You ever break your own rules? Some
are useful yet broken almost as soon as they're discovered. Last week, almost
without meaning to, I spun a great set of music down at the
Room. The key was the selection that went into it beforehand. I asked
of each record: Would Jeff want to hear this? I ended up bringing Kinks,
Guided by Voices, Clash, Replacements, Townes van Zandt, Muddy Waters, Donovan,
CCR, Ray Charles, Leadbelly, Odetta, Beatles, Neil Young, Bee Gees (First
Album), Leo Kottke, Muppet Movie, Johnny Cash, Pink Floyd, Talking Heads,
T. Rex, Camper van Beethoven and a few more I can't remember. It started
with Buddhist chants, then two sides of Coltrane double LP played simultaneously.
After that the evening took care of itself. Met a lot of nice people and
the spirit was there. I remembered Vonnegut's Secret: Write with an audience
of one in mind. In his case it was his sister, who when she died young at
41 left him without his muse-in-reverse and he wrote his worst book,
Slapstick. I said, That's it!
Always select records with only one person in mind and dedicate the night
to them. This week I neglected to do that. I made vain attempts, but
I wasn't really holding another's ears in my hands.The set was contrived,
lacked spark, and fizzled by 12 o'clock. The lesson? Select with one person
in mind. The meta-lesson? If you make yourself a rule, stick to it. Or not.
It really doesn't matter.