Thursday, January 06, 2005

John Roderick, Graig Markel, etc.

Open Letter to Singer-Songwriters
Neumo's, Seattle, WA

Hello singer-songwriter, it's me - your audience. Can we talk about a few things?

First, while you may know half the people in the room, I don't recognize you or your music, and neither does my friend. So it's a little frustrating that YOU NEVER SAY YOUR OWN NAME while you're playing. You refer to and thank the other guys on the bill tonight - John, Graig, Luke - but then I have to actually walk over to the poster at the back of the room to figure out what your name is. Please, singer-songwriter, tell me your name during your set.

Tonight I'm standing way back here to give you space and because I want you to be different and more important than me. However, if you create a rapport with me and ask me to move closer because you like the intimacy (like John is doing right now), I promise you that I will move closer. I like receiving instructions from you, singer-songwriter, as long as they don't make me feel dumb, or if they do that we're all being dumb together.

Now, about the yawning and the eye-drifting: I've had a long day. Even though many of your songs speak to my heart, there are times that I'm just thinking about other stuff. If I had a notepad and a pen in front of me I would be making lists. Also, tonight I'm distracted by the girl in front of me who has her hand completely between her boyfriend's legs as if there is no one standing THREE FEET behind her. I assume that you don't have to get up early like I do, so I give myself permission to be tired. For all I know, you have a day job too. But tonight, you are only a musician to me. Sorry - these are the unfair rules of engagement.

Listen, I know it's a Wednesday and a lot of your friends are here, but could you maybe brush your hair? When you are on a bill with other guys who look really good and who have carefully selected which shirt and jacket to wear, you look like a bit of a shlump. I don't think that's a "look" anymore. I care about you, and I want you to show me that you care about me.

I really like it when you invite other musicians to play with you on songs that you normally do solo - especially that cello player. She's great. However, I am skeptical and sometimes a bit disappointed when you play songs solo that you normally do with your band, mainly because you can't sing all the vocal parts at the same time. You write other songs, right? Why not play those?

The chatter in the room must be frustrating, so I understand why you crank the volume to your guitar and ask the sound guy to turn up your vocals. This is an effective conversation-stopper, but let me tell you, singer-songwriter, I now feel assaulted by sound. And since I expected an overall reasonable volume level tonight, I didn't bring my earplugs. Easy with that, okay?

I hope you understand where I'm coming from, singer-songwriter. I really do love you, and I want you to be successful. Sorry there aren't more people here tonight - I'll tell all my friends about your next show. If I can remember your name.

Love, your audience.


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