I went through a tough time twenty years ago following a break up and I was depressed and miserable and alone and isolated, 45 minutes past Hamilton, in the middle of nowhere. I didn’t have close friends. That was intentional. I liked not needing anyone. Only when I was needy and hurting, did I realize this made everything worse and it was foolish not nurturing close friendships. Mendelson Joe used to write a lot of letters to the media and all his friends. I was lucky to be in orbit of those practically daily compulsive obsessive dispatches. I think he was the internet first. I never kept up to his speed but I must have updated him because he tuned into my situation and called one night while I was busy being inconsolable.
After catching up, he offered something I found very odd, he said I should be writing about this. Writing about it?! That seemed pointless, even offensive. Why would anyone write about the end of the world? I told him so. He insisted I should consider that one of the great advantages of being an artist, was making art out of these things, “that’s what we do, Bob. Airplane mechanics can’t do this, surgeons can’t do this – but this is what we do.” And then I couldn’t wait to get him off the phone, the truth hit me. I started twenty new songs. The eventual record was titled Theme and Variations. An exorcism that left me feeling much better. Sometimes, I explain it to the students. Even though this ambition, to have a career in music, is like a million people trying to fit through a small opening where only a few ever will, but it also doesn’t matter because you have a superpower. It has nothing to do with whether or not you make money from being musical. The point is, this thing we do can actually can save you and/ or others.