This newsletter contains nothing about the orange sky outside because there is absolutely nothing I can do about that. (Except put on side two of David Bowie’s Low and imagine that I’m in some fucked-up immersive experience.)
I’ve been trying to cope by finding joy in stupid little things. Last month, I did a stupid thing on Instagram where I posted a “perfect record” every day for the month of August. (Lots of folks joined in and you’ll find lots of good stuff under the #perfect31 hashtag.) I wrote a little story about each record, except the stories weren’t really about the records. It was just a trick to get myself to write again. Then I turned it into a zine.
Anyway… if you want a zine I’m happy to send you one. It’s free. (There’s a QR code on the inside cover that leads to a BLM donation page. If you’re able to please donate some coin there.)
All you have to do to get a zine is gimme your address.
Here’s a sample story that had to be edited down for the zine. So… bonus:
Here’s a brief recap of Keith Jarrett’s day on January 24, 1975: He drives six hours from Zurich, Switzerland, where he played a few days earlier, to Köln, Germany. He is suffering from jet lag and a bad back, for which he has to wear an uncomfortable back brace. He arrives in Köln during a pouring rainstorm.
Meanwhile, the Köln Opera House, where he is scheduled to not only perform, but have that performance recorded for this very album, has fucked up. They get the wrong grand piano. Not just the wrong grand piano, but a busted grand piano. It takes several hours of tuning and adjustments just to make the damn thing playable. Not performance-ready. Playable. It’s tinny and thin in the upper registers and weak in the bass register. Oh, and the pedals don’t work. They cannot get a new piano to the Opera House because of the storm.
This is the piano Keith Jarrett sits down to after an exhausting six hour drive. Through a storm. While wearing a back brace. He’s furious. His manager attempts to settle him down by taking him to dinner, but because of a fuck-up at the restaurant, they only get to eat a few mouthfuls before they have to run out for the concert.
Keith Jarrett, who is having a very bad day, runs back to the Opera House, sits down at the piano, exhausted, hungry, in pain, wearing a back brace, and improvises a performance on a very busted piano that ends up becoming the best-selling album in jazz history.
You go to work with the tools you have. There's no new piano on the way. You make it work. The show doesn't start because everything is perfect and you're ready to go. The show starts because the start time is printed on the ticket. So take a look around at what you have, because that is what you have.
Show time is November 3. We might not have gotten the piano we wanted, but we will play it. Because in the end a piano is only limited who's willing to play it, and how. And we’ve had a string of very, very bad days, and how.
We’re all doing the best we can. Be kind to one another, and to yourself.