Picture it: March 20th, 2003, New York. (I stole this set-up from Sofia on “Golden Girls).
I was driving down 87-South in my gold Ford Escort, still unable to part with my car although it would serve no practical purpose in my new home in Manhattan. In fact, it was such a nuissance, I drove it two hours north on April Fool’s Day to my parents and told them to sell it pronto. But, I digress. My life was in turmoil. The world was in turmoil. The US had just declared war with Iraq and I listened to NPR interviewing Joan Osbourne about her new album, “How Sweet It Is.” It was a collection of covers, many of which pertained to times at war. She spoke of her days in New York, struggling as a singer and making the rounds at different clubs. I nervously thought to myself, “This is my plan. That’s what I’m going to do.”
I’m not sure I’ve ever been that scared in my life and it’s funny because I had lived in New York for years. Somehow, this time was different. The station played, “I’ll Be Around” and her rendition moved me so profoundly that if I hear that song, I instantly go back to that moment in the car. Driving. Scared. I was about to move into an SRO (for you non-urban readers, a single-room-occupancy). Of all the more glamorous options I had, living with a family in a condo on Broadway and 74th, or renting with a roommate, I chose the independant route. I needed to regather in solitude. It wasn’t much solitude, as the walls were paper thin and I shared a bathroom and hallway with an African family of five, a Mexican couple, a Japanese man named “Choo” who would sneeze so much I’d count the sneezes to be spared the insanity, and a Russian guy who never bathed. Each family/individual shared a room no larger than 100 square feet. Seeing how much my neighbors struggled financially, I somehow felt incredibly blessed that I lived alone… that I was not entrapped in this place forever.
My first weeks back in town were rough, running around trying to land a “real” job. It never happened. It still hasn’t happened and that was just another blessing in disguise. However, during that struggling time, I was riddled with so much financial guilt, that I refused to spend money on the one thing I love the most- music. I used to walk to the Tower Records on 68th St. and stand there for hours, listening to Joan Osborne on repeat. I thought of her interview, how it all worked out for her… it just took time. I didn’t know how I would get the courage to sing, find the people to be on my team, or what I was going to do. I just felt the passion and hunger for it.
It’s four years later, and I can’t say I have much more of an understanding of how it will happen. But it will. Joan Osborne (though it hasn’t been promoted nearly as much as other nonsensical “entertainment” stories) just released a follow-up album called “Breakfast in Bed.” The girl even takes on “Sara Smile” by Hall and Oates… a song I’ve been wanting to add to my set but didn’t have the gall. She’s also doing a free concert in Park Slope on June 14th.Make that June 16th, MY show is on June 14th. For anyone in town, or interested in some good solid covers, check out her album. I’m not in love with the photo on the cover, but the productions are fabulous.