Red Leigh Cooper

Red Leigh Cooper

Sunday, March 1, 2015

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been

     How cool is that?  That's me...see? Really tiny on that stage in the middle...the one with the red hair?  It's been an incredible year...

     I recently realized I hadn't touched this blog in a year.  A whole year.  I thought this might happen.  I mean, once you "grab the starfish" you have to go out there and live the dream, right?  Wait...did I just refer to my purpose as the dream?  I guess when I started this blog it was about finding out what my purpose on this planet was, and I suppose the vehicle by which it was delivered too, but, really, is that necessarily the "dream"?  Before we get to that, let me explain what's been going on from where we left off with each other.

     My band got back together. It's part of the purpose I had discovered for my life ("No Diving in the Shallow End"). The very same band that caused me to question who I was and whether I should be  able to be happy after what happened ("What Doesn't Kill You" ).  Yup. Them. Stonekracker. At first I was excited that we could all exist in the proverbial "water under the bridge" space and felt like that hole in my heart was going away ("The Donut Hole").  It's been one of the best band experiences I've ever had really.  We have greater freedom to create, ego's aren't the problem they were when we were younger, and some of the pressure to "make it" that comes with being a younger person is gone. I play guitar now and I didn't before. People come and see us play and we have so much fun. We are all much older and wiser now.  Piece of cake, right?

    You will never know what you are made of until you are faced to be in contact day after day with the one person in your life who did the most emotional damage to you. Navigating the waters with my lead guitarist, Marc, has been...well...I've described it as a yo-yo.  It just hasn't been easy, and that's for both of us. The old conversations, the way everything went down, the feelings of betrayal between two people who had trusted each other completely at one point; these things come back just by looking at the other one.  Sometimes that's really all it takes. You can't stop the movie from playing.  It just switches on...except it's a horror movie instead of a John Hughes coming of age type movie.

    He apologized over Facebook a few months before we started playing together and I readily accepted that apology, but as you all know, for me, forgive doesn't mean forget. Somewhere around February last year, I was starting to think that we were never going to be on the same page ever again and that there would always be this "thing" that would always be between us.  Some days I still feel that way, but it was at that moment, almost out of the blue, almost as if I was being given a gift from God, he handed me this leather bound book.  It had music stanzas on the front, tied closed with a tiny ribbon, and bore his name at the top.  He told me it was a collection of song lyrics he had written. I felt like this would be a breakthrough for us.  An olive branch to maybe stop the emotional bleeding and start rebuilding the trust.  These were his personal thoughts...and he wanted me to read them.  He wanted to let me back into his life on some level.

     I read it ravenously.  It was all I thought it would be.  It confirmed much for me about him and about us. Then I left him something inside it upon its return...

     Months before he gave me the book, I wrote my apology to him for what had happened between us, but I didn't do it on Facebook.  I had written a song entitled "Fight".  I tucked the lyrics inside his book and was honestly not prepared for the reaction when he found them days later.  Marc was so moved he stayed up for days writing the music, trying to capture the desperation, loneliness, and regret that I had spelled out on the page... 

     ...and he did...and it was amazing.  The song, however, didn't see the light of day until the band recorded it in October for an acoustic compilation we were going to be on. The song, although absolutely remarkable, was too painful, but we agreed that it was finally time to release it.  Over the last year we also killed our entire back catalog of old songs and wrote all new ones so it's been a busy time.  I've been working on repairing my relationship with Marc, writing new music, trying to keep my head above water playing the guitar...I also did start a new job that has taken me a little off of the accounting trail as I thought should happen. I've really been working at all of those things I found out about myself and what I'm supposed to be doing with my life...or have I?

     Marc and I during this time had also decided to start a business together.  He's an audio engineer and wanted to get back into recording and producing bands.   I was over at my friends Jeremy and Amy's house last weekend picking up some business cards that Jeremy has made for our business.   Jeremy is an amazing graphic artist and has his own small business, Punk, Rock, Love - Illustration and Design.  We were sitting around talking when Amy asked me why I went into business with Marc.

    "It's Marc's dream to do this and I want to help him do that," I explained.

    "Yeah, but what's YOUR dream?" Amy asked.


     When the Greatful Dead wrote "Truckin'", a song about their misfortunes on the road as a metaphor for getting though life culminating in the refrain "what a long strange trip it's been", I think they were on to something.  I have found myself so sidetracked lately with the band business as it's gotten bigger and the new business, that maybe I'm starting to forget about the purpose.  Maybe I am forgetting about my dreams in all of this, because when Amy said that, I had nothing. I've been just running ragged; completely on "what do I have to accomplish next" mode without ever asking why, is it necessary, and am I happy.  With all of the work to get all the songs ready, the work to promote all of the shows we did, the emotional upheaval I've experienced being back in this situation, the details of learning a new job...with the "long strange trip it's been"...I may have lost me a little bit along the way.

     It's time to dial back and return to the writer I am in the core center of my being to figure all of this out. I know the purpose, but what's the dream, and do those things compliment each other and with the rush that is life, how do I hold on to them?

    As I sip, my coffee, and stare out my office window at a cold and dreary winter day, I'm listening to "These Dreams" by Heart... 

"These dreams that sleep when it's cold outside
Every moment I'm awake the further I'm away
There's something out there I can't resist"

     ...welcome back... and here we go again...

Happy Fishing


PS - If you'd like to hear me expound upon the story of  "Fight", and hear the first time it was played on the radio, you can do so right here!  Many thanks to Loris Lowe and KLBJ FM 93.7 in Austin, TX for having me in the studio! Loris is an amazing person and supports the local music scene in Austin with her show Local Licks Live.