06 June 2007

Conversations with Gomez

Ooh, it's coming together! There's a documentary about the Gomez message board a brewin', to which I am very much looking forward to contributin'. (And not just because of the production credits for one and all! Woohoo!) The question I started turning over before I started writing was, just what was it about Gomez that got me, anyway?

I was keen on the song I first heard, their first FM radio "hit" that I was aware of, "Revolutionary Kind." My Dad and I both noticed it while we were having one of our idyllic summer drives, this time around the nooks and crannies of Chatham, on Cape Cod, listening to WMVY, the Martha's Vineyard station (where you'll hear more Carly Simon and James Taylor than you hear on most other FM adult alternative stations).

Then when I heard a guest DJ set by my previous Favorite Musician, Neil Finn (of Split Enz, Crowded House, and an illustrious solo career), during which he spun a tune by Gomez on Nick Harcourt's show, Morning Becomes Eclectic in Santa Monica, it was all over.

I saw they were coming to town, bought us some tickets, and brought home the Liquid Skin CD.

"Who are these guys?" my sweetie asked, incredulous.

"Just some English guys," I said. "I don't know much about them."

But we went to the show, and bought the next album, In Our Gun, quickly followed by the first one, Bring it On, and Abandoned Shopping Trolley Hotline and the Machismo EP, and then I was really gone, heels over head. For about the next six or so years.

Coincidentally, during this phase, I happened to become a mother. Turns out being a parent is quite the identity-challenging experience in many ways. Looking back over all the objects of my deepest musical affections, I believe the imaginary creative alliances (dalliances?) I have enjoyed with my Important Bands (The Rolling Stones long ago, The Who in my teen years, Crowded House and Michael Penn in the '90s and Gomez in the oughts) have all been incredibly fruitful, if one-sided, affairs that have gotten me through many an emotional swamp and sandpit.

I don't use the language of love lightly; I do fall in love when I fall in love wiht music. I go gaga. I drove my Ma around the foothills near my house on a recent visit and made her listen to the voice and tone of Elbow's singer, Guy Garvey, whose voice just grabs me there. On the days when Gomez would come to town, I couldn't think or talk about much else on the days they were around. My daughter came to recognize their tour bus.

But after my one big venture (literally a peak experience for me: going to Brighton to interview them at the end of 2003 during a trip to London with my Ma), I never really let the band know who I was, except by posting on the message board occasionally (formerly Step Inside and now an official board tied to the band's official website instead of one maintained solely by fans). All my feeble attempts to join post-show meetups fell through every time.

Yet I persisted in thinking they knew me when I hopped around in sync with Tom at their frenzied noisefests at the Fox. I thought they might recognize me dancing to them and to Ozomatli when they taped an etown show at the Boulder Theater.

But this past Halloween, I had a deflating little experience with one of the members of the band and saw what the true order of the universe really was.

I was sad then, and I feel the same sadness writing this now. It still feels like a love lost, a fantasy that reality could not support a moment longer.

Yet true to the same optimistic, pioneer spirit that sent my parents to San Francisco in 1966 (we often heard "Go West, young man!" exclaimed with a twinkle and a tongue in cheek back then), I decided to Make Something of It. For this all unfolded on the very eve of the month-long Nanowrimo competition, during which I planned to start writing a 50,000-word novel. "If I don't make some of my own noise, no one will ever know who I am," I told myself, and slunk home after Gomez' set to nurse my bruised ego for the night.

The next morning, I wrote out the scene that had put me in my place the night before at the auditorium in Denver, and I felt much better. I proceeded to write 50,000 words during that month, and have since started the second draft. Gomez may not figure as strongly in this version of the story, but they helped me start it off and that's another thing for which I am grateful.

But I'll always be most in their debt, I feel, for inspiring me by just going out and doing the thing they wanted to hear being done, regardless of not having all their ducks in a row. They have said they were fairly ignorant about guitar and music in general when they got started, but they went after something they liked nonetheless and showed that the results can be pretty cool, if a bit uneven in hindsight (sorry, fellow fans, but the ending of "Tijuana Lady" still makes me laugh).

On KFOG, a San Francisco radio station, the news guy, "Scoop" Nisker, always says, "Remember, if you don't like the news, go out and make some of your own," and I feel I have received the same creative carte blanche from Gomez. There's an artistic conversation I'm eager to become a part of, and now I know it's my turn to put myself out there. They showed me that you can just go ahead and do that, and doing so can start a thousand conversations (many of these on the message boards, a topic for another post; specifically, I think it's interesting how people on the board have a sort of collective agreement to stand in for the band for one another. That's my theory and I made it up myself).

Gomez started a conversation with me and it's not over yet. They have helped me remember that no matter how my roles may evolve throughout my life, being and expressing myself is worthwhile. Every day, they inspire me to put my ideas out there, to make something I want to see in the world, and to start my own conversations as best I can. For that (and for spending nearly three hours with me in 2003 so I could write a teensy little story for a local paper -- Rolling Stone didn't bite on my query), I will forever thank them.

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