Do any of you use a ‘Daily Meditation’ book? I do. I love those pocket-size sound-bite oriented self-help books, usually formatted to a page to a day, filled with positive ideas about the self and selfhood, geared to getting us through the day in a better way. I have a few, mostly kept in the bathroom. Sometimes when I wake with a dull throb of guilt or fear, negative ideas of life crowding in on me – can you relate? - which usually happens before I am out of bed or have even spoken a word to anyone, I like to pick up one of those books and see what today’s suggestion is.
In my ‘Twenty-Four Hours a Day’ book, (published by Hazelden) the entry for October 2 includes this line: ‘what does not come from the heart does not reach the heart. What comes from personal experience and a sincere desire to help the other person reaches the heart.’ I immediately took that as a reference to the book.
Since I made the decision last summer to begin work on the book, I have had to check in, constantly, with my motives. Someone close to me helped out by suggesting, “It’s a message of hope, John.” Roger gave me great advice, he said, “Speak from the heart JT, and it will be great.” I liked that, and like to think those are my motivations, but sometimes I’m not sure if it isn’t just plain old self- interest.
It’s a little of both, I guess.
Why does anyone write a book? Gela said to me at the weekend, “How does it feel now so many people know so much about you?” Artists mortgage their emotions. What else do we have to sell? And besides, I’ve been telling fans my favourite colour since 1981. This is just a bit more interesting.
Obviously one has to want to ‘get ahead’. After the signing session in Bath I thought to myself, ‘I coulda been a politician.’ If one is not prepared to get on the stump or show up for the ‘Today’ show, be prepared to talk for hours about the same subject, then one really has no business selling books to commercial publishing companies in the first place. Having said that, I do believe there is another gain to be gotten from the writing of a memoir- although I’m not exactly sure what it is, yet… It’s a mirage, coming into focus, slightly, slowly, as the process continues. It’s not unlike starting a band, or engaging in any kind of creative activity- one has to believe one has something worth saying or sharing even if that something is ‘I have nothing to say’ - I remember seeing a homeless musician panhandling on 3rd Street in Santa Monica. On the pavement in front of him he had a cardboard sign on which he had scrawled ‘Nothing to say- but you can pay me anyway’. I thought that was the most honest line I had read in a decade and stole it outright for a song.
Truth is I don’t know where any of this is taking me, but I have to keep on believing, and you guys give me confidence to keep moving forward. We want the book to find a broad audience, so we must have a belief in its contents.
The most frequently asked question on the UK book release tour was, ‘Why now?’ I almost always repeat the same three-pointed reply: One. “The death of my father almost three years ago caused me to sell the house I had grown up in, which left me with boxes of memorabilia and an immense sense of loss. The memories seemed to be leaving me at an extraordinary speed and I wanted to slow down the seepage.” Two, that I was approached by a London agent early last year with a promise that if I were to be interested in writing a memoir, now would be a good time to do it. (He inferred that the market for ‘Rock bio’s was hot right now.) The third reason was perhaps the X Factor in all this. Who knew Simon's voice was going to blow out on stage in Cannes last May? Leaving us with almost three months of cancelled shows and me sitting on my hands all summer. The devil knows about those opportunities. Call the agent! Let’s write that book!
Innocent enough beginnings.
Timing is all. As a bass player I am always going to buy into that idea. Maybe what happened was this; my heart was prized open by the passing of Dad, and there is nothing more plain and honest or downright relatable than that, and I needed to make something concrete out of that experience. Something creative and/or artistic. Ta-da! Welcome to the Pleasure Groove. And now we are days away from the book release in the USA, looking to make as big an impression here as we made in the UK – who had any idea the book would make it to #6 on the Sunday Times Best Sellers chart? Now I want to equal that success here in the adopted Motherland. I might as well face it I’m addicted to hits.
Yesterday I was sitting in the den, nursing a horrid jetlag, watching one of Dad’s favourite TV shows, ‘The Fugitive’. My heart had been heavy all day. Now sentiment came up like nausea, spurting out of my throat awfully all over the coffee table. I realize that I am still so damn sad, that I miss them and their times so much, and that the process is still very much alive and in session. All the intellectualizing and rationalizing I have been doing on the book tour seemed to have made little difference. I can still get paralyzed by the grief. When does this shit end? Answer: It never does, nor would we want it to. That’s the memory, the memorial, and the point of the memorializing. I am learning from this.
Why all this energy on a book when you could have been writing songs? Surely all available creative energy should go into songwriting? All I can say to that is that I needed this particular catharsis, this particular process. And besides, books are fun.
So, a check-in before the US book release: thank you for sharing this journey with me so far. It feels like we are going deeper, together. I could not have predicted how well you would respond to the book, and I feel tremendously vindicated. It was a good idea! We had some great times at those book events, and now I’m looking forward to something similar on this side of the pond. Stay connected and up to date on events and media with DD.com and @thisistherealJT. See you there!
Paintings courtesy of Romy Lucas http://www.romylucas.nl/