BRIEF BLOG INTRO:
If my life was a game show, I'd be in the Bonus Round. I almost died. Didn't die and now... The Bonus Round, where time speeds up and the prizes are better. For my 60th birthday year, I recorded an album, I'm doing some concerts around New York City and I even composed a concert Mass which debuted on June 7. I update a few times a month these days, and I don't spam. So it's easier to keep up with me by following by Email. When this blog began, it was to track my death. I'm told it was the first AIDS blog. You can start at the gruesome beginning if you want. Or just jump in and maybe we can learn some life lessons together. Welcome to the Bonus Round. I'm Steve, The Songwriter.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

2012: First Thoughts.

When I sat down to write this, I had meant to write 2013: First Thoughts. Instead, even though I saw all those Internet reminders about practicing to write 13, I wrote 12. So, this is officially a pre-statement. Like Issue 0, to put it in comic book terms. It's 4am. The only sound is the cat snoring, the barely noticeable traffic outside. Even in New York, 3am is 3am.

I've been quiet over the holidays here on this blog because someone I know in my private life, a family member, is facing a life or death situation, though the prognosis is hopeful and all signs are positive. And I just haven't felt like talking much.

So, my first thought is that it's nice, sometimes, to just be quiet. Even in a world where blog posts and Tweets and Facebook streams are constant.

2012 was a big year for me for several reasons, not just because my longtime dream of getting a London production of The Last Session came true (thanks, Rob Harris), but because the producers let me hang out with the actors and production team. Like a family member or a mascot. I liked that! How awful if I had had to just sit in the back and be all aloof, like they do in the movies. Wear a monocle.

I was not well during that period of time. I had a kidney stone that was causing me grief. But, somehow, I had suppressed the pain and tried, as hard as I could, to just live in the moment. To be so thankful and happy that it was happening, that I would relieve myself of the worry usually associated with putting up a new production, like "Is anyone going to like this?" How many times have we read stories about authors who pace the lobby, drinking heavily and sweating over every little moment?

The fruit of that labor will be brought forth for the rest of the world to see, given the fact that they videotaped it and cut a cast album. Those who remember the original production will find this one very different, in more than a few ways.

For one thing, we get to see "Jim" in the booth. And, in Ron Emslie, one who feels absolutely real as a musician and tech guy, because he actually does that in real life when he's not touring in Shakespeare or something. The relationship he establishes with Darren Day's Gideon is quite touching. You really believe the two of them have been friends for years. We see them and their love for each other, especially in one loving gesture, early on. (Thanks, Guy).

And because we believe them, the play begins in reality and stays there.

Looking back, this has also been a very hard year for me, healthwise. I've had to make a lot of changes in diet, for instance, and still have more to make. I hit the ER a few times. But I'm doing well. I'm strong and I feel good as long as I keep to my diet and are being creative.

And on that score, I have, over the three or four years we've been here, created rich friendships with a number of creative artists here in New York and in London, as both mentor and mentee (which is, apparently, not a word). Mark Janas, himself recovering from brain surgery, mentoring me in composition. Andy Gale, mentoring me in acting and directing.

In a way, I feel like I've been in school for the past few years and this year, I'm not so much graduating -- I don't believe I'll ever stop being a student -- as showing off my homework.

For one thing, I turn 60. I look at that number and it seems unreal. For some, age is depressing. They hit each decade and talk about how depressed they feel that youth no longer is a part of their identity. (All that means is that you are hanging out with people who are too young for you. In much of our circle, 60 is practically newborn. What I hear more is "Ah, I wish I could be 70 again.")

But for me, getting to 60 is an achievement. I'm bruised, bloodied and weary, but I'm still standing. I wrote on my FB page "This year I turn 60. That's what happens when you don't die."

This year is going to be quite eventful for me as an artist and writer. For one thing, Jim has promised that we'll do another performance of The Big Voice: God or Merman? for my birthday on October 4. But, looking ahead, this year the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus plans to include a couple of new compositions for their upcoming Harvey Milk tribute and the Christ Church Bay Ridge choir will be debuting my new Mass, Missa Appassionata. We are also planning an all-star benefit performance of New World Waking here in New York, and The Last Session-London cast album and DVD will be released.

I told Jim it's SteveFest 60! A worldwide celebration of the work of the AIDS songwriter who refused to die.

I just need to get a few more continents involved to make that happen.


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