July 8th, 2011- 7:18 AM
I woke up very early today which for me is rare lately seeing that I suffer, and yes I say suffer, from insomnia. Insomnia leads to a very unregulated sleep pattern and when you’re a touring musician off the road, it can be hellish to try to get back on a normal schedule when your life expects nothing from you before noon.
I’m a fan of the morning time. I love to get up and get at it. It makes me feel productive and and energized. I’m also a lover of breakfast. I love to get up and eat right away. I love breakfast so much that I will eat it three times a day.
Sometimes by choice. Other times because I’m in and out of sleep because of my insomnia and have to take naps to function. It’s no way to live and I dislike it very much. And when I say dislike, I mean hate.
I woke up today at 7 AM after a night of tossing and turning due to this ridiculous piece of meat I call a brain. The brain that keeps me up with worry, with non sense that I can’t control. With thoughts so scattered that they make me feel like the messiest of rooms that when you walk in, you’d rather walk out and shut the door behind you because if you were to try to clean it up you wouldn’t even know where to start.
In order to fight insomnia I sometimes try to go to bed at ridiculously early times thinking it will give me enough time to worry but eventually get to sleep at a decent hour so that I can get my sleep time straight. It doesn’t always work. In fact, it barely works.
One of my biggest worries that won’t let me get to sleep is my connections to people. Meaning, friends or lost friends or lost lovers or lost family. Essentially, the past.
I sit there deep in the silence of regret wondering what I could have done differently. What could I be doing differently. What can be done differently in the future.
Complete non sense.
People have difficulty talking about things that make them feel insecure. Their secrets. For some reason, I don’t. Probably to a fault.
I used to hear my mother say to my father in a thick Portuguese accent “Antonio…you talk too much.” And what she meant when she said that was “You say too much. Keep that stuff to yourself.” I know she might have thought it made him look vulnerable, and she was probably right.
I know I get this from my dad. My candor. My honesty. My opening up and letting people in-to a fault. Some say it’s not a fault but it can be damaging to watch yourself go through the same hurt over and over because you trust when you should not trust. When you trust for the sake of trusting.
Anyhow, where am I going with this? Yes, somewhere I hope.
So to my honesty and speaking too much as my mother would say… There is this little, well, big piece of me that thinks I’m a loser. That I’m no good. I wonder where it comes from in these nights of insomnia and how I can shake it. I think to myself that I have no real friends. I have a very destructive inner monologue that says I am alone and that I will always be alone. That I will die alone because I am a bad person.
I see this lonely kid in the hallways of schools. No friends. I barely had any friends when I was a kid. In fact, before the age of 10 I don’t think I have any recollection of playing with other children. I would go to school, then come home and play alone. I’m the youngest of 3.
I think it’s one of the reasons why I’m not very good at writing songs with other people. I played alone, I write alone. After having so much taken away from me, I find it’s the only place I can have something that’s mine that no one can touch. This is not exactly a good thing…and for those of you who know me, it may also be the reason I have a problem sharing food off my plate. You can eat my left over fries, but don’t dig at them until I’m done. An awful character flaw that I am trying very much to work on. Anyhow…
When I moved to Canada from the Azores, I was 10. I could speak English but I was unbearably shy because I had never been pushed to be social by my parents. I recall a girl I later became friends with named Mena Coelho saying hello to me in Portuguese, trying to be nice, and I just stood there and said nothing. Paralyzed with fear of her. Of people in general.
I’ve always been wary of people. It’s what happens when you lose trust at a young age. There’s this internal damage that stays with you and never lets people get close.
I think because of this, I spend a lot of time trying to get close to people but never truly feeling close to people. I somehow always feel, well, alone. Even in the greatest connections I’ve had.
I like to say these things out loud because I often wonder how many other people are out there feeling the exact same way.
People ask me why I have “Lonesome” tattooed on my knuckles and this is in a nutshell why.
So today I wake up from another night of battling the demons that I am alone. That no one likes me. That I am a loser. That I have no real friends. And I say battling because I know it’s not true but it’s still there.
I get up to go grab a glass of water and find a little folded note on the counter :
I’m so grateful that you are my housemate. I don’t think I say it enough, or that we hang out enough. Hence, this note.
I’m, I… had a dream that you were gone and all your stuff was too. Terror. Not a dream- a nightmare.
