My sister replied via e-mail. She was worried. Other e-mails were consoling, and I appreciate that. This reply to my sister will also serve to answer those fine folks that left comments (I LOVE comments...please leave them!) I'm not depressed about being a relic. On the contrary, I find it funny! I was listening to how hits get made on NPR and I realized that even though I have all the mental equipment to create those hits, I'm just not that person. I don't WANT to be current! But okay...that doesn't jibe with my dream of making money with my work, of reaching an audience. So am I engaged in parasitic movement, pulling two ways at once? Which goal should I let go? Making money or being the person I envisioned? Why did I envision myself that way? Was it a healthy vision? Maybe I started off wanting to be immortal, so I created a dream that would make me immortal without going through all the things that the immortals did when they were mortal. Why should I be Mahler when there's already a Mahler? A Wordsworth, a Frost, a Billy Joel? Who is Adam Cole? Am I the relic? Or is the relic what's keeping me from being me? Really, I'm not mad about it. I've been pondering these questions for years, and the clouds continue to lift. But what will be left when the air is clear? Hmmm...
It hit me today. I am a relic. What's even stranger, I've been working on becoming a relic since I was 8 years old. My goals in life were always to be able to play jazz piano like Bud Powell, write for the orchestra like Mahler and Ravel, write great fantasy novels like LeGuin, Bradbury and Donaldson, write poetry resembling the best work in my Literary Anthologies, write songs like Gershwin, Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen. It never really occurred to me that I was automatically dooming myself to relicdom even before I got started, that by filling my time studying bebop, late romantic orchestral music, 30 year old songs and books, that I would completely miss out on the trends of today. I somehow thought I would be able to transcend the realities of the current pulse, that I could be great enough that I would manage to reach people even though I took no time to figure out what people wanted, that I could tie all the pieces together into something unique. I no longer really know if I can do that. I'm losing faith in my vision, flimsy as it was, even as I begin to master all the disciplines I undertook 30 years ago. I'm so far behind the curve now that by the time I caught up, I'd be behind again! So what do I do? I'm a relic. Even worse than Brahms...not even a conservative alternative to a Wagneresque figure...just a relic. I have no real hope of ever being "current" to anyone. I create curiosities. They're great curiosities, but very few people are curious. Can I still transcend the sum of my parts? Create something that ties it all together and makes it relevant somehow? Maybe I need to embrace my relicdom! Comments? Thoughts? Love, Adam
This is the saddest song I've written. Many years ago I was in a studio getting ready to record a project. A woman songwriter was finishing her recording. The song was "I've Been Married to a Stranger." I was struck by the song and the idea of what this woman must have escaped to write it. Some years later I began my Feldenkrais Training. It was an intense experience for everyone, one that changed all of us. What was most amazing was that of the 20 or so participants who trained over the 4 years, about 6 got divorces in that time. Amazing and alarming, because I got MARRIED during the training! Somewhat haunted by the idea of divorce, I wrote this song about a woman that can't bear to face the truth about her life with her husband. Listening again years later as I remixed it, I had the most amazing reaction to this song: I thought, "That poor woman!" As if she were real! As if I hadn't created her! I hope this song does you some good.
Hi, AC Watchers, Mr. Sean Schemmel has produced one of my skits. It's a parody of a voice-over rehearsal. Please give a shout out to the kind and deeply talented Mr. S for bringing this skit to life. To hear the short (and deeply amusing) skit, go to and look for Bully's Burger Barn. Leave a comment for myself or Sean and let us know what you thought of this insanity. Love, Adam
This is one of about nine songs that I wrote for my wife in the course of our marriage (so far). In this particular song I was lamenting the distance that sometimes separates people who get married or remain in long relationships. After an initial "honeymoon," we begin to realize we're living with a real person and not an idealized lover. That can be scary, and we may retreat to protect ourselves. This was a plea against that kind of thing.
NOTE: This song contains adult themes. I was in a Prince phase when I wrote this. I've always admired a song like "Darling Nikki" for being both arousing and well-written at the same time. I tried to write a song about one of my turn-ons, but I'm not particularly comfortable expressing myself in this way in songs. A little embarrassing, maybe interesting, but not a keeper. Click the music tab and find "Cruel Mouth" under Lost Songs.
This is a hard song to share for several reasons. It's about as unprotected and raw as I could make myself in a song. It's also so vulnerable that it verges on the silly. It walks the line between "truly sad" and "pitiful." It's the balancing act that I find interesting. In my mind it teeters again and again, but there's something true in the song that keeps it from toppling. The title is a case in point. Most people don't associate Bruce Springsteen with tears. The association is extremely personal and might not even translate out. What I meant to indicate was that there was something vulnerable in the way he presented himself that was okay somehow, powerful and yet safe and acceptable. It was superior to the way I had been presenting myself as vulnerable, which left me very exposed and was unattractive. I was saying that I learned "how" to cry by watching and listening to him, that I found a safe way to cry by emulating him, but that it didn't answer the deeper question of what I was crying about. You might notice that the lyrics deviate from the refrain, changing Bruce Springsteen to "my Mama" and finally "your letter" in the last verse. That was my solution to the overly strange / silly vibe the title gave off. But in the recorded version it stays "Bruce Springsteen" throughout. Which one do you think works better? As for the rest of the song, it was definitely a Johnny Cash vibe. Guitar-like piano, low register. I really like the wordplay in the lyrics. They may be too clever for their own good, though. But the painful honesty of them balances them. Like I said, the song is a real balancing act. I don't think it's a successful song, and it's hard to share, but I do it for you!

