NEW LION TERRACES
My friend Corin Ashley called me in Autumn 2011 during the darkest time of my life. It was a period that I never expected and pray I’ll not ever revisit. It felt terrible to be alive back then and even the diffusive grace of time passing has not given the memory any charm. Shit was BAD. I had fled LA, having made a sickening mess of everything there, and was literally hiding at my parents’ house on Cape Cod, not seeing friends or returning phone calls or emails and trying one last time to either get sober or just die already.
Sweet, undeterred Corin. He had mailed me a handwritten (!) letter at my last rehab in Texas that June so I texted to thank him when I returned from there to my self-imposed house of exile on the Cape. We exchanged a few more texts in the following weeks and then he did a ghastly, unthinkable thing: He called me. On the phone. He wanted to know if he could come visit me and catch up. He could bring a guitar and maybe we could do a bit of writing. Y’know, if we felt like it. To this day, I don’t know why I said yes because lordy knows I was not in the fucking mood, but I did. I said yes.
Corin made the drive from Boston to Falmouth on a grey weekday morning, arriving in my parents’ driveway with a *crunch crunch crunch* of his tires on the classic Cape Cod bed of busted seashells and small, smooth stones. A little panicky, I pushed aside a drawn curtain and saw Corin through a slice of window out of one twitchy eyeball. He had 2 styrofoam cups of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and a guitar case. I relaxed a tiny bit. I stepped outside to meet him on my Mom + Dad’s porch, we hugged and I think I might have smiled. Then, as friends of 2 decades will do (even when one of them is a fragile, almost unfamiliar ghost) we sat down and wasted no time filling each other in with events of our recent lives. Turns out, I had no trouble at all barfing all over him with every messy detail that had landed me where I was and he had some good stories, too. The sustenance of human interaction was like an explosion of oxygen and light after living in a paper bag for 6 months. I devoured his company. After talking for 10 minutes or 7 hours (who knows??) we actually got inspired and wrote some cool stuff together that day. We also toyed with some new song arrangements for the album he was getting ready to record at Q Division, the beloved studio where most of the music of my career was made. Cleo, Cherry Marmalade, Josie. Q was my home in happier times, which was most of my 20’s well into my 30’s. I couldn’t bear to think about it.
Nevertheless, soon after that, I found myself driving up to Q Division in Somerville, at Corin’s request, to lend my ears, opinions and pipes to his incredible songs and vocal performances. He was making an album. He was living his life. His rich songs and miraculous voice made me feel like I had a contribution to make. A purpose. So I practiced acting like a regular person by interacting with actual people who had come together for the purpose of committing Corin’s songs to tape.
What Corin didn’t know, nor did I, I suppose, was that during this brief period, he gave me the chance to grasp onto tiny bits of those critical, beautiful pieces of myself that I truly feared had vanished forever: Music and friendship and humanity. Hope.
I adore you Corin, and I can’t tell you how much it means to me that you invited me into your brilliant creative brain and kind heart. I am honored to have taken part in the making of your latest musical creation.
As of January 24, 2013 I have been sober for 19 months and most everything, although different than I ever would have imagined, is starting to get good again. New Lion Terraces, Corin Ashley’s album, now finished and ready to go to press, marked the beginning of my re-introduction to my own life. Art can really do that!
If you’d like to help Corin put New Lion Terraces out properly, which is to say on vinyl, the medium that his eccentric, lush, warm, tape-y songs deserve, you can pledge here. Please do! Your earholes, my soul, Corin’s ever-patient wife Darcey and their son Harrison will all thank you.