15 minutes

05 Apr

See this photo?

This is where Rosanne transported me while she was singing Katie‘s song “15 Minutes” at Why Can’t I Be You last Friday night.

Back through time, exactly one year ago. The Larkin. April Fools Day. Songwriters in the round, with Katie, Earl and Karen.

Katie’s singing “15 Minutes” and I’m hypnotized. Haunted. I’m thinking, God, why can’t I write a song like that? Complex, deeply layered, yet completely accessible.

And the lyrics. I hear her sing “15 minutes” and in my mind take it to it’s Warholian conclusion… “fame.” Because she’s next to me, her voice is soaring, and I’m looking out at the room – and what, are there, ten, twelve, fifteen people here tonight? I’m selfishly ecstatic to be experiencing this artist and her song in such an intimate setting, here in this little room in Albany, but part of me – a lot of me – is angry that it’s only me and a dozen others, that this isn’t being shared with many, many, many more.

Oh it’s a fever I can’t deny
Swimming deep in a mystery
Lined with melody and poetry
Consequences undefined
And how a soul learns to bend
Learn to break, to blend into its surroundings
Accept the one thing, for what it really is…
I’ve got 15 minutes to show you what I can be

And suddenly “every passer-by watching my creaky bike fly by” on her way home is the dozen souls in the room tonight taking it all in, and that creaky bike is her guitar, her piano. That creaky bike is the what’s-it-all-for of it. The art. The music. The albums. The MP3s. The press kits. The press releases. The phone calls. The e-mails. The gigs. The studios. The late nights. The early mornings. The planes, trains and automobiles. The big slog of it all.


And I’ve felt this way in this room before. Three years earlier. Opening night at the Larkin. Sharing the bill with Rosanne herself. I finish my set, Rosanne takes the stage, and there I am in the front, taking it all in, feeling this strange mix of joy and anger.

Sent back, and back again, by these two haunting voices, and back again to now. A Friday night in 2005, April Fools Day, and it’s Rosanne’s voice singing Katie’s words, rising and soaring above the room. And there’s joy. And there’s anger.

She finishes Katie’s song, and I’m numb.

And then she announces she’s going to sing “Babylon.”

This, only moments after I’d sung the song that had inspired “Babylon” – the great MotherJudge‘s Revelation 17-inspired “Woman of Mystery.”

And it’s all happening in the room where we filmed the video for the song last year. The video whose narrative is a metaphor of this music thing I do. Playing my heart out to another sleepy, indifferent room.

But Rosanne is singing “Glory, glory, hallelujah” with such joy. Only joy.

And the anger melts away.

Thanks to Rosanne, Katie, MotherJudge, and every one who made Why Can’t I Be You what it was this year.