Hi, AC Watchers, One of the great privileges remaining to us in this modern world is to watch unrepeatable events as they are happening. You can watch replays of amazing events all day long on YouTube, but to say you were there...

Last night I attended a unique event: A live CD recording by Joe Gransden's Big Band, a 16-piece jazz orchestra. It'll be called "It's a Beautiful Thing at Cafe 290." It'll be available at You're going to want to buy this one.

For the last year Joe's been holding sway at Cafe 290 on the 1st and 3rd Monday of every month. He's been getting his group tight enough to pull this stunt off. Hard, you say? To record an album in a month is hard. To record an album in a night is suicide! You'd need the best recording engineer, the best sound guy, the best audience...oh, and you might need the best musicians in town. Well, let's see:

Among the saxophone players was Grammy Award Winning Mace Hibbard and Atlanta Legend Sam Skelton. Trombonists included the patriarch of the entire Trombone community, Dr. Tom Gibson, and young Wes Funderburk, whose brilliant big-band arrangements made up most of the music played. In the trumpet section was Gordon Vernick, director of Georgia State University's jazz program. The rhythm section included three of the finest session players in the country, Justin Varnes on drums, Neal Starkey on bass, and Dr. Geoffrey Hayden (my teacher) on piano. Hey, that's just half of them.

What blows one's mind about this situation is that you have a room full of LEADERS all playing together. Where were the egos? Nowhere to be found. Here we have a situation where all these top-notch musicians are cutting gems out of pure diamond LIVE. They'd be forgiven for just sounding clean. But no, they were sweating bullets! They wanted to sound good for Joe. No, wait! They wanted to make Joe SOUND GOOD.

That says a lot about their fearless leader. When you're doing something crazy like recording devilishly difficult music in front of a live crowd, the temptation is to play it safe because any mistakes are going to be there forever, or are going mean hours of correction work in the studio later. Most leaders would lose their lunch in that situation, or at least their sense of humor. Not this guy, Joe. He never forgot it was supposed to be fun, swinging, a show. And it was! When the band didn't do it perfect, he just let us know they were going to do a piece of it again, and he asked us to help him out. It was exciting being part of that process, like being in on the game. As an audience member, I wanted to help Joe sound good too!

This session was hot, fun, and LIVE, and all that will come out in a couple of months. Pick it up! You're going to feel like you're there.

Dear friends, Thanks to my summer and the cooperation of my lovely wife, I've had time to get to long-awaited projects. I've completed the editing on two new novels: my science-fiction nightmare, A Thousand Points of Darkness, which is almost ready for press; and my adult fantasy The Childbearer, sequel to The Myth of Magic, which I expect to be ready to go in about a year. I'm also contemplating how to present Unplayable Upon the Harp, my music murder mystery. Most likely I'll let you read it in segments here on the site in advance of its publication. Please let me know your interest! I may even have a contest to see who can guess the ending! Nice talking with you! Love, Adam
Hi, friends, Tuesday night I attended a jazz jam session. I used to go all the time, but since I started school 7 years ago I've let my jazz activities slide. It's been years since I've jammed. I chose the friendliest session in town, Joe Grandsen's Tuesday night session at Twain's. Joe's amazing. He makes everyone feel like they're the most important person in the room. On top of all that, he's a consummate musician and a virtuosic player. That really helps, because jam sessions aren't easy things to go into. Typically you wait around, listening to other people play, never knowing when you're going to be called up. Once you get up there, if you're a piano player, you don't always know what you're going to play, because a lot of times the sax, trumpet or singer is choosing. If you're lucky, you get to play with other good players, but sometimes you wind up with folks that can't play, or don't play well with you. Worst case scenario, you'll spend three hours waiting to play five minutes with a bad combo on a song you don't know! As I said, though, Joe's session is the best. He made sure I got up there; in other words, he remembered me when there were five other piano players ahead of me. He asked me what I wanted to play, which was very generous of him! No matter who was playing, he was making sure everybody had what they needed, was all together, and that the audience was having a good time. And what an audience. Loud, appreciative. I haven't seen that kind of audience for jazz in a long time. Probably because everyone was having fun! That's important. Thanks, Joe, I'll be back. Adam

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