The other night, H.o.p. was being a real jerk, and what came out of my mouth was, “Yeah, you better hope you grow up to be Pablo Picasso”. He had no idea I was referring to the song, “Pablo Picasso Was Never Called an Asshole”, my preference being the crazed John Cale version. He having no idea what I was talking about, I chalked one up for me and turned on my heel and left the room. On the very rare occasion he’s left speechless–that was one of them. Marty, sitting by, looked up, took a second then went, “Oh!”
Later, H.o.p. having chilled a bit, hedging toward being conciliatory, had me come in with him and sit and go through one of our Picasso books. He’d gone and looked for it and hunkered down in the bed with it to read some before going to sleep, soon calling me in to ask about one of the fairly intense portraits. It’s been a while since he’s done that with Picasso (when he was five, for months he kept another Picasso book open, referring to it over and over again, one of the acrobat paintings in particular). Next, he decided he wanted to go through the book image by image, asking about each one. And we did. Examining every page. I’d forgotten there were two pages of Picasso’s decidedly erotic drawings stuck in the middle of it all, which made explanations a little more complex. Then we went on through the book, to the very last page. About 1/4 of the way through he asked, “Are there any happy paintings?” And we talked about that, too.
H.o.p. is surrounded by music, literature (he watches us read, hasn’t himself developed a taste for reading books yet, but loves being read to, is read to daily, and knows mom writes), movies (the past few days have been spent watching “the making of” Kung Fu films and wire work), and art. We thought music was what spoke to him first and most when he was a kid and his first words were all musical artists because he wanted to listen to their albums over and over again. As a baby he cried when played lullabies but quieted immediately and listened with rapt attention to the Rolling Stones’ “Paint it Black.” He was saying “Bob Dylan” and “Thelonious Monk” before he said mom. But then one day H..o.p. picked up a crayon and started to draw on the wall. I took him and showed him my paintings. “You know why you paint on canvas or paper or wood,” I said to him. “So you can keep it or sell it. You can’t take a wall with you. But you can carry paper and wood and canvas.” He nodded his head, totally getting it, and he never ever drew on a wall again. Some things, most things, I’ve told him daily, for years, and they’ve never taken. But all I had to do with the crayons is tell him artists paint and draw on paper and canvas so they can keep it, and he understood immediately, and started going through paper like crazy (and wanting to keep all of it). I lined both walls of the hall from top to bottom and end to end with his drawings.
This was all back at the old art compound we used to live in, with several of the people H.o.p. got to meet again tonight at the big arena pop concert.
I don’t do art shows. I paint on the computer these days, never print anything out, and he sees me writing on the computer but doesn’t know what I write. So in many ways music is more evidenced around him.
He would be better served with parents who are business people, I think. But you get what you’re born with.
When he was two years of age, at the end of all the road tour days came the invitation for Marty to tour with John Mayer playing keys. And Marty said no. H.o.p. won over John Mayer. Time to stay home, focus on studio engineering and production now, be there on a daily basis for H.o.p. growing up. He didn’t want to miss out on those years. Which he would have. Marty was on the road a lot during H.o.p.’s first two years. Some of the time we were on the road with him. H.o.p. learned how to walk on a tour bus.
Then his dad was home and there began the education of listening to music with a studio ear. Who knows whether or not he’ll later have any use for what he learns growing up around it, but he’s surrounded by music. He goes down to the studio. He experiments with his own little sessions. He is partial to no instrument and studies no instrument in depth, but he takes piano (never practices, he just likes taking piano and making sounds and beats) from a long time friend of Marty’s, and this summer he started taking group percussion lessons (Samba) from another friend of Marty’s, because he loves Samba and Marty knows some great percussionists. When he’s old enough, I imagine he’ll start sitting in on sessions and learning the rudiments of engineering and production, if he likes. Just being around it, it’s funny how much you can learn. The ear becomes educated. If he decides he wants to do something with music, he’s going to have years and years head start over these kids that high schools send to Marty to intern with him.
H.o.p.’s been to lots of small shows and some festivals, but not yet to a large arena event.
A good friend of Marty’s has been touring with Mayer all this time and tonight H.o.p. got to go to his first big arena show. After all, these things are loud and he’s not one for LOUD. Several years ago his uncle was working for Howard Shore and was traveling all the time from venue to venue where “The Lord of the Rings” concerts were being staged, and he arranged for us to go to the performance here and instead we just did rehearsal because I suspected it would be too loud and intense for H.o.p. Indeed, he enjoyed it, and enjoyed meeting Howard Shore as he loved the music and listened to it at home over and over, but he sat with his head buffered by my jacket most of the time at the rehearsal and wasn’t anxious to stay.
