Kind of Blue Velvet Blazer

I’m wearing my blue blazer today. It’s almost like velvet, but not quite. Elizabeth complimented me on it when I walked in. Thank you, Elizabeth.

And, in case you were wondering, Elizabeth is wearing red. And orange. (Some people call it "salmon.") She gets kind of wild like that, sometimes. With her colors, that is. Wild with her colors.

Often, when Pete and I talk about music—when we try to put into words the ideas we’d like to convey in our own music, or when we hope to communicate those feelings stirred in us by the music of others—we refer to colors.

"This album is all red and orange," he’ll say.
"I know what you mean."

When it came time to offer Todd some direction for the artwork which would accompany our new album, it soon became clear that it would be very difficult to describe exactly what we wanted. In fact, it would be impossible. Once Todd had the colors figured out, however, it was all quite easy breezy.

If you take a look at the comments given to last Friday's blog entry, you’ll notice that JA recommended Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue as fast headache relief. Had I seen that recommendation before I left the office on Friday night, I would have certainly taken him up on it. Luckily, I didn’t.

I say "luckily" because, after walking in this morning and taking off my blue blazer, John came over and handed me a gift.
"It’s Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, Stephen."
"Wow, JA. This is awesome."
"It’s a dualdisc. It was the only one I could find."
"Thank you so much!"

I gave him a 1970’s-style high-five. I wanted to give him a hug, but we’ve already satisfied our inappropriate-behavior-for-the-workplace quotient—by far.

Again, I must say: I am very lucky. Many bosses come around only to give their employees grief. They give their employees headaches. My boss comes around with gifts to cure my headaches.

Right away, this reminded me of that Tuesday morning I walked into our office—back when we were still at 110 Fifth Avenue, near Union Square—crying my eyes out, crying my heart out, crying all of me out in sadness and desperation and complete and utter It’s Over, It’s Over, It’s Over.

It was one of those moments that exist forever, I imagine, as great, big markers on the timeline of a person’s life. Life-changing moments. I wrote about it, in detail, here. It was almost exactly two years ago. Things have changed wonderfully, and two years doesn't seem very long at all. I’ll try to re-tell it as quickly as possible now. What had happened was this:

I had just moved into my beautiful, new apartment in Jersey City. I spent all weekend cleaning up, unpacking, and making things comfortable. On that Monday, I would go to work. After work, our band was scheduled to practice at our studio, which was in Hoboken. I would rush home from work to pick up my guitar and head back out to the studio.

Two pieces of info here:
1. Prior to the move to Jersey City, I would bring my guitar with me to work on those nights when we had practice. It was easier for me to do this than to go home to Newark just to collect the guitar. Living in Jersey City offered me the luxury of leaving the guitar at home.
2. I had just sold five guitars which I liked very much to purchase this one guitar which I loved, an Epiphone Korina Flying-V.

Long story short: I get home to find that the beautiful, new apartment had been broken into. A hole had been crushed into the wall outside my kitchen entrance. When that didn’t work, the thief climbed in right through the front window. A trail of mulch and dirt was carried into the kitchen from the small garden outside. My heart raced as I trudged through the apartment, taking inventory. Wondering if the thief was still with me, I took a hammer from a drawer, and climbed the spiral staircase (it really was such a nice place) upstairs to my bedroom where I kept the guitar. The first thing I noticed was that the clothes from my laundry bag were thrown about my room. Apparently, the thief used the laundry bag to haul away the goods.

I don’t want to get too much into the devastation I felt. Violation, fear, anger. And, yes, among other things, the guitar was stolen.

Strangely, the thief didn’t take any of my CDs or LPs. Certainly, they were easy enough to take. They were right there, all piled up nicely. Not a fan of indie music, I supposed.

Okay, so as if that wasn’t bad enough, I called the guys from the band to let them know that I wouldn’t be able to make it to practice. About an hour or so later, they arrived to console me, but they also had another bit of news:
The band was breaking up.

This was easily the worst day of my life. It seemed as though everything that meant anything at all to me had been erased from my world. I didn’t feel comfortable at home, I wasn’t particularly happy with my job at the time, I didn’t have a girlfriend, and I couldn’t play music—not with my band or by myself. It was over, over, over. What was I living for? What was I living in this part of the world for? I would quit my job, break my lease, and move back to Florida to live with my mother.

That was the idea, at least.

And, so, I walked into the office that Tuesday morning crying like a baby whose bottle has been taken away—of course, there are more important things in the world than that baby’s bottle, but to the baby, there is nothing, nothing, nothing—when John Atkinson came around.
"What’s wrong, Stephen?"
"My apartment was broken into. My guitar was stolen…" I couldn’t continue through the tears.
Without pause, John responded: "Oh, Stephen, I’ll buy you a new guitar. I know how much it means to you."

And, suddenly, all my tears seemed so silly. Of course I told John that I couldn’t accept such a gift from him. But that didn’t matter. A week later, I was sitting alone in my bedroom, playing a cherry-red Gibson Flying-V.

Can you believe that? Can you believe how lucky I am?

Besides John’s very generous gift, I must also say that my friends came over with chicken and pizza and beer. That helps, too. Another friend, Mike Olear, called me up to work on a song. I know now that he was doing it to help me recover, and I love him for that. The song, "Comeback Attempt" was later completed by the band, and is track 4 on the new album, which was recorded by Mike. It's my favorite track.

In other news:
Elizabeth is presently eating an orange, some Mike & Ikes, and a salad, along with coffee and water.
And I’ve been listening to Kind of Blue all day.

Yes, as a matter of fact: it is kind of blue.
With a little silver and some black thrown in there, and maybe even a quiet little swirl of deep yellow every now and then.

John Atkinson's picture

Oh Stephen, getting you the Flying V was the very least you deserved. But to give credit where it's due, then-publisher John Gourlay and then-ad reps Keith Pray and Brian Georgi chipped in also.

Donald N.'s picture

Man - rough deal. Man, I have always like JA's writing but, wow - what a nice guy! Friends make themselves known when you one needs it the most. Kind of Blue is one of my favorite albums - classic. As you now know, makes a great gift!