Yeah‚ it's an interesting time to see how all this shit's gonna settle. [Laughter]
I'm really lucky that I'm not at a crossroads in my life‚ or that I'm not just starting out. If I was young and looking at it and deciding what I should do‚ I don't know what I would decide. But seeing that I don't have a choice in the matter‚ it makes things a little easier. [Laughter] I am what I am. I'm not really sure how I escaped it‚ but a lot of friends my age are either jaded or left the scene a while ago. It's pretty amazing how many I've seen come and go. I heard Bill Maher talking the other night‚ and he was lamenting his friends that had given up comedy‚ and he was saying‚ "I really wish they'd stuck with it because it wasn't until after 30 years that I started to feel like it was good." And I was reading Bukowski the other night‚ and he said something similar about the decades it took him to come into his own. So on that side of things it's a pretty exciting time in my life because I feel‚ in a lot of ways‚ that I'm one of those kinds of artists. There're so many young geniuses--there's that kind of artist‚ the Rimbaud or the Bob Dylan‚ that's cranking out genius shit at 21-years-old. And then there are other artists who really have to work it for a long time before they get really comfortable with their voice‚ whether it's literal or metaphorical. And I have a relationship with that feeling and that process that I think is really healthy.
But there's this fence‚ after all this time‚ there's this feeling I have of becoming that is still really palpable to me and something that feels really natural and right with me as an artist. I feel like I'm still becoming. I don't feel that I've risen to my full potential and have been overlooked by the world. So I don't get really jaded.
Yeah‚ that makes a lot of sense.
Now‚ if I get to the point where I feel like I've become‚ then the world better look out and take me seriously‚ or I'm gonna get pissed. [Laughter] And nobody wants that.
I've seen a lot of people come and go. I've seen a lot of people go from being really gung-ho to salty and jaded over the course of a couple years. It's an unfortunate thing. You said before that you're out there and you're surprising yourself. That's a beautiful thing to hear.
Without that‚ I don't even know. I'm a little jealous of those kinds of people who have come and gone‚ in a way‚ because I didn't know that was an option. [Laughter] I've never thought in those terms. Even since I was young there were a lot of tragic heroes in my world and in my mind‚ of people that were never that recognized for their passion‚ for what they endured‚ like Van Gogh. There's always that Plan B. If the world doesn't recognize me‚ I can always be Van Gogh‚ and try to make something so great that someday it'll find its place.
Yeah. Thirty years from now it'll all make sense to everyone.
Yeah‚ you just never know. But there are enough examples all throughout history of artists who have had an enduring legacy even though they weren't recognized in their time. I'm not saying I'm one of those. There's so many ways of seeing it in strange places‚ to find comfort when it feels like you're swimming upstream.
Yeah. Well‚ you talked before about being too honest with us‚ specifically talking about Surprise Me Mr. Davis‚ where you can't deny your art or compromise it enough to do whatever bullshit you might need to do to get ahead. You kind of have to have it out there‚ naked--this is what it is.
Yeah‚ I wish I had a bigger list of bullshit things I could do. I really don't. I guess it's part of the nature of being me‚ that the most powerful thing I can do is to be as truly and purely myself as I can be‚ as opposed to finding a more comfortable shtick that's outside of myself that would be more accessible or marketable. I think the most accessible‚ marketable thing I could do is be a fully realized version of myself.
I could be wrong. I haven't had a lot of people give very convincing arguments that there's something else I could be doing. Every now and again my dad thinks I should do more covers. [Laughs] Which would be an example of the kind of thing that's outside myself. I ultimately think he's wrong. It wouldn't make my career any easier. It wouldn't be as strong as me just being comfortable and giddy about my own art‚ my own songs. There definitely is that tendency to think about what everybody would love.
It's kind of funny‚ but like I was saying at the start of this conversation‚ to fall asleep singing one of your songs. There's something cool about that.
There's something amazing about that. I've been telling this story lately about this one song I wrote when my dad was depressed. I wrote it just to cheer him up. I sat on the back porch‚ had a bunch of people at our house and we all learned it and we went in and sang it to dad. Then I played that song in San Francisco‚ and then someone taped that show‚ and this camp counselor in Oregon got a copy of the bootleg and learned the song and taught it to his kids and I played in Oregon and this 15-year-old kid came up to me after the show and asked if he could have a hug‚ and I said sure. Then he said‚ "That song 'Train of Thought' really helped me when I was down last year." It was something about the path of that song that if I ever start to get a little doubtful about what I'm up to I think of that story and the life of that song‚ outside of me even‚ that puts a smile on my face and the ground beneath my feet. You just never know. You never know how you're gonna affect the world‚ how you're gonna help out.
It makes everything you do make sense‚ in a way. I relate exactly that to a moment with Bob Dylan when I was a kid--when I heard one of his songs and I realized I wasn't alone. I know the song you're talking about-it's really one of those songs about empowerment and knowing that you're not alone.
That's exactly the moment the kid had.
There's someone out there to remind him that he's on the right path. That's great to hear. Sometimes you feel like you're living in your own bubble of whatever you're creating and it puts things in perspective‚ like there is greater meaning. I had someone do something like that to me recently‚ where they commented on something I wrote about a musician‚ where I kind of let it out‚ where I had this experience with this music‚ and they felt the same exact way and it was very personal. I was like‚ "Fuck‚ if I gotta talk about music I'm gonna talk about it like a human." When someone relates to that‚ when you get one person who says‚ "I feel the same exact way…"
You're coming from the heart.
Yeah. It's a beautiful thing.
You put yourself in a vulnerable position‚ but there's nothing more relieving to the rest of us than to see someone put themselves in a vulnerable position.
Exactly. I think I put it out there and I questioned it. I was like‚ "Maybe I shouldn't have said all that. Maybe that shouldn't be open to the public. Maybe that shouldn't be free online for everyone to see." [Laughs] I really put all kinds of darkness and a lot of personal things and feelings out there. But it was nice to have it come back‚ and it came back twice as hard.