My Train of Thought Makes All The Stops

I stole the title of this post from Jimmy Dale Gilmore, a singer songwriter from Texas that I was lucky enough to see last night. He had another line from a review written about him once “Jimmy Dale Gilmore never met a digression he didn’t like.” Either one of those would have worked for the title of this, I just think the first one flows a little better.

I tried to construct a story around this, but the only thing I can come up with is those two lines helped explain to me how my brain works. If you are reading this, I’m assuming you’ve read a few more of my written explosions (I think of it as vomiting on the page and seeing what sticks, but that metaphor is gross and I probably shouldn’t use it). When I started all of this I tried to write the stories or observations or whatever as I would tell them verbally. In other words, the stories are told pretty non-linearly. I’ll explain what I mean, but first, digression #1:

I was at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival this weekend (digression #2*: ok Edmonton, wtf is up with the weather? Thursday +33c (91F), Friday so much smoke from the BC fires you could barely see, Saturday it rained, heavily at times, all day. Sunday? Sunday blew chunks (more vomit metaphors) high of +12 (54F in the effing summer!) and pouring rain. In Texas terms it was summer on Thursday and full on winter on Sunday. Not exactly conducive to an outside music festival. It was so bad we missed maybe 2 hours of the 35 hours of music. And since we usually miss 0, 2 hours felt like a disaster! Getting kind of tired of the extremes in weather. Wish there was something we could do about that-and if I did digression #3 here it might last for awhile. So I’ll skip it, back to digression #1). The music, as always, was fantastic and it was great, as always, to see all my friends (who if you are not reading this I’m disowning all of you) though due to the weather, we didn’t spend as much time together as usual. Shivering uncontrollably limits conversation. But that’s not the point. The point is one of the acts I really enjoyed was a guy named John Craigie. During his telling about how he wrote the song “Woodstock Baby”  he mentions that he can’t write a song by just making stuff up “that’s not how it works for me bro” and that he needs to have something happen to him, or see it or hear about it before writing a song about it. (digression #4- the video linked above has the full story before he sings the song. You can find the song by itself if you want, but it works better with this post if you watch the whole thing. I also recommend you go down the youtube rabbit hole of his other songs. He is a great singer songwriter, and I have a spot spot for the story telling types!) And I thought “exactly!” That’s how it is for me.  I can’t just make stuff up. I need to have an event to start with.  From there I can get to work, so to speak, and flesh out the story. I’ve always been a little disappointed in myself that I couldn’t do a story from scratch. Like it made me less of a “writer” (me a writer? pffft, that is funny!). But after hearing Cragie (we are besties now, even though we’ve never met. I don’t think he knows it yet though) I realized that the ability to craft something “entertaining” (funny again) out of a real event is no less of a feat than crafting it out of completely made up stuff (the people who can totally make stuff up will likely disagree, but since they are all pretentious assholes we shall ignore them**).  See, you can learn all sorts of shit about yourself at a Folk Festival. Another reason you should go! So in case the purpose of this paragraph was lost in my “madly off in all directions” style, the purpose was to tell in way too many words that I need an event to ground the story in.  K? End of digression #1.

Oooh, before we get back to the actual topic, lets do digression 5. One of my favorite acts this year was a band called The Bro’s Landreth. Some sick guitar playing. One of the other acts I liked were these 3 kids from New York called City of the Sun, who did these fully engaging instrumentals (yeah, I know how that sounds). Anyway, while watching the Bro’s (again, more besties) I see this kid walk in front of me and I can’t exactly place him, though I know I’ve seen him. About the same time a really big wave of pot smoke washes over me. This isn’t unusual by the way. But in this case it’s so close I glance over to see where it came from and the two guys from City of the Sun are standing next to me watching as well, and one has his arm extended in my direction. I laugh and say “no thanks, that just makes me go to sleep.”  The song ends, the first kid (lead guitar player for City of the Sun) walks back and says to his bandmates “I need to practice guitar!” If you take the time to watch City of the Sun it will make you realize how good Joey Landreth from the Bro’s must be if that kid (who is an awesome guitar player) thinks he needs practive. I then had a nice conversation with the guys about how cool it is to watch the other musicians being fans, and talked about how stupid the weather was. They invited me to their show that afternoon, which I did go to and it was phenomenal to watch how into the music the audience got for a band that never sings. Particularly since I would watch it from the beer tent holding a beer, or several. Ok, now back to original story.

So as I said, my brain doesn’t work in a linear fashion (which really makes the whole train metaphor a little complicated- maybe my brain is more analogous to subway system, like in Paris). It goes everywhere, and I feel compelled to explain where it lands.  I don’t know why that is, but I do. Which probably makes me a big pain in the ass at a party for anyone else who might want to get a word in  (like my wife, who has developed the strategy of just picking up  my stories when I take a breath and then guiding it wherever she wants. Good strategy for her, a bit frustrating for me). And it was great this weekend to hear from other people who have the same issue. For them, it’s manifested itself in the writing of songs, and telling the stories around the songs. For me, it had always manifested itself in dominating conversations and now in being way too verbose in my writing. But I can’t do nuthin about it really, I yam what I yam. It may surprise you to know it, but I actually try to limit the digressions and asides***, as hard to believe as that may be.

So I hope you can stick with me through the ramblings and circuitous pathways though my stories. I won’t ever get there in a straight line, but I’ll get there. And if I don’t, honestly, who would notice?

*digressions 2-4 are actually sub digressions from digression #1. If you think sub digressions are confusing for the reader, try that shit inside my brain for a bit. I have sub digressions and sub-sub digressions. A veritable exponential explosion of digressions. One story triggers another story triggers a memory which triggers an observation.  As I’ve gotten older it is becoming more difficult to get myself back out of the digression pathway back up to the original story. I find myself saying far too often “I have no idea where this started.” Usually, someone will get me back to the starting point (and all the other people groan because there was that short opportunity to get me to shut up, and there is always that one person who blows it for everyone). Recently, I’ve been kicking around the idea of actually publishing some of the stuff on this blog and I’m struggling what to do with the digressions. I’ve been told I need to tighten the stories up, which is probably completely true, but then they don’t feel as authentic to me, if that makes any sense. Anyway, I’m working on it. On this story however (which wasn’t really a story at all now that I think about it) I let my mind wander at full throttle. Sorry/not sorry about that.

** I do know one actual author that can legit make stuff up and sell it reads this blog from time to time, and has given me valuable advice. I do not think she is a pretentious asshole! But all those other fiction authors probably are. Except Neil Gaiman. I think I’d like him.

***I’m not sure I know what the difference between an aside and a digression is. I’m calling a digression a mini story while an aside is just a random thought that I’m compelled to add in.

****So notes like this are just another way of doing digressions. Don’t know if you noticed that or not. This is the kind of stuff that makes me laugh. Pity me.




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