You ever notice how up tight and tied up become the same word if you string it all together like “ty-dup-ty-dup-ty-dup-ty-dup…”? ‘Cause I was listening to a song just now and that’s exactly what happened. Things have been a bit tied-up-tight lately. Danny stayed a month in my room. I played two shows. I played hours of frisbee in murderous heat, then in thunderstorm. I went to Kyoto, Kobe, Osaka, Tokyo, Hakone, and, uh, Takeno. All in all, it was a blast, of course, but fairly exhausting. I remember this same time last year feeling pretty much “spent.” It’s not just the heat. Things seem to pick up around this time and just wont let you go. My throat acted up again. It was pretty bad timing, and the situation didn’t help. Danny’s not just talkative, being with him, it’s practically a non-stop liberalist debate-club session. I’d tell him I needed to rest my voice, and about 2 minutes later he’d put 20 questions to me point blank. I can’t much blame him for being inquisitive, but there were practical considerations as well… people who visit Japan for the first time, with no Japanese or prior expectation, they usually need to be babysat more than your average traveller. Japan makes people helpless. Otherwise competent, world-wise travelers are suddenly reduced to begging help buying a subway ticket or ordering food. It’s eye-opening just how totally “unfriendly” Japan is to foreigners, despite its heavy tourism campaigns and indiscriminate hospitality.
Anyway, so not only was Danny talking my ear off 24/7, I had teaching and band practice in between. It was non-stop for Ed’s poor voice, and at times, I thought I was just going to crack. I nearly lost it a couple times, or rather, actually DID lose my voice entirely at one point… but what I mean is, nearly lost my sanity over it, mainly due to the fact that most people around me were fairly unappreciative of my situation, i.e. pain. This is probably due to the fact that there was really no change in the actually sound of my voice, or the quality of it, which made it hard to believe that I was actually having trouble with it. If someone croaks out a word like a frog trying to whisper, people are suddenly very sympathetic. When you sound normal but just keep rubbing your neck like you’ve got a nervous tic, not so much. It’s easy to forget, I understand. How can I blame them? And of course, it’s the boarderline hypochondriac in me that imagines all sorts of horrors… somehow “breaking” or ruining my voice forever due to overuse or some kind of awful infection. People often ask me why I’m sick so often… and sure, I guess I have issues more than your average guy my age. Sometimes I wonder if it’s psychosomatic and I’m just shitting myself over nothing again and again, over medicating, and worrying myself to an early grave. Or I’m just unlucky, or I have some kind of abnormally weak physiology, or all the abuse I wrecked on my body during college has come back to get me… or all of the above, or whatever. What’s notable is the peculiar advantage we, the hypochondriacs, have over your average, healthy youth. It’s that special, razor-like awareness of just how much you stand to lose, and even more so, how inevitable it is that you will indeed lose it all. It’s this awareness that makes me suddenly giddy when I’m out running and the song comes on, “I’m amaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazed!” and I look up at the blue hush above me, the lush softness of the world, the quaintness of it all – the neat little neighborhoods, rumble of the train, the rustle of rice stalks in the breeze, the hum of the insects… it’s the awareness that makes me hold my hand out the car window, grasping and releasing the wind in my fist, rubbing my fingers together in an almost painfully acute sensation of presence. The feel of it – fingers, wind, the warmth of the air, the direction of the sun, the smooth lacquer of the car door… passing, passing, passing. Beautiful.
This past week things have calmed, and again I have time to myself, to think, to listlessly pass the days as before. I missed it so much. I hadn’t realized how dependent upon solitude I’ve become. It makes me worry about re-adjusting to a life full of people again. Also, (of course) the throat unassumingly just sort of “fixed itself.” Almost on cue with Danny’s exit, it got better, more or less. And as if to prove it, tonight I had the most incredible “session” at my Taicho’s home studio. The members from Osaka Zeppelin came up and rocked with us. I sang and they all took turns with instruments… it was just so fantastic, we rocked out in the way that only happens when nobody’s really watching. You’re not putting on a show for anyone, just rocking for the fuck of it. We had these big stupid grins on our faces… we played almost two dozen songs (I think the final count was 21) and just basically went nuts. I mean, instrumentally, these guys are NUTS, but you shoulda seen their faces finally getting to play with someone who can actually PRONOUNCE the lyrics, let alone sing them. They were giddy. It was funny to see these tough-looking 40-somethings go apeshit for this rock ‘n roll like they were still 16 in their bedroom with their parents’ old turntable. And ooh, I wailed. I wailed and howled, screamed and growled. I smashed the gong and jumped and fist-pumped and fell down on the floor. “I can’t quit you…. BAAAAAAAAABE” and man, they’re just RIGHT THERE, I mean, perfectly on it, but not SO perfect that there’s no room to breathe. If I happened to jump from I can’t Quit You Babe to Whole Lotta Love in one breath, they were right there with me, and we even closed with an extended Dazed and Confused… he even pulled out the bow for the solo. Even when my throat felt like sandpaper and my ears were gonna bleed if they heard ONE more blazing solo…. even long after we should have stopped (the drummer had to drive all the way back to Osaka that same night) we just couldn’t. I’d start humming a tune and it was all over. I’m going to miss this kind of thing. I’m not sure anyone in the world can channel Zep the way we can. I’m not sure a night like tonight could happen anywhere else in the world. Yes, I must move on, and soon, but not too soon, I hope.