they were mine,” he responded, at one point.