(Soapbox Column #13)
Bass Player Magazine
Published March, 2002
To my dearest:
I was hoping I'd never have to write this letter. It seems unbelievable that I'm even doing it. But because I love you, and because of all we've been through together, I feel I owe it to you. After seven years, you deserve the truth and nothing less.
I remember when we first met back in 1994. We were both so young. A friend of mine was already friends with your parents, and he told me about how they needed some advice on the latest addition to their ever-growing family. I wasn't sure I could help, but I said I'd do my best. It turned out to be a fateful meeting for both of us, as I was smitten from that very day. The first time I held you in my arms and felt you inside my hands, I knew there was something special between us.
I wasn't sure I was ready for another relationship so soon. I was still grieving the sudden loss of my last love, abducted in broad daylight from my home and gone without a trace. I had both abandonment and commitment issues, and wasn't sure about jumping back into the game so soon. But your family was so reassuring, so comforting. And you, you were just a baby. To the outside world, you didn't even exist yet. You were my special secret...my little "proto."
Sure, we had our tough times in the beginning. Things didn't feel quite right, and I had to have your parents rip your neck off a couple of times in the first year of our relationship. (You never did forgive me for that, but I continue to believe it was the best thing for both of us.) But you always shined when we went out together, to clubs, on tours, in venues large and small. Nothing sounded quite like you, nothing reflected what I wanted to hear as well as you, and when I held your body up against mine, and wrapped my left hand around your neck, and dug into you with my rough, calloused fingers, there was a synergy so powerful I still find it hard to describe.
And people noticed. When they saw me, they saw you. The society pages showed us together in photo after photo. People were talking and saying all the right things. That's not why I fell for you, dear - of course not! - but I don't think either of us minded the attention, which I always saw as an outward reflection of our inner bond.
So, what happened?
First, I have to admit something. Sometimes, during our relationship, I had nights where...well...I strayed. Never in public - I wouldn't do that to you. But sometimes, in private moments, on those nights when I said I had to stay late in the studio, there was someone else. Sometimes a musician just needs something different, as I'm sure you've heard. These times were rare, I assure you. But it happened, and I thought you should know. As a matter of fact, something tells me you did know, and that you understood just so long as I always came home to you, and we always went out together the next night.
Which we did. We saw so many great places, you and I. Paris. London. West Virginia. And you never had a problem maintaining yourself in the back of those awful trucks on those long, painful drives, or in those overhead compartments on airplanes. I always admired you for your quiet strength, your grace under pressurized cabins. You were always there for me. I was just flipping through one of our many picture albums. There we were, in shot after shot, me and you against the world. I thought we'd last forever.
Then we had our first serious argument. You remember, don't you? That seedy club in Hollywood? I know it was a dingy, dirty place, but we went to plenty of dingy, dirty places before and you never seemed to have a problem with it. Now all of a sudden you were making noise about lighting and grounding and whatnot. Lots of noise. I begged you to cooperate, but you were having none of it. You weren't going in there. If I wanted to hang out in places like that, I'd have to bring somebody else. You'd see me when I got home, thank you very much.
Who else was I going to bring, I asked myself, shaken. It's scary getting back into that scene - the uncertainty, the fear of failure and rejection, the sudden unfamiliarity with my right hand. It had been so long since I'd been with someone else in public, I wasn't sure if I could do it. I asked my friends for advice, and they introduced me to a friend of theirs from Seattle, someone who was willing to go out every once in a while and wasn't looking for a commitment. Most importantly, she didn't mind this club in particular. So I gave her a shot, with adjusted expectations and a heavy heart.
And I fell for her.
It happened slowly, over the course of a year. I felt my hands open up, revitalized, as I moved with her in ways I didn't think possible. And to listen to her, to feel her vibrating in my hands, against my chest...it was like I was born again. A new sound came out, one I could call my own. I had no idea just how much I'd changed while we were together. By the time I realized I was looking for someone new, I already had her in my arms every other Wednesday night in that seedy club in Hollywood. I'm in a different place now. I'm in love all over again. But I don't want to be insensitive, so I'll spare you any more intimate details.
You've probably been waiting for me to say something, anything. I'm sure it hasn't been easy, locked in that closet in my garage for the past year. Seven years is a long time to be together. Sometimes it's still hard for me to believe we don't go out anymore. But life forces us to change and grow. It's natural and, I have to believe, healthy.
So I guess this is goodbye. I...[sniff]...I have to move on. I want you to know that I'll always look back on our relationship and smile in the knowledge that we did amazing things together. Nothing can take that away from us. Deep down inside, you'll always be a part of me.
And I sincerely hope that, at sometime in the future, we can see each other again, in my room, with you in my lap and the music playing, with my left hand wrapped tightly around your neck...just like old times.
We can still be friends, right? I truly hope so. After all, you'll always be my little "proto."
Love and best wishes,
Reprinted with permission from the March, 2002 issue of BASS PLAYER. For subscription information, please visit http://www.bassplayer.com.