How Was Your Day … Paris Musician?
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because sometimes it’s OK to talk to strangers.
By Julia Scott
In this occasional series, OZY takes to streets and neighborhoods across the globe to ask a simple question: “How was your day?”
Today was the kind of day you want to be over as soon as you wake up. I woke up from a bad dream, remembering a big argument I had with a good friend of mine last night. I came to him seeking advice on the management aspect of my band, David & Lucie. And we came to a disagreement. Friendships can have those moments in them, up and down.
And this was also the first day back with [my son] Manny. He’s 8. Since Valerie [Manny’s mom] and I are divorced, we have shared custody, so I have Manny for a week and then she has Manny for a week. Those first days when I get Manny back are a wake-up call, because all of a sudden I have to be a responsible, mature, loving parent all over again after six days of absolute bliss being able to pretend I’m 20.
I met Lucie and it was like meeting someone from a different galaxy.
Every day I wake up in Paris, I don’t want to be in Paris. I don’t like Paris. I don’t like France. I don’t like cities. I want to be in back in Vermont, where I grew up, partly. Or in South America, where I was born and spent many years studying birds and taking students on summer trips to investigate the workings of tropical ecology. I’m a science geek and a naturalist and a nerd.
I have some mates around the corner who run a recording studio, and I’ve been a dilettante armchair songwriter practically since I owned my first guitar, when I was 13 or 14. I’ve written songs about the jungle. I’ve written songs about heartbreak — that’s a classic. Loss. Planetary ecocide. But I always try to put a dark sense of humor in it.
I met Lucie and it was like meeting someone from a different galaxy. I hang out with a bunch of grungy, hippie punks. She plays classical violin and she’s a tap dancer. She’d never had a glass of Jack Daniel’s. Turned out she’d never heard of David Bowie, she’d never heard of the Rolling Stones. Just jazz and classical music, which I didn’t know anything about.
Being a mismatch has become more than a novelty or a creative hybrid. For me it has become a de facto political act. Sometimes I’ll be in the middle of a dark song — this will still surprise me — and I’ll catch Lucie out of the corner of my eye and she’s performing with a smile. It’s like she’s a part of the Andrews Sisters. How ironic. How punk.
I made the decision to stop all my professional activities outside of music, and give music all I have, all my time and energy and creativity. So basically I wake up and I write songs and I take guitar lessons online and I learn music theory. I manage the band and I prepare for gigs, and that’s all it is.
I have this nature diary. Paris is very flat and dull, except in spring, when the birds fly back from Africa. That’s when you see the swallows and nightingales. So I take Manny to school and I go for these long walks, and I write as I walk.
There was one year, probably the happiest, most blissful year of my life. For the first time I was able to go home and live for a year in Vermont. Those first six months of my life with Valerie, putting in a garden, watching spring happen, watching Manny grow as the forest came back to life. We spent that July and August in Alaska. We rented a van and we drove Manny, who was only 7 months old at the time, all the way to the Arctic Ocean in the Northwest Territories. We took a plane to Tuktoyaktuk and put his tiny little feet in the water and we called that his baptism.
— As told to Julia Scott
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