Thursday, January 26, 2006

All the money in the world

Come dance with me, my darling
To the edge of the world

Be sure to bring with you your hunger

And all your pretty spells

Today I was listening to a track from my special pre-official-release copy of Chad Parks' 'Pax Americana', and it occurred to me to wonder if Chad had got himself a decent website yet. I am thrilled to report that he has. Please run right over and start downloading.

We'll dance until the music ends
Turn and turn and turn a hell
Into heaven
I discovered Chad by accident, when Jake and I dropped into Arlene's Grocery one quiet Sunday evening about three years ago. The first band was acceptable. Chad's band, which at that time was called something outlandish like the Neo-Filipino Picnic Orchestra, had me doing that Thing I do, where I lose any vestige of self-consciousness I might once have had, and start whirling around the room like an avant-garde dervish, whether anyone else is dancing or not. The music hit me in my solar plexus, lifted me six inches off the ground and held me there. It was better than heroin. Jake forbore to comment.
Tell me your secrets
Quietly in my ear
All that you desire and all that you fear
I'll shout it from the rooftops for everyone to hear
You finally will feel free and your mind will be clear
After the show I approached the stage, grabbed Chad firmly by the ear and requested him to put me on his mailing list. He seemed surprised; I doubt he HAD a mailing list. He didn't have any CDs yet, either, which meant that I was dependent upon live performances for my fix. I started appearing at every one of his gigs, which surprised both of us.
You know that I love you
You know that much is true
Is there anything I can buy you
To make sure you really love me too?
In other places I've lived, bands are accustomed to groupies; you can usually count on seeing the same twelve or twenty faces at every venue. But in Manhattan, it seems that people are too busy and disengaged to become sincere fans. I wondered if my passion for Chad's music appeared immoderate.
I'll give you all the money in the world
All the money in the world
All the money in the world
To burn...

Chad called this his "sugar daddy song." Upon first listening to the words, I thought, with sophisticated cynicism, "how pathetic. Of course he's being ironic."

Then on one occasion I found myself sitting in the front row at the Sidewalk with tears unexpectedly streaming down my face. I was mortified. Not only is the fan obsessive, she is becoming emotional over a bit of sardonic irony.

The truth is, I was thinking of one of my ex-lovers, over whom I made somewhat a fool of myself. The gentleman in question was a musician, a classical violist. He arrived at this position of relative distinction through sheer force of determination, after an orphaned childhood on the streets of Mexico City. He had no musical talent, only passion, discipline, and the sense not to saddle himself with the economic responsibilities of parenthood. He was charming, wounded and pathologically unfaithful. I loved and respected him inordinately.

But the sad truth of the situation was that we were not socioeconomic equals. I had the resources and the freedom to move about the planet at will; he was tethered to his country, his job and his fears of irremediable destitution. Part of his compulsive philandering, I was sure, was due to a need to assert the balance of power in an impossible situation. He could not afford to become attached.

Of course I am romanticizing--of course the gentleman was merely another rat-fink womanizer, and I was a co-dependent fool. But in the moment of listening to Chad's song I had an inkling of what it must be like--do not laugh--what it must be like to be a man. Never to be entirely sure if a woman loves you for yourself, or whether her attachment stems partly from her instinct for survival.

I could sense, in myself, the willingness to throw away any amount of economic security in order to redress the balance of power.
You know that I love you
You know that much is true
Is there anything I can buy you
To make sure you really love me true
I'll give you all the money in the world...

When Chad finally got around to cutting an album, he came by my gallery with an advance copy. My then-boyfriend said that my face lit up like a Christmas tree. "You'd like to have that guy over a car hood," he declared, inelegantly. He was much mistaken; I had the jones merely for his music. Chad himself, although a most attractive man, would have been redundant. Talented musicians rarely have much conversation. My violist's charm, I fear, was in inverse proportion to his musical gifts. I suppose that life balances out in the long run.

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