BRADFORD—I am doing a show in a small Pennsylvania town in an old theater. We are recording our 100th podcast. I have never been this far north in my life. It was so cold when we flew into New York that I saw Lady Liberty place her torch inside her dress.
There is a band playing. And I am playing music, too. And this is ironic because—not that you care about this—I was once rejected from a major university where I once hoped to study music.
It’s sort of a long story, but I feel like telling it.
It all starts with a guitar. A cheap guitar. Much like the kind I am playing tonight. I began playing when I was a child. I was god-awful. But I practiced a lot.
I tried to teach myself, though I had no idea what I was doing. I tried strumming, plucking, picking, patting, flicking, smacking, etc. Anything to get a sound out of the thing. Finally, my uncle was kind enough to put strings
on the guitar. That made all the difference in the world.
So music was important to me. I started playing piano at age nine. And I loved all music. I enjoyed the country music that my grandfather’s generation two-stepped to. Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb, and Lefty Frizzell.
I like other music, too. Namely, old-time jazz. When I was a young man, I was obsessed with jazz. I taught myself to play “Laura” on the piano, and “Satin Doll,” and “Georgia On My Mind.” These songs were important to me.
I also liked classical music to some degree. I’ll never forget when I was in community college. I was a grown man who felt out of place being surrounded by so many teenagers. I felt sort of stupid, actually.
I was on my way to an ethics class when I heard singing from a nearby classroom. I…