Earworm of the Week: Grace Potter, “Big White Gate”

Confession:  An old high school boyfriend had to bribe me to see Grace Potter.  If you know me now, this should make you laugh, because I may be Grace’s biggest fan… so indulge me for a minute while I tell the story.

It was 2007 and I was headed home to New Jersey for what seemed like the umpteenth time that year – and the trip happened to coincide with WXPN’s Xponential Music Festival, where my beloved Will Hoge was playing.  I had recently reconnected with my high school boyfriend Pete over a shared love of music.  He was also heading to XPN and had some passes to get into the autograph signing/artist area. He said, “Hey,  I’ve got these passes, you can go see Will…but you have to stay to see the headliner Grace Potter.”

Now, let me explain.  I am not the biggest fan of female singers.  I wish I could explain why, but I guess I just prefer male voices.  But for Will Hoge, I would endure just about anything, so I agreed to stay.

[Aside #1:  Clearly, now I think that Will and Grace should make little rock n’ roll song babies together… not actual children, you understand, but music… a duet with the two of them could possibly cause me to have a heart attack. I once made a mix CD for someone who didn’t know either of them called “Will & Grace.”  I’m clever.  I know.]

And when Grace and her little band of Nocturnals took the stage, it took one song for me to get it, and probably three songs for me to fall in love. Soul.  Energy.  Sass.  And my God, her freaking voice. She had it all. I refused to acknowledge it to Pete since I’d been so obstinate about it, but a few weeks later when her breakout album This is Somewhere was released, I immediately bought it and became Grace’s biggest advocate.  I told EVERYONE about her.  I’m lucky, I caught on at just the right time, as she and the Nocturnals were on their way up.  I got to see her at small venues with 50 people there [Aside #2: Some of the best concert photos I’ve ever taken have been of Grace.  I suck as a photographer, but these are good.] …now, of course, she sells out 1000+ attendance venues.  I’ve probably said this a million times since that night, but I’ll say it once more.  I have never wanted to be someone else in my whole life, but I would love to trade shoes with Grace for just one day (and damn, her shoes…how does she rock those 5-inch heels on stage for hours?).

Tonight, I will attend my ninth GPN show.  I will sing along.  I will dance.  I will envy her shoes.  And I will love every single minute of it.

[Aside #3:  Rumor has it Grace has been covering Bruce on this tour. You should all know that if she does cover him tonight, I will go completely apeshit.]

So, in honor of the show, this week’s Earworm is the first Grace song that I ever loved, “Big White Gate.”  It’s still my favorite.  I think it’s because it’s about loving music.  I kind of know how that feels.  Watch this video.  Listen to her introduction.

Finally, here’s my long overdue thank you to that old, high school boyfriend:  Thanks, Pete Calabrese.  You gave me the gift of Grace.  You will never know how much that means.

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Love and Art

“What’s the use, in pushing through, I’m already dead to you…” – Matthew Mayfield, “Dead to You”

I’m currently reading Linchpin by Seth Godin. It’s my first foray into Godin’s writing, other than the occasional flip through a column here and there that he’s written – and I’m utterly fascinated by his perspective. The book is about people in business who are integral players – those who innovate, break the rules when necessary, and basically set their own course. These people, by nature of their ability to envision things, become turnkey to the business – linchpins that are the “essential building blocks of the organization.”

As a critical part of this theory, Godin stresses that in each of us, there is an artist. The artist has a gift, and therefore has the ability to envision, to create, to inspire, to build. It is up to each of us to identify our gifts and put in the work to bring them to fruition. It’s easy to see how this applies to business – for example, I love writing. I’m a damn good writer. Therefore, it’s up to me to put myself into a situation that allows me to write, and then, to work at my writing, take chances, and…to quote Lloyd Dobler, find a “dare to be great situation.”

“Most of all, art involves labor. Not the labor of lifting a brush or typing a sentence, but the emotional labor of doing something difficult, taking a risk and extending yourself.

It’s entirely possible that you’re an artist.

Sometimes, though, caught up in the endless cycle of commerce, we forget about the gift nature of art, we fail to do the hard work of emotional labor, and we cease to be artists.”

– Seth Godin in Linchpin

In a conversation with a friend today, I told her that I thought I was dead inside when it came to relationships. I have effectively given up even trying to date. I’ve been burned too many times, disappointed more times than I care to admit, and have grown tired of having faith in people only to be let down. So, rather than invest myself in any further relationships, I have walled off my heart. It’s just easier to be by myself.

But it’s not better.

Last week, someone that I don’t know very well called me jaded. It upset me more than I wanted it to…because I think it’s true more than it isn’t. And it’s sad. Because I was once a girl who, like Carrie Bradshaw, wanted the fairy tale. And I am lucky that I inherited my Mom’s huge heart – there is a part of me that wants to give endlessly. I firmly believe that I am a better person when I’m in a relationship. I’m complete on my own, but I’m MORE when I’m with someone that I love.

I’ve stopped being an artist in my own love life. Because rather than put the work in, rather than risk getting hurt, I’ve just stepped away. Put no emotional labor in, you get nothing out. And in cutting myself off, I’ve just made myself more bitter and angry.

I’m not sure what the first step is to try to be an artist again. I don’t know if I can figure it out. But I am vowing to myself that I will try.

Thanks for the inspiration, Seth.