But he’s been to lots of festivals this past Spring and Summer. His ears are more hardy. And we decided he was ready for an arena show. Marty was comped two tickets and I couldn’t go as we don’t have a babysitter, and then we decided H.o.p. should go and I didn’t want to bother with bothering for a third ticket.
So they prepared to go. With earplugs. (No reason to be ashamed about earplugs. Musicians wear them.)
And with backstage passes.
I spent two days prepping the nine-year-old for his first big arena show. It’s big. It may be loud. (Earplugs.) He’s going backstage. He’ll see his friend David LaBruyere and meet John Mayer.
Which he didn’t, meet John Mayer afterwards. They were sent to the wrong room back stage with a bunch of other musician friends and after a very loud twenty minutes with lots of commotion going on, they realized it was the wrong room and by then Mayer was gone. But at least it was musicians and relaxed rather than a meet and greet. At first it was all pretty overwhelming to H.o.p. though. Not the concert, that was fine. But the back stage commotion was at first overwhelming for H.o.p. as it was a small room with a lot of people in it.
Now, I don’t even like the industry. I hate the big industry end of it all. It sucks. Musicians aren’t the industry. I have always stayed away from parties and from industry people because I hated the industry (I have stood and literally fled the dinner table when seated across from industry PR people–after one sentence out of their mouths I have fled, I can’t handle them) and only liked back stage when it was just musicians and no one but musicians. (Marty, by the way, says the show was great, Mayer did a great job and so did all else, and H.o.p. loved it.) So I wasn’t wanting H.o.p. to meet Mayer for the star quotient. But I had hoped H.o.p. would get to meet Mayer because H.o.p. believes in meeting people. I’ve met Mayer a couple of times but it was years ago, around the time H.o.p. was born, and what I remember of it is Mayer sitting at our table, playing his music on our sound system, and I thought, “Well, he’s going to go places,” because you could see it in his head, that he was going to get there, he was ready to get out and tour 365 days a year, which many people do, travel continually, but you could tell he had the focus and didn’t have anything to detract from that single-minded focus of making it, every step precisely calculated in terms of whether it fit into that big picture of getting his music done, which isn’t easy. And now Mayer’s a star and his image is plastered everywhere. But the reason I wanted H.o.p. to meet Mayer, like I said, is because he’s always wanting to meet people. Every artist and director and musician he likes, he says, “Can I meet them?” He thinks he should be able to meet anyone. And wants to. When I was a kid it never occurred to me to meet someone, just having their work around was enough. But H.o.p., he always says, “Can I meet them? I want to meet them!” He wants to get up close and personal with everyone. The work he likes, he immediately thinks in terms of the person behind it and wanting to meet the person. Which I think is a good thing. He’s not thinking, “That person is a star! I want to meet them!” He thinks, “I like that person’s work. I want to meet them!” I don’t want him to lose that.
He DID get to see David LaBruyere and Chad Franscoviak, which was more important–LaBruyere being an old friend who knew H.o.p. before he was verbal, who’s played bass for Mayer all these years and used to live a couple of doors from us in the old Decatur art compound, and Chad is Mayer’s front of house guy and tour manager and used to live on the other side of our duplex, again, in the old art compound when H.o.p. was pre-verbal. And saw a bunch of other old friends. If they had come home without seeing LaBruyere and Chad, I would have been really pissed.
He got to see again, too, Kevin Leahy, the drummer who was on the tour bus with us when H.o.p. was learning how to walk…
And then H.o.p. saw the WALL MURAL OF THE BIG RED HAWK and THAT was the event of the night and he got a picture of himself standing under that.
And then they got lost trying to get to the car and a Marta cop was real helpful and let them on a train with his pass and they found their way to the right parking lot. And THAT was the first thing H.o.p. talked to me about when he called me, the BIG ADVENTURE of getting lost.
So, H.o.p had a great adventure, and I’m glad he got some back stage pics taken with some old buds from the old art compound.
If you’re more into Country, Marty distinguished himself nicely back stage in that regard. A woman came up to him and gave him a big hug and said, “Marty, it’s great to see you again!” And he stared at her and she said, “I’m Jennifer,” and he said, “I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to help me out, which Jennifer?”
It was Jennifer Nettles. Jennifer’s husband and Marty are friends, and he’s friends with most of the people in her band (Christian and Brandon Bush, Sean O’Rourke and Scott) but he’s only met Jennifer a couple of times.
Brandon is also an ex art compound resident.
Marty says Jennifer was nice as she could be about it, and that he fully confessed to her that he’s an idiot.
P.S. Must get a new keypad. This one keeps dropping letters.