I leave tomorrow for cottage. Don’t go anywhere. JF”
My roommate wrote me this note. It touched me deeply and put a huge smile on my face and made me feel less alone.
It’s amazing how something so small, so simple, can make a difference in someone’s day. In someone’s life.
What will you do today to make someone feel less alone?
A note before you read this or any other blog I write for that matter (by the way I hate the word blog). In no way do I consider myself a “writer”. I just love to write. Anything you read here will just be me thinking out loud and writing it down. I guess some people call that writing. I don’t know what I call it but I just like to do it.
So pretentious douche bags coming here with opinions about my “writing”, go back to Williamsburg or Queen West or whatever hipster area you come from and put on your vintage boots and get walking.
I welcome all opinions on my opinions and respectful conversation- but I didn’t graduate University with an English MA or whatever you want to call it. My form is horrible and my ideas are scattered. No need to tell me. I just don’t care.
By the way, I lived in Williamsburg and am now living in Queen West and they’re both amazing places to live. Life is full of hypocrisy. Get over it.
Ok. You can read now.
July 12th, 2011 -12:30 AM
Love. It rules me.
I know, it probably sounds like romantic bullshit but do I give a fuck? No. That’s what love does to me. It makes me unreasonable and fierce. In love, and falling out of it.
Love has been my best friend and my dearest enemy. I love love so much that I will do anything for it. I will give up parts of myself for it. I will give up all of myself for it. I will lie to myself in the quest for it. I will see the truth of darkness that sometimes exists in it and I will completely deny seeing it, like a scared witness who refuses to say they saw the murderer, I will turn my head and avert my heart away and eventually convince myself that I saw and felt nothing just to hang on to it.
Some of these behaviors are reasonable. Most, are not.
I used to think love was big and beautiful but found it passive by nature. Existing in a world where we would go from deep intensity and get to a point of where passion faded and comfort thrived. That comfort is what I think kills most relationships. I hate that comfort.
Have you ever been in love? I have. A few times in fact.
But have you ever had true love? Oh and there is a difference. I never knew there was such a thing until I met someone who made me feel it.
Alas, love is also blinding and it is the greatest manipulator. Even when you see that it may destroy you with it’s temporary illusion of eternity, you can’t help but dive in. The scary part is that it’s your own ego and self worth, or lack thereof, that allows for the manipulation.
But letting go is part of the beauty of it. Letting go of fear is one of the most beautiful things you can do.
But then the darkness…
In the end, when you’re left in the ashes of love all you have is yourself, alone, as we all are in death. Sometimes acknowledging the end is enough to make it through to the awakening that being alone doesn’t mean certain death for eternity, but sometimes when you lose yourself deeply in that love, it’s the deepest of wounds we can feel. So deep that when lost, we see no joy in the beauty around us that we once saw and lose hope from ever seeing it again.
Bitter, sour, unforgiving and hopeless in anger.
I feel the energy of lost love all around me, all the time. I’m intensely sensitive to it and it’s exhausting. When I’m walking down the street and get a glimpse of a persons eyes walking past me. I see it. The resentment lingering or the sadness weighing in or hurt scattering like wild fire. When we lose love, we don’t all go to the same places. Some of us heal in different ways and I believe one can heal from lost love but the loss of true love is different. It stays with you forever. You can move on, sure. You can find happiness again, absolutely. But you will always have that wound and it will always somehow be visible. At least to those of us paying attention.
The difference between love and true love is connection. And of course this is all just my humble opinion but I do regard myself as being somewhat of an expert on this topic. Why? Well, because it’s what I do for a living and have been doing for as long as I can remember. Connection is what music is about and any kind of art out there for that matter. Be it paintings, photographs, dance, film, whatever. Connection is what love is and art is in my belief, a form of love.
For example, the difference between love and true love is what makes a piece of art brilliant or tolerable. When I hear songs that give me chills because of how connected I feel to it -Halo by Beyonce or I Don’t Wanna Make Nice by the Dixie Chicks or Left And Leaving by the Weakerthans or Runaway by Kanye West or Hallelujah being covered by Jeff Buckley (and yes, I said the Dixie Chicks- go listen to that song and if it doesn’t give you shivers then you have no soul). These are songs that connect to the soul. Then there’s Katy Perry. (this is where I pretend to cough and say “douche bag” under my breath) Yeah sure you might want to dance to it and blare it in the car because in that moment it feels fun but you’re not going to take that shit home with you and feel like it connects you in a way that makes you feel less alone in the world.
