That's the funny thing. That's a lot like the whole rock 'n' roll circus. I watched it happen to one of my favorite bands.
Who's that?
Phish. They did this incredible thing for so long and it got to the point of being so big‚ with so much admiration‚ excess‚ money and… that life. And they were like‚ "How messy and sloppy can we make this before the whole fucking thing falls apart?"
Just curious‚ just gotta know.
Yeah. It's like‚ "We're gonna go out and play music that goes this far. I'm sure we can take everything else further and further." There's always that joke between musicians about how popular they got. And I remember talking to this guy who said‚ "Well‚ we never got popular enough to become junkies. We always had to drive ourselves to the next show."
There's a bit of truth to that.
Like‚ if we didn't have to drive ourselves‚ I'm sure we'd become junkies‚ we'd push it that far. And then there's that cycle where it becomes so messy.
I think I might have that personality a little bit. By some weird twist of fate if I'd become renowned at a young age‚ I'd probably be dead now. [Laughter]
Like‚ thank God that didn't work out.
There's a certain truth to that.
One more thing I was going to ask you about. You were talking about before through repetition you surprise yourself. I talk to a lot of jazz musicians. I've always gotten weird answers from people about where they go when it's really happening. When you're up on stage in the thick of it and all things are working and you're surprising yourself‚ what kinds of things go through your head? Are there any visual things?
That's a great question. For me‚ the first image that came to my mind was New York City rush hour traffic. Most times when I'm playing‚ I start with that gridlock of traffic because all this information is coming from several different directions‚ all into one pipeline. At first when I start a tour‚ all that information's coming in and everything's sort of slowing down a bit. But then with the repetition‚ all that traffic starts moving faster and faster. Then when it really clicks‚ all that traffic from all those different directions is just flying. And it seems impossible that that much information‚ that much traffic could be moving that swiftly without gridlock‚ but there's something that happens where all that rush hour traffic is moving at 60 mph. That was the first image that came to mind because the information coming in is from so many sources. It's musical‚ it's stories‚ it's thinking of people you've loved that are playing‚ it's thinking about the crowd and the room you're in. All this information that can easily get clogged up and traffic can come to a standstill with all the information competing to come through one tunnel‚ which is the PA system. But through repetition‚ that clarity‚ that nice moment where it all comes together‚ it's amazing how fast the information is processed. I don't really know how to describe it. I wouldn't describe it in terms of colors or anything. It's a tough thing to describe. The experience of that grace is always a tough thing to talk about.
That's cool‚ man. Thanks for sharing that.
I didn't do a very good job. [Laughs]
No‚ I'm with you. I tend to try to ask everyone I talk to something about that.
That really is the ultimate goal‚ with anybody you talk to‚ in any aspect or realm of life. That experience of grace is what we all want whether it's our relationships or in our work or in our play. That moment where the heavens and the earth align‚ and when the target becomes the broad side of a barn and not a Dixie cup a hundred yards away. On some level or another‚ that's what we always want. I can relate to it in terms of a pool table where you can't miss the shot‚ in terms of talking to the opposite sex and suddenly you're a silver-tongued devil‚ and you can never take full credit for it because there's always some way the world steps up to meet you at that point. And you like to think you're a silver-tongued devil‚ but if she didn't think the jokes were funny it wouldn't matter.
[Laughs] Yeah‚ there's always that other element.
It's that mysterious prize. I'm doing a show tonight‚ and I can only say a prayer that I'll feel that feeling. I think probably the most important thing about that experience of grace is that it very rarely happens in a vacuum and that idea of the world rising up to meet you there is really important. And probably the best shows I've ever done have had a certain element of the room or the audience I was playing to wanting to go there themselves. And knowing who I am and what I'm all about‚ I've felt a few times that I've been really graceful without any help‚ but those memories aren't as strong as times where the audience has met me halfway. It was the sum of the two parts that landed us higher than we expected to go.
That's interesting. I think that was my experience. Because people are out there looking for it.
I definitely do have a lot of experiences with grace. The vacuum side of that would be in the act of writing‚ and those moments of writing when it's coming and you're catching it and it feels so good and it's so right and you're surprising yourself. I think those moments of grace are very personal and very fulfilling‚ and I'm always looking for that too. That's sort of a way I experience grace without the world necessarily.
Yeah‚ that's a good point‚ when you're at home‚ just cooking some stuff up and surprising yourself.
That must be a fun question for you to ask people. "How do I describe it?" [Laughter]