I woke up this morning with the sense of an ebbing anthology of dreams like an emotional tornado that reverse-spins and zaps itself out of your head leaving you sort of hung-over and used. You try to catch them by the tail--- some of them are things you miss--- people you will never see again--- yourself as a young carefree girl, in your prime--- babies you will never have…and song--- there is often a soundtrack-- -sometimes symphonic and full and dramatic-- sometimes just lyrics--- things you are writing and they evaporate as you wake… you lose them… you, the composer--- the dream conductor… and you can’t find them…. They crash and burn into morning ash.
Today this annoying sort of Bobby McFerrin melody cycling--- ‘Hap-py as a clam…’..I lost the other lyrics but surely they were equally annoying and baffling… after all, what does a clam have to make them feel good? It is like a bad cliche'd 70’s commercial theme song…and I wrote this thing-- or my subconscious did--- I keep searching for a meaning--- since it won't erase itself or dissolve like the others did--maybe an anagram… an irony… a reference to an ex-boyfriend or Louis Carroll… or an old ghost haunting me with irony?
Irony—tonight I will want to play something Hooker or Wolf like Smokestack Lightnin’ and then will remember half the audience hears this as a viagra commercial. Why must they ruin these things? Does anyone put Michelangelo on a box of condoms? Actually they might have. Why can’t they use Beyonce? She is apparently a sexual catalyst--- although for me she is the musical version of the kind of ‘hard-bang’ that is the very antithesis of sex. Knock yourself out, Jay-Z, with your endorsements and commercials and your Baby Blue. Isn’t your empire huge enough? Does your wife now have to put her hip jerks on not just HM but a can of coke? A symbol of ‘the people’…And HM…affordable fashion-- fashion McDonald’s servers can buy, can wear to The Club, although how minimum-wage earners afford a night out is beyond me. I guess you need the extra income, Jay and B, for your 529. How about 529 million? And while we’re there, about the 529 million poor kids who are starving while they listen to your latest boring album? Sorry. The clam song is getting louder….
I’m not an old f--- . I am totally enchanted by Rihanna—in all her flawed exquisite nudity and attitude. I love her voice (I’ve yet to recall Beyonce’s?), her presence, her fearless performance. I feel her—her Chris Brown distress, her wounded brave sexuality. But I admit I am sick to death of sexual enhancement products mercilessly advertised on late-night TV….I mean, with all the uncensored videos, frank language and Victoria’s Secret-worthy popstars--- is America losing its mojo?
My own son last night called me from a late-night food stop. Jesus, he said--- there was this incredible girl next to me, totally flirting-- -and I couldn’t think of a thing to say… and there she goes, now. Shit. My own ex-bad-boy, teenage heartbreaker… I mean…with all the ultra-sexually charged music, all the popping and humping and the marijuana and club culture—unable to flirt? Back in my time…who thought of having something clever to say… or anything? There was the vibe-- -and then there was—well.. there was before, during and after…
How about this: in my neighborhood--- where I often scan the street—the actual street--- for clues to finding the underlying poetry of my strange and diverse local culture…looking for a graffiti message, a pointing glove, deflated and useless Get Well balloons—trampled bouquets, a shining dime…something… not a single day goes by when I don’t see—lying in the road, along with the flattened rodents and unfortunate pigeons….a discarded condom or a used tampon. What is the meaning of this? Who are these people? Strangers who meet in a taxi and throw the evidence out the window? My neighbors? I mean, are they afraid the police will search the trash cans like on Law and Order?
Okay…the clam song is getting louder. I’ll keep my lips sealed tonight when the Times Square police search my guitar case because Jay Z has decided to occupy a midtown rooftop for yet another of his public extravaganzas which will gnarl traffic and feed his blue ego with thousands of greedy tons of caviar and Cristal while just a few blocks away I’ll be trying to drown out my Clam song with some actual blue blues for the 2-digit paycheck for which we real musicians play out our hearts.
And I’ve just learned from Urban Dictionary that the unshortened expression is ‘happy as a clam at high tide’ because clams can only be harvested at low tide… so maybe the message is that it is enough for me to make it home unscathed, uncaptured, unraped, unmutilated, and undead on my hopefully running subway and crosstown bus, with my cold summer dinner in a foil container, my old guitar, and my heart full of lyrics and dreams.