Wilco - How to Fight Loneliness
My brother writes songs for Broadway. In the sense that they’re for Broadway. Like gifts, or homemade offerings—a tub of brownies, a hand-sewn sweater, a series of pen-and-ink drawings—not a job, in other words. Not something that anyone has asked for, or that anyone in particular is expecting, or that anyone—to be cruel about it—even wants, or could even want, in this world, as it is now, as if the brownies were laced with mahogany, the sweater from pure belly-button lint, and the drawings entirely of himself, knees splayed and naked in the bathtub. That word for. Like a car that’s for sale, like a rose that’s only for you, grown for you and given to you, and like all those endless envelopes that all those Broadway producers must have received and must still receive, marked in my brother’s cursive: for your consideration—and then all those curt notes, curtly returned: not for us, they must say, this piece is simply not for us.
Early encouragement. It could happen to anybody. Talent! Promise! Progress! Prospects! Little shows, little venues. On the town, playing On The Town, like a little Liberace. He was good. He was cute. He made some influential people start to cry. Summers at the county fair, semesters at the conservatory. But then the incipient rising thing. Not just that he was by now pear-shaped. Not just that he was by now known professionally as Persimmon. For a year he only ate salmon cakes. For a month he only spoke in verbs. And his songs—they got all weird. Songs about sherry vinegar. The Minnesota Vikings. Invectives set to verse, condemning the Erie Canal. And then, as if by miracle, one catchy tune, in Pocahontas II, over the credits (you can look it up), and then… nothing.
And then… fried chicken. And the years where he just lay fallow, in his bed, with his headphones on, his index fingers Italianating in mid-air, pendulating the crescendo—Adante, Adantino! Accelerando! Mosso! Mosso!—the imaginary orchestra, the imperious chin position, the garlic knots, seeping grease through the bag onto the sheets beside his pillows. Rise! Rise and begin to sing! The walking in tight circles, the talking to himself.
I’m giving you the overture.