If “I Kissed A Girl” makes you feel more connected to the universe, then I want whatever drug you’re on because ignorance is bliss.
And don’t sit there and tell me all art is subjective. Bullshit. Did I say that? Oh wait. Yes I did. I’m one of these assholes who believes that some things are indeed black and white and art is one of them. It’s like Count Basie said, and to paraphrase, there are two kinds of music, good and bad.
Boom. On the nose. For me, this applies to all art forms. And man, is there plenty of shit out there. It’s amazing in fact how much shit is out there. Comparatively, it’s like walking into a modern dance piece and actually being blown away that it’s not a pretentious pile of crap. Rare.
It’s as if finding good art can be paralleled to finding true love on a dating website.
Needle in a fucking massive, gigantic pile of hay.
And here they come. The people saying “But I did find true love through internet dating!” Prove it bub, cuz this boy ain’t believing it.
True love comes from chance. Time and place. A turn in the universe that took you to the exact place at the exact time in the exact moment in the exact frame of mind you were supposed to be. Am I full of shit? Maybe. If that’s what you want to believe, but I know the reality of something that would have people call me a mad man, and at one point I may have believed it myself, but the truth of it is undeniable. You can’t look for that shit on the internet. It just fucking happens.
I have been chasing love since I can remember. Even as a child I would romanticize the idea of finding that person, that lover, that you would be with forever and it would be magical and there would be castles and fireworks and feelings in your heart that would leave the cruel world outside your heart and the worry outside your heart in a land of darkness never to come back and you would live in eternal happiness. The end.
Now, I could end that extremely long and winded, childlike sentence and frame of mind with “what a crock of shit”, but I won’t.
I won’t because I know it exists. That’s not to say that it will stay forever. That’s the problem. In fact, if there is a crock, it’s that it doesn’t.
All that exists, dies. Especially beauty. I have had to come to terms with this and this revelation is not something that pleases me to say the least. And don’t call me a fucking pessimist because I’m am the most idealistic person you will ever meet. It’s just the truth.
Just because you stay together forever doesn’t mean you’re still in love. Love flows. It’s an energy. And it may flow in and out of your life at any given time. It has no mercy and it has no boundaries. It is free.
I’m about to make myself barf with the hippie talk, but I actually believe what I’m saying. And yes, everything happens for a reason. Clichés are clichés for a reason. They’re true!
What would I describe as true love? I think I had it in a bizarre moment in a basement, in a bed, with a lover, in a rich suburb of Providence, Rhode Island of all places on my way back from Boston and home to Brooklyn, where I was living at the time. Not extremely romantic sounding I know, but in the moment it was the most beautiful moment I had ever felt in my life.
I’m lying there and inside me, and in what I like to call a soul, I felt the greatest connection to the universe I had ever felt through another person. Everything just seemed beautiful and alright with the world. Like no matter what happened in the world outside or inside of me, that because of this light between us, this connection, that I would be ok. That she would be ok. That the world was as it was for reasons and for the secrets of the universe and that I need not know what they were, but that this truth was real. I felt saved and not alone for the first time ever in my life. And it wasn’t because of her that I didn’t feel alone. That’s the weird part. It was just the love that connected me to her and her to me, and as a conduit was allowing me to feel connected to everything.
I felt a light inside me as big as the sun spreading out and believe me, or don’t but I was not high. But I certainly felt like I was. It was euphoric yet completely sobering.
Sadly, it didn’t last. Not because I gave up on it but because she did. Or just perhaps it gave up on us. Like I said, love is free. It has no boundaries.
So I sit here at times wondering, will I ever have that again and I have no idea but I do know one thing, as sad as it can sometimes make me that I had it and I lost it, at least I found it. That stupid old saying is actually true.
I had to write this today because I realized this and it made me happy. I know that if I die never having fallen in love again, which I highly doubt, but if by chance I do, I can say that I will die happy in knowing that I had that moment, where from myself, through another beautiful human being, I felt the entire universe inside me.
I was with my good friend Hill Kourkoutis at noon when I found out that Amy had passed on.
