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I walked slowly out on the beach. A few yards below high-water mark I stopped and read the words again: WRITE YOUR WORRIES ON THE SAND. I let the paper blow away, reached down and picked up a fragment of shell. Kneeling there under the vault of the sky, I wrote several words, one above the other. Then I walked away, and I did not look back. I had written my troubles on the sand. The tide was coming in.
My mother always accused me of being in love with the sound of my own voice. When we went on road trips, she’d be like, ‘Stop singing. Be quiet, you’re talking just to hear yourself speak.’ It was probably true. I like to ramble on, which is probably why I’m well suited to interviews. You know, there’s no other forum where you’re literally supposed to sit down and just talk for hours about yourself. I love it.
Let’s say hypothetically, knowing what we know now about public policy, that we could close the education gap so that it was only a couple percentage points, and we could make sure that hiring barriers and educational barriers had been leveled down, and unemployment among African Americans right now instead of being double was only 10 percent higher than white unemployment – if we got to that point , America as a whole would be a lot richer.
Going to religious places gives me clarity. When I am sitting there, I am in a state of gratitude with my defence mechanism down and am open to receiving that energy, that gives me clarity as at that time, you are listening to your heart. The heart shows you the direction in life. The mind exists only to execute your emotion.
I used to live at the Cecil Hotel, which was next door to Minton’s [Playhouse]. We used to jam just about every night when we were off. Lester [Young], Don Byas and myself – we would meet there all the time and like, exchange ideas. It wasn’t a battle, or anything. We were all friends. Most of the guys around then knew where I lived. If someone came in Minton’s and started to play – well, they’d give me a ring, or come up and call me down. Either I’d take my horn down, or I’d go down and listen. Those were good days. Had a lot of fun then.
When I’m late it matters, but when everybody else is late it doesn’t matter… If that’s the rule then just write it down and then I know, you know… I’ll read it and I’ll write it down on my balls. Right here. Right here on the back of my balls is where I’ll write it. On the very back. I’ll just lift them and write it nicely.
It reset and mended my freshly damaged and distorted view of life, and made me recognize that this thing we call music, this primal expression that we reshape and refine and define ourselves with, is the gift I was given. The ability to communicate what others feel but cannot fully express, the passing down and around of songs and stories, from Pete Townshend to Joey Ramone to me, to the audiences who take the time and effort to support our work and give us a way to support ourselves — I’m thinking this is what I am supposed to be doing.
In the old days of America when communities were separated by hundreds of miles, why were they able to thrive? Because if it was harvest time and the farmer was up in the tree picking apples and fell down and broke his leg, everybody pitched in and harvested his crops for him. If somebody got killed by a bear, everybody took care of their family.