Like most people, I've had my challenges in all aspects of life. I've had my ebbs and flows, my ups and downs. But what a ride it's been!
Several months back, I was in my office, stressing out about whatever the day's metaphoric fire was. I was scanning Facebook and seeing some of the posts of the people I grew up and went to high school with, most of whom I never actually communicated with back then, or more accurately who never chose to communicate with me. (Hell, this previous blog explains a lot of that.) I got up, looked outside my office window and realized, wow. I have an office. On Sunset Blvd. In Hollywood, California. Working as a "studio exec" for an independent movie company. No matter what each day brings, I've freakin' made it. And it's all led me to the person I am today.
All that said, the impossible or improbable is always possible. All ya gotta do is try.
My birthday is August 15th. It's officially here and I'm one notch further in my 40's. As always, I try to think up of some sort of fun group activity I can share with my closest friends that would be intimate, unique, and special. Last year, the mighty Christian James Hand was kind enough to do one of his infamous "The Session On Air" song breakdowns. (We ended up doing one by Soundgarden and Nirvana, which you can read about right here.) Before that, it'd been screenings of some of my favorite movies. Rodney Dangerfield's BACK TO SCHOOL for my 40th was one for the books. But ...how the hell do you top all that?
Well, I had interviewed Jonah Matranga for my "mix tape" documentary last year, and we've been in touch on and off for the last 20 some odd years. And both him and his music have been such a huge part of my life, a lot of it explained here. Needless to say, with all that life experience between the two of us, I'm comfortable saying he's more than just one of my all time favorite musicians and influences. He's a friend.
So, would it be odd if I asked my favorite musician to do a private acoustic performance of his tunes for my birthday? Well, you never know until you ask. And much to my surprise. He agreed!
We had Christian on an episode of Shock Waves a few months back where he walked us through the musical masterpiece that is Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells," more popularly known as the theme to THE EXORCIST, and at the tail end of the episode, he said he would gladly do something for my birthday again this year. You'd better believe I held him to his word!
And so on Saturday, August 4th, I had a very small group of people over to my apartment in the Valley, a venue I was quite nervous to host a party at, because for one, it feels small once you get more than 10 people in here, and also it gets ridiculously hot. But somehow, magically, it all worked out perfectly. We just moved a table out of my main living room and made that the central spot for the evening's entertainment.
First up, I surprised the gang by debuting 30 minutes of my documentary project. After 3 years of meticulously putting this thing together, it was a great thrill to finally test out some of this material for a general audience, and the response was beyond my expectations. It set the positive tone for the whole evening.
Then, Jonah pulled up a stool and kicked off the night with a beautiful rendition of his song "Tides," which at one point slowly morphed into "Release" by Pearl Jam and then back to "Tides." At this point, I'll be candid... I was pretty tipsy and still in disbelief that this was really happening.
I personally didn't take any photos or video, because I wanted to live in the moment and really appreciate it, and hope everyone in the room was feeling what I was feeling, which I confirmed after the party that they were. But thankfully, Spooky Dan Walker (bless him) got the following snippets.
For me, there is at least one key lyric in each of Jonah's songs that resonates and feels totally relevant to me right now, at this point in time, at this age.
In "Lukewarm," its screaming out, "I never want to say my best days are behind me." Or the bridge in "Feel Alright," a song about just wanting all your friends to be OK, where he sings, "we are all so brave. We are all so scared. We are all afraid. We're all not falling. All not dead."
I can go on and on, but instead, I'd rather share with you my playlist that prepped me for this evening. These are some of my favorite Jonah songs from all his bands, spanning his entire musical career. And yes, I've tested this mix and think it's pretty rockin'!
Jonah Matranga mix:
1. Lukewarm by New End Original from "Thriller"
2. Bury White by Far from "Water & Solutions"
3. Feel Alright by Gratitude from "Gratitude"
4. This Is The Part by Gratitude from "Gratitude"
5. I Like It by Far from "Water & Solutions"
6. Mother Mary by Far from "Water & Solutions"
7. Hostage by New End Original from "Thriller"
8. Tides by Jonah Matranga from "The Three Sketchys"
9. Every Mistake by Jonah Matranga from "And"
10. Give Me A Reason by Far from "At Night We Live"
11. I Really Love Yr Company by Jonah's onelinedrawing from "Me And You Are Two"
12. In The Aisle, Yelling by Far from "Tin Cans With Strings To You"
13. Water & Solutions by Far from "Water & Solutions"
14. The System by Far from "Water & Solutions"
15. Bittersweet by I Is Another from "I Is Another"
16. Roosevelt Champion III by Camorra from "Mourning, Resistance, Celebration"
17. Shake by I Is Another from "I Is Another"
18. Parting Friends by Camorra from "Mourning, Resistance, Celebration"
19. Really Here by Far from "Water & Solutions"
20. Be Quiet & Drive by Jonah Matranga from "Voices & Dedications"
And for those that want a You Tube playlist, here it is in that form.
After that, we took a few minutes to eat some ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins, my personal favorite. (Awkward high fives and hugs and all...)
And now, here we are, a few hours away from my actual birthday, and I'm just reflecting back on how lucky I am to have celebrated in this way. With love and music.
Regarding both of those incredible artists who were so kind with their time and talents, please support and check out Jonah's music on his BandCamp page. He's the only musician I know that keeps it personal, and one on one, which in this day and age truly means a lot.
And while we're at it, you can hear a bunch of Christian's breakdown's via this Soundcloud account. In particular, his "Under Pressure" one here.
And by the way, this is my favorite photo of the evening of the two of them in conversation.
I know I'm known as the horror guy, but music is where my heart is.
And music is the best way for me to share my heart.
Love you all
Here's to 42...!