We are both musicians. Singers. Songwriters. We were both in shock.
I felt nauseous. Our first words were of disbelief. Then came the lump in our throats that led from sadness to anger and back to sadness again.
I still haven’t cried. I can’t because of my treatments. A side effect that in moments like this leaves the pain deep inside with no release. I’m still getting used to it.
We both spoke of the hope we’d had for her full recovery and the excitement at the news of her going back to the studio to record.
She was one of our peers. One of us. We lost one of our own and when that happens, I can’t help but go inwards and feel the realness of what happens to some of the most talented and brilliant people in the world of music when they get lost in the confusion of fame and success.
Amy Winehouse was in my books, one of the best. Not only as a singer, but as a genuinely profound songwriter. She wrote songs that were real and from the depth of her darkness and heartache. Raw and so real.
I listened to Back To Black when it came out non-stop for 2 years and since it’s been out, no word of a lie, I listen to the record at least 2-3 times a month. I had just listened to it 2 days ago twice while painting. It is a brilliant piece of work and has been, since it’s release, on my top 10 albums to take to a deserted island, alongside Jeff Buckley’s Grace and Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
I had the opportunity to see Amy and The Dap Kings in Toronto at the Mod House in the summer of 2007. The show was brilliant and I was blown away at Amy’s natural talent. Her voice soared with little effort and she didn’t miss a note. But there was something that happened at the show that deeply disturbed me.
At the end of a song, a fan in the front row passed Amy an alcoholic beverage. She took it, asked what it was and then said into the mic, “That’s my drink! How’d you know that was my drink?” I was too far away to hear what the fan said. Amy took the drink, raised it the crowd and proceeded to take it back. The crowd exploded with cheers.
Now, it had already been extremely well noted in the media at this point that Amy had deep troubles with addiction so I found this display extremely disturbing. I stood there and looked over the cheering audience and with deep dismay thought to myself “God help that woman. Her audience is enabling her addictions.”
I have sat here all day with the deepest sadness, as if mourning a friend, someone close to me. I don’t fully understand the depth of my sadness as like most people, I only knew her through her music. But it is with that, that I come to somehow touch on why I feel such a sense of loss.
I get emails daily from people telling me how my music and my story touches their lives and it is in all honesty, a mixed blessing. Why would I say that? Well, I will try to explain this the best I can.
I have never been nor will I ever be as famous as Amy Winehouse but I have been on the the road where success creates a monster in the people around you if you are it’s focus. And yes, fame is a monster. It does things to you and to the people around you that are difficult to explain
I fully understand why someone would feel inspired by my music along with my story because I have felt inspired in the same way by others, but to be on the receiving end of comments such as “Your music saved my life.” or “I wouldn’t be alive right now if it weren’t for you.” can be extremely unbearable in moments when you are yourself dealing with darkness of your own life.
What I mean is that when I was in a dark place of deep sadness or isolation and someone was telling me that I was brilliant and that I am the reason why they are alive, it actually made my pain more unbearable because I just couldn’t understand how anyone could feel that way about me when I couldn’t even love myself and I felt like such a loser. It at times took me deeper into my darkness.
It is something that I have since learned to deal with, honor, respect and feel blessed by but I didn’t have the monster that Amy Winehouse did.
Yes, I was surrounded by immense pressure and everyone around me trying to get a piece of me. I was overworked and beyond exhausted and my mental and emotional state was not well because of all the drinking we did on the road and the tours seemed neverending. My friendships were falling apart because I had no time home from touring. My relationship was strained for the same reason. I never saw my family. And then to top everything off, I became completely isolated from my band when they decided to resent me for being the focus of all the attention we were getting, a manager who used Machiavellian tactics to keep us at bay and a record company that was only looking at the bottom line.
I was being adored by fans for putting my entire life on display and people I had admired all my life like Cyndi Lauper and Margaret Cho were now admiring me, and with all of this in my hands, I felt the most alone and unhappy I had ever felt in my life. Everything I had ever wanted and dreamed of at my finger tips and I couldn’t bring myself to enjoy any of it and THAT made me hate myself.
I felt completely and utterly alone.
But see, even with all that I went through it was nothing compared to Amy. I didn’t have the kind of fame that brought me millions of record sales and fans and sold out tours and pressure all along with an abusive relationship and no one around me to be real enough with me to intervene in my drug addiction. In fact, in hindsight, I had it easy and can hear the world’s smallest violin in the background playing “My Heart Bleeds For You.”
