In the beginning, according to a sacred text, woman came from man, formed using a rib taken from his side.

And thereafter man continued to form woman, not in his own image and likeness but in the image and likeness of his fantasy mate. And he declared himself to be her superior.

And all was well for woman as long as she fulfilled what man wanted. But woe upon her when she failed to do so, in myriad large and small ways.

And man imposed his will on women and indeed the entire world for tens of thousands of years. But finally, woman realized the injustice and stupidity of this system and decided to demand and create change.

The idea that the world should be human-world, not man-world, sent man's heads (big and little) into a spin and caused him to cling even more desperately to man-world.

But man-world is so last millennium (and several before). Human-world has already begun, and will become stronger and stronger until man-world is but an historical memory.

Because really, everyone should get to live in human-world.


Band of one

I miss being in a band.

As soon as I saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, I wanted to be in a band. The idea of a group making music fascinated me. There is no leader, it's an ensemble! Or so we thought. Even once we knew that wasn't quite true, still, a band has a sound, an identity, that is more than the sum of individual members. I've played in cover bands, acoustic combos, and original rock bands. The only time I've ever had any measure of success in music has been with other musicians. Playing in a band is also hugely fun.

And yet now I find myself sans band. I know a lot of musicians. I don't know if I could get any of them to start a band, but I doubt it. At any rate, I haven't really tried. After all those years in bands, I'm going for it. I am performing as a, gasp, solo artist.

(I am still open to bands and playing with other people. It's just that younger musicians mostly want to play with other young musicians, which makes sense, and most musicians my age aren't into the same kinds of things that I am. There aren't many Kim Gordons and Toody Coles in the world.)

I began this project in earnest last year, especially when I started having rehearsals with Leenie Bennett. On my own and with Leenie, I started to figure out just who I am musically. Not me in a band, not me leading a band, but me answerable to no one but myself.

It's scary. It's thrilling. It's either audacious or misguided or both. I have only my guitars, an amplifier, a small pedal board (but no loop pedal), my songs, and my voice. I want to create music that works using those components. I want that sound to define this project, at least for now. And I want to be heard. My passion for musical communication is stronger than ever.

Songs first. I've always thought of myself as a songwriter before anything else. I've been writing for almost as long as I have played guitar. I feel good about the material I have been coming up with lately. I'm pleased that some older songs, including some unexpected ones, fit this new paradigm. I used to have trouble writing unless it was for a band, which set boundaries and provided a guideline for my songwriting. Now I'm finding my own personal song boundaries and figuring out where the guidelines are, really for the first time.

I write songs. I keep the songs I enjoy playing, as long as I enjoy playing them. I send that all through an important filter: does this song sound like V. Diz? I could play any song I wanted, but I want to create a distinct sound, just as with a band.

One way I'm trying to make the sound more distinct is by really working on melody. Listen to a lot of rock songs and you will find that the melody is pretty close to the one you'd come up with if you just sang words to a chord pattern. There's a sort of default melody, one we fall into easily, and it's not special. I'm trying to stay out of that pattern or to break out of it if a song has gone that way. Interesting melody is not just for pop songs!

Guitar is making me pretty happy these days. Even though I'm older and have pain in my left hand, I seem to play better than I used to. Not more reliably. I'll still mess up a part in the studio. But I think my playing-to-accompany is better. More creative, more varied, more interesting. And since I'm not using the overdrive side of my Marshall, I can make better use of the pedals.

And then there's the voice. Oy. I can nail harmonies like nobody's business. But singing lead is a whole 'nother thing, especially without a band. If you have a good voice, great. You practise and get better. I admire such skill! But I don't have a conventionally good voice. I have a peculiar voice. Since that's not going to change, I have to figure out how to use it to best effect. For expression. To convey meaning. I allow it to be distinctive and weird and hope that anyone listening likes it better than I do.

I'm still often disappointed by what I hear, but I keep working at it. I might change the key of a song (a capo is a wonderful thing) to hit the best range for the melody. I'm letting notes be short if hanging onto them doesn't sound great. I'm learning how to sing a lot more quietly! Or rather, with my full dynamic range, something you don't usually do in a rock band. And I'm actually practising singing and working on rough spots or making changes to avoid them.

Learning to cultivate and embrace distinctiveness and weirdness is a lesson applicable to all of my music. I have always been a pleaser. Unless you're a particularly talented pop songwriter, trying to please everyone can be a terrible thing. I realized that I would all too often knock the edges off my songs, my playing, my voice. I would try to push everything toward a more conventional sound, even when I thought I wasn't doing so. But now I'm letting the edges stay sharp, and I critique every song. Is it too conventional? Is it pretty but generic? Does it really express whatever I am making V. Diz about? I'm just as tough on any covers I want to play. Do I play it well? Sing it well? Sing it poorly but interestingly? Make it distinctive? Make it my own?

Because whether people love or hate my music, the first thing I have to do is get them to listen at all. And I have no idea why people like some artists and not others. There are a lot of successful performers who I think are pretty much shite, and many I think are great but that remain obscure. Somehow, in this crowded, noisy world, I have to get at least a few people's attention. And I will never have a hope of doing that in any conventional way. My particular weirdness will either succeed or fail, but it's the only way I have a chance.

It's not as though "success" is particularly ambitious these days. I really only want to be able to play around town, maybe out of town. So all I need is to get enough positive attention to be able to have a draw, so that people will come see me when they see I am performing and thus I will keep getting hired.

In less than a week, I will be in the studio to see if all this work can sound like I want it to. Can't wait!