04 September 2009

Homemade Rock Star

The first time we met was at a mutual friend's wedding in November of 2001. I'd been dancing for a good while and stepped out for some cool early evening air. I leaned against the stone rail, looking towards but not seeing my old college campus.

"Claire, right?"

I turned and saw one of my table mates, a short fellow with curly hair starting to recede. "Yeah, hey," I said, then ventured, "Tim." He nodded. It's not like anyone else was wearing jeans ("fancy jeans" he assured us) so he wasn't hard to remember.

We traded stories of how we knew the bride and then the conversation segued into other interests. I don't recall what triggered my quiet conspiratorial confession, but I told him, "I kind of secretly want to be a rock star."

"Me too," Tim said enthusiastically. He went on to explain that he was a musician, and I felt like a tool because being a rock star wasn't something I was actually pursuing.

A year and a half later, I was visiting Tim and his girlfriend Chala in San Francisco. Tim wanted to hear one of the songs I'd written. My guitar was still buried in my trunk in part because I wanted to play for him, but my stage fright was severe. His interest was sincere, that coupled with his much greater musical expertise intimidated me.

Chala was also interested, but mellow about it all. She went to the far end of the apartment to work on her own stuff.

"How 'bout if I sit in the hallway?" he suggested.


He left the room and sat cross-legged in the narrow hall. I could see him in my peripheral vision.

"I'm sorry, could you move further down?"

He slid out of sight. I exhaled, trying to calm my nerves. I'm just here by myself. It's fine. No big deal if you screw up. No one's listening. I warmed up a little with some chord progressions and strum patterns I've played since I first started learning guitar. Long familiar territory to re-accustom my fingers to the strings. Then I played and sang a few of my songs.

After a couple, Tim edged back into the room, sitting behind me to listen.

Chala was the one who ultimately urged Tim and I to record one of them in his home studio. With a few minor suggestions from me, he souped up the musical arrangement, adding bass, percussion and synth, performing all the instruments himself while I did the vocals.

One of these days I'll put it up. Or so I've been telling myself for a few years now. Maybe I'll listen to Amanda Palmer talk to her young Scottish cousin about stage fright (which inspired this post) some more first.

A year ago on TTaT: First bad picture to date

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