One of the most melancholic realizations I’ve come to with advancing age is that you can’t make old friends. I’m sure a lot of people are meant to drift in-and-out of your life, but some of them leave a mark that stays with you: it gets in your clothes and your soul and it stains, like coffee or blood.
Throughout this blessed banquet of life, I’ve been lucky enough, at various intervals, to meet the kind of people who could use the power of art and love and language to describe world’s beyond my own internal humdrum suburbia (I won't name names here, because I don't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable). The kind of people who, when you hear them passionately converse, or when you exchange ideas, it’s like they're singing private arias to you about the beauty and mystery and immensity of life. The connection is so Real, they feel like a travel guide for your soul.
When you were younger and idealistic about possibilities, being with these kinds of people was like sitting next to a movie trailer for your future – if you could somehow summon the courage to buy the ticket and take the ride. There were cultural and poetic and spiritual exchanges with them that you can recall in their entirety. They awakened you. They challenged you. They inspired you. They excited you. It felt like Promethean fire. These are the kind of people that Handed you things that could change your life- books and records and films – things that you knew from the second you held them in your hand were gonna blow your freaky mind.
For me, these were also the same kind of people who stuck around after my bands played shows and helped me come down and drift into a sacred space and rechannel my crazy stage energy. You know who I’m talking about.. The 2 A.M. people (holler if you here me.. but not too loud, you might wake somebody up!). You’d go back to each other’s places, and after all that noise, they’d sit you down and play Captain Beefheart or Marie Queenie Lyons or Ornette Coleman or Townes Van Zandt for you for the first time. Quiet moments of sharing and discovery, like love notes being passed back and forth. Records just sound different and more magical in the wee small hours.
These are the people you’d see a Godard film with for the first time and then talk about it over coffee for four hours. The people you'd pour the contents of your soul out to. The guy who wasn’t afraid to be a loud, drunken romantic poet. Or the girl who you had a crush on who told you that Nine Stories was just as important as Catcher In The Rye and then launched into a passionate dissertation.
I guess, if we’re being real, people like them run the gamut from deep momentary connections to rabble-rousing real deal soulmates, but whatever you want to call them, they had (and still have) the power to change the way you looked at everything. They were the ones you could tell out loud all the jokes you’d been laughing to in your head your entire life.
I've always secretly hoped I've been that person to someone along their journey. But, either way, if you find that connection, I beg you: just dive into it, baby. Go all in. Take the ride. And then write about it or sing about it or make a film about it. Because we all need to feel a little less lonely, and we all want to believe that there’s still a little magic out there in the realm of human connection..