This is How It Feels

Anton, Anton. You made good on your promise. I spoke to Nicky and feel better. Such an Anton way to go. I’m staying off social media to avoid the circus. How would you feel about it (the circus)? You’d hate it and love it. Scorn the hypocrites. Bathe a little in the adoration. You are (were) full of such contradictions.

The first time I met you was in the late eighties. You came to my little apartment on the West Side and we sat in the garden. I was interviewing you, looking for a producer for my first album. Gary Gersh was a fan. He was impressed with the Joe Henry record. You were in the running, a dark horse. You always said if I’d chosen you instead of Hal Willner to produce that record, we’d both have different careers. But I don’t know about that.

The next time was years later. After Geffen. I was just starting to gig again and you came to a show. I can’t remember the name of the club. They were always opening and closing in the early nineties. I think it was in the East Twenties. I was playing with Paul. We did a lot of duo gigs. Anyway, that was the night that you asked me to work with you on the record that would become This Is How it Feels. I had no idea it would be a Golden Palominos record. You didn’t tell me until it was about to come out. You put my picture on the cover. I had mixed feelings about it. Of course it turned out to be a great thing for me. Working with you changed my life.

You were my biggest fan. I could make you cry at will. Play you a new song on the guitar and you wept. Such a baby. But not in the studio. In the studio, you were exacting, a task-master, a dictator. We, the players, were your means to an end, the raw material, the enactors of your vision. And you could be brutal. By the time we made Pure, you had me lying on the floor in tears. Your worship could turn on a dime and did. It was a mistake to get involved romantically. When someone loved you, you lost respect for them, turned them into unpaid assistants. Men and women, both.

You stole my best song. A song I wrote for you and about you. I wrote it in my bedroom. You asked if we could include it on Pure, and I agreed. You said you needed a third of the publishing for your deal to go through, and I agreed. Then you called it a Golden Palominos song, and got mad when I tried to claim it. But it was my song. 100% of it.

You betrayed me and I betrayed you. We fought like cats. But you never let me down. Not really. And you gave me the thing I most cared about: the ability to make music, to record my own songs. You got me my second record deal. My career would have been over in 1991 if it wasn’t for you. I believe that.

Once you asked me to marry you and I accepted. So, we were briefly engaged. Ha! You came to my parent’s house on Long Island and asked my father for my hand. Soon after, some bit of press came out and you were unhappy with something I said, and we called it off– thank god! Can you imagine? We’d have killed each other long ago. I would have never gotten to know you as an old man. But I did. It makes me sad to know you are no longer here. But I don’t begrudge you your exit, and I understand it. Without music, what was life’s purpose?

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