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Simple See You Later
Conversing with myself.
Our minds often seem wired to expect our lives to play out in a strictly linear fashion. "I need this so I can do this and then I'll get that." This narrative has been smashed to pieces over and over throughout my life but I continue to cling to it, serving no purpose but to make my therapist a very wealthy man. When my latest album "Crow Got Drunk" came out a year ago, I certainly didn't expect its sales to buy me a private jet, but I was full of pride for what I had created and it was my sincere hope that it'd reach a larger audience than my previous work.
In a weird way, the record almost felt like a debut album, and not just because it was the first album where I used my new moniker "Nick Cory Young" instead of Nick Young (no relation). I am of course older and maybe a little wiser than I was for my first 3 albums and this was also my first record since becoming a parent. It all felt very new and exciting to me, both during the recording process and for its release last August...not unlike the feeling when my first album (released with my old band Burning Daylight) came out in 2007. And then...well, I wouldn't say "nothing" and I wouldn't say "meh" but the ever present internal monologue of an artist's mind asking "what's next?” set in rather quickly.
I got some very nice reviews from media outlets, some extremely kind and heartfelt praise from respected peers, friends and family and I think I might've even impressed my kids for a few minutes before they went back to playing Roblox. The record was unceremoniously tossed into the deep, dark abyss of the streaming world, where it gained more streams than all of my previous releases combined (VERY humble brag), earning me tens of dollars in the process. Nonetheless, as recently as June, I'd sort of moved on. Then, out of the blue, some serendipity arrived on my doorstep when I was asked to open some shows for a huge musical hero of mine (Rhett Miller of Old 97s). I was thrilled of course but I soon discovered that I had to basically relearn the songs from my record in order to perform them live.
For probably the first time in my career, I actually set up my PA equipment in my basement and played the 10 or so songs I might play in my opening set over and over for two weeks straight until they were absolutely locked into my mind. Come to find out, this is (apparently) universally recognized as “practicing” or “rehearsing”. I made a Spotify playlist of those ten songs and listened to them over and over, much to the chagrin of my wife and kids. What surprised me most was that the songs still sounded very fresh to me, as if I’d recorded them only weeks before. I’d only performed them live a few times and a few of them had never once been performed in concert. The shows took place at the end of July and I can honestly say that they were some of the most fun, authentic and meaningful performances of my career. I felt vulnerable in the best possible way, conversing with the audience instead of simply talking and singing to them. I was completely at ease with the fact that no matter the crowd members’ personal reactions, this is me, these songs are me, my sense of humor is me and hey, I (kind of) like me.
Last week, I got to open for another musical hero of mine (Robbie Fulks) in Pittsburgh and I had a really lousy trip getting there (2 hrs worth of construction delays!!) and I just wasn’t feeling all that great, physically or emotionally. But as soon as I parked, walked in the door and plugged in my guitar for sound check, I found myself returning to the mental space I very much needed to be in. It was like taking a musical Xanax. Well, maybe like taking a .5mg musical Xanax. Not as good as a full 1.0mg REAL Xanax but I mean, come on. But I digress (a lot). The show felt just like the 3 shows at the end of July; very real, very loose and well, very fun. I like people. I like meeting new people. I like hearing their stories and I hope they like hearing mine, especially the ones I sing. My entire goal as an artist is to make people feel what I feel when I listen to music that moves me. That’s it. Everything else is gravy. Except for the money. I also like making money. Money is good.
Anyway, here’s the first song I wrote for the album and it’s sung from my perspective but (twist) I’m dead (in the song). It purposely begins with somewhat banal platitudes: “Chase the night and drift into the sea. Sing the songs that don’t come easily.” I tell you this primarily to prove that I know the definitions of the words “banal” and “platitudes”. It’s also the kind of thing a hypothetical (not that clever) dead guy might tell the living to do with their lives if he were able, perhaps through the TV like in that movie “Poltergeist” or maybe through a (banal and platitude-filled) email from beyond the grave. But I digress (again). The rest of the song is me basically telling my friends & loved ones what I wished I’d done better in my life and then asking how the world has reacted to my untimely death because I’m pretty much a narcissist I guess, even when I’m dead. There was one lyric where I asked who won the Mega Millions that week but it got cut for time/relevance. The song is called "Simple See You Later" and the video was shot by my good friend Greg Gefell who you should hire to film stuff if you know what’s good for you. Anyway, if you got this far, thank you very, very much for reading/listening and I’ll see you on down the road.
Listen to “Crow Got Drunk: https://nickcoryyoung.hearnow.com/crow-got-drunk