The thing with people when they are rich and famous and addicts is that most people don’t and can’t tread the intervention line. In fact, most of the time, they enable the addict merely in their silence and those people who do try to help are far and few between and sadly, they don’t get the support they need when intervening.
I mean, how do you get a famous millionaire who people love to stop doing drugs? But even more sad, a famous, brilliant artist who makes a record label millions of dollars in a so called troubled time in the industry with that image and with the torment that comes from being that artist? Why in the world would you do anything about that? Or even sadder, a famous, brilliant artist who people in the media make predictions on when she’ll OD and say things about her as though she were not a real human being with emotions…and they all wanted to see her fall.
And I would love the record label to come at me right now with “we did everything within our power”. Oh did you? What fucking artist do you know nowadays puts out ONE album every 5 years? Back to Black was released in 2007. It’s 2012 and there was nothing.
In my opinion, that’s enabling. Why? Because they didn’t put their foot down and say “Amy, if you don’t record an album we’re dropping you.” and actually do it. Empty threats surfaced I’m sure, like a parent who let’s their drug addicted adult child live at home and buy them food and clothes and give them spending money to buy the drugs they don’t want them to take. That’s called enabling.
This is where all my sadness turns to anger.
They did nothing because they did the math and the projections said that even waiting for 5 years for another record would be financially beneficial because of the money they would eventually make, especially seeing that the artist got free press by just being their troubled selves. The labels didn’t even have to pay to keep her in the spotlight. This is called a dream artist in the industry. And the next projection was in the event that the artist did die, well, that’s good as gold if you have the contract that says you own her. That’s just as good as releasing another record because death sells records. That’s the bottom line.
Disturbing, isn’t it?
The music industry is one of the few work places that doesn’t fire people for coming to work high. In fact, we condone it and we applaud it and are amused by it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on stage and people buy me shot after shot. I have been drunk at work many times and apparently, it’s ok.
Well, I can’t say they won’t always fire you. They WILL fire you for one reason and that reason is if you’re not making them any money. So essentially if you’re a successful drug addict and a drunk, then you’re good as gold.
I fully believe that this enabling was one of the reasons why Amy never got the proper support to get clean.
She had money, she had a home, she had St. Lucia. She wasn’t penniless on the streets of London. Unfortunately, her rock bottom was death. There’s no way up from there.
I read that Kelly Osbourne took Amy to rehab. I have so much respect for her for having done so. She did her duty as a friend. But Kelly could never do such a thing alone, and the bottom line is that Kelly could never get Amy to stop when she didn’t want to when she probably didn’t have much help herself.
I had no idea what Amy died from but I’m going to assume that it was a drug overdose or the result of the abuse her body went through because of her drug use. Some are saying it was suicide but it doesn’t really make a difference to me. She’s gone and that’s the end of it.
I don’t judge Amy at all on being a drug addict. I have no idea what her demons were and what she was struggling with. I think it’s unfortunate but I don’t think she was anything but human in her own personal journey. And sadly, I think it’s such a sad state when people out there do judge her by saying things like “what a waste”. Yes, I can see that it’s a waste that she’s gone but she wasn’t a waste. How dare anyone throw that judgement.
It is with confidence though that I can say that I am most certain that one of the many reasons why Amy ended up where she did today was because she felt completely and utterly alone.
There is something about fame that can destroy an artist. It can make you feel the most unbearable feelings of lack of self worth and if lack of self worth is something you already battle, then sadly, it can do what it did to Amy. Drugs numb those feelings when they are unbearable.
I think in part I am so sad about Amy dying because in a small way, I identified with her loneliness and isolation. Her passing was a reminder of all the pain and loss I went through with my own 15 minutes of fame and all the volatility that came with it.
I find it ironic that I once wanted the success and fame that Amy had. I don’t want it anymore and feel blessed for having escaped the claws of the fame monster. I realized today that had I had it, I would have ended up where she did. Fame is only a blessing if you can handle it. Some of us can’t. I wouldn’t have been able to deal with half of what she did.
I am still very sad about Amy dying and will be for a very long time, but I am happy that she has finally found peace. I just wish she could have found it here.
My deepest condolences to her family and friends.