Tuesday, June 12, 2012

6-10-12 Survival Jobs for Writer-Musicians – Starter Job #120 (Starting Out Again. . .in the Big Apple: love and making music)

(Well, after doing six weeks of blogging about my crazy big brother Tom -- may be rest in peace, and I’ll be working on finishing a book-length version of that story, with his writings interspersed -- I said I’d return to the original blog’s purpose: my survival jobs through the years.  Along the way, many other interesting things happened. . . like living in NYC, being part of the CBGB music scene, moving to England, visiting Paris, etc.  It’s been QUITE the life -- and it’s not even half over yet!)

So.  I returned to NYC in November 1982 with two full suitcases, my guitar, a duffelbag, bittersweet memories, and the hope that my old boyfriend was still crazy about me.  Well. . . he might have been, but he also had another girlfriend that he didn’t tell me about.  How I found out about that one?  I forget.  But, once I knew he was a liar and a cheat, I wasn’t standing for it.  It hurt like hell to be lied to and cheated on, but I was actually the third wheel, so that was even more humiliating.

Don’t know if it’s pride, ego, or self-preservation: I don’t make a habit of taking shit from anyone.  Nope. 

So, I moved on.  To hell with love -- I needed a job, and I needed to make music. 

First, as for the music: I had a not-great old Bacon tenor banjo (not a Bacon & Day or B&D banjo, but it suited my purposes).  I wanted to sing & play songs dressed up as a vintage girl country singer, and I had high heeled cowboy boots and a strange looking frilly dress in two pieces that had ruffles & lace and was bought in London.  I learned a song called “I Didn’t Know the Gun Was Loaded” and went to Folk City for a few open mics.  I was nervous as hell and wore “six shooter” cap guns strapped to my waist that I pulled out and shot off at key moments in the performance.

(below: that same banjo!)

At the time, performance art was starting to hit its stride; the likes of Lori Anderson and Karen Finley were making quite a splash and I thought, hey, maybe I can get into that whole thing.

Whatever.  I don’t remember what other gigs I had, but I wrote a few songs here and there and recorded them at home on my TEAC 4-track, which was cool.  I may not have been the best guitar/banjo/piano player and all, but the harmonies sounded good and I played lots of little parts on various instruments to flesh it out. 

Before moving to England, I bought a cute little studio piano (72 keys) and had it moved upstairs to my 5th floor walkup. . . four guys carried it up the five flights of stairs.  The piano cost me $600 plus delivery charges, and of course I tipped the deliverymen for all that work. . . like I couldn’t have waited for my building to get an elevator (which we did in the late ‘80’s and was a great help, lugging that piano out in 2008. . .).

(House is not a home without a piano. . . my Harrington studio piano)

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