11 Apr

The song is called Feel Like Dyin' and it is a part of the soundtrack of my life.

You can listen to it HERE.

And find more of Richard's creativity HERE.

I probably heard Richard's voice at a party around 1985-86. It would have been at the mid-point of a gathering in a backyard or someone's parent's house (parents out of town) and guitars would have been coming out of several cases.

While I've never been a musician, I grew up with them. Sing-alongs, whether they were rock, folk, punk, show tunes or all of the above, were as big a part of my teen social scene as weed and cheap beer. 

I always envied my friends who could grab a guitar and start strumming a tune as someone else called out the chords to them. I equally envied my many friends who had terrific singing voices. I was somehow surrounded in those years by a depth of musical talent that went well beyond the usual high school and junior college scene.

That first time I heard Richard sing, there's a better than even chance he was crooning Bowie. His hero. From then to now, I've heard few people cover Bowie as well as he does. Love plays a role.

Later, I'd hear Richard sing some of his original songs. A handful of those became permanent ear worms that have bored so deeply they feel entangled with my DNA.

When I first started working on Catchpenny as a TV pilot around ten or eleven years ago, I stumbled into the idea that Sid Catchpenny would have had an aborted career as a singer songwriter. In that first version, his almost-career was set in the early 70s. I wanted a song that he could use as a kind of incantation. Almost immediately I started to hear Feel Like Dyin' in my head. I wrote in it, and only later did I ask Richard if that was okay. 

A good friend, he said it was.

Years pass, as they always do.

When I reimagined the story as a book and found a publisher, I went back to Richard.

"Hey, man, remember way back when I asked...?"

He said yes again.

The book is about how emotion can imbue objects, experiences, moments or people with magic. 

As much as any song I've ever heard, Feel Like Dyin' is magical for me. It brings me a sense of warmth, risks taken and survived, delirium, romance, laughter, and the kind of passionate friendships that come almost exclusively with youth. It is drenched in all the best flavors of nostalgia.

It's hard to keep up a creative life over decades. There is always wavering. There certainly has been for me. Long detours, including at the beginning of my adult life, when I tried not to be a creator or an artist. When I wanted to fall in love with doing something "practical." And again, in the midst of my career as a writer, I made what seemed like safe choices. Took the offered opportunity instead of trying to make my own opportunities. 

Nothing ever has felt like success except doing the work I love best and believe in most. Every other effort has fed a sickness in myself. 

Richard has had his share of detours, but he's still creating. Music and puppets and bowler hats and beards, walking sticks he's doesn't need, painted nails and songs and singing.

There's nothing easy about being yourself.