Thursday, September 29, 2005

flying blind--a dream

Things were getting a bit back to normal around here last night, at least as close to normal as you can get around here. The Hermit and I were discussing maybe getting a female yellow lab puppy some time in the near future. I think the kids would enjoy having a puppy around; when we got Lady she was already 2 years old so they have not experienced watching a puppy grow up.

I actually slept most of the night, and I ended up having a dream that was funny, and pathetic at the same time. I was scheduled to play a set at a bluegrass music festival, alone. It must have been an indoor festival, and I was the first act, Friday at 7:00. Probably not the best time slot in any case. The funny thing was, I knew I was playing, yet I was totally unprepared. I had no set list, I hadn't practiced any songs, I hadn't decided what instruments to play, and they weren't even tuned. Yet I wasn't worried. (note--I've been in a somewhat similar situation, where I've been asked to play music at church, but at least I arrive at church with some ideas!)

When it came time for me to begin, there was no one in the audience yet. Good. But then the emcee showed up, and suddenly there was an audience, which looked surprisingly yuppie for a bluegrass festival. Intimidation set in. I started thinking...what song do I know that would make a good opener? I started playing Kate Wolf's "Across The Great Divide"--on piano. Great way to make a first impression on a bluegrass crowd. (note--I have performed this song several times, even once at an actual bluegrass festival, but I'm not much of a piano player) I even screwed up the first few measures and had to start over.

When that song was over, I saw a friend of mine--I'll call him "Mando Man"--standing at the side of the stage. Having no idea what I was going to do for the rest of the set, I asked him if he would mind coming onstage to help out (more like bail me out). He agreed, and somehow we made it through some songs that even sounded a bit like bluegrass. I was playing mandolin, but I had forgotten all of my chords except D, G, and A--which is enough if you happen to be playing in the key of D. My fingers felt as if they could barely move. My solos sounded hesitant, erratic, and very beginner-ish. (note--in real life, they don't sound that much different) My between-songs banter was...pathetic. One of my comments was "Now this is what you call flying blind!" Which is what we were doing. At least I was able to poke a bit of fun at myself. At some point I saw about half the audience get up and leave.

Finally I glanced at the clock between songs, and saw that there was only time for one more. I chose John Prine's "Paradise", which Mando Man was unfamiliar with. I told him, "It's just three problem!" As if he, and not me, would have a problem with anything more musically complicated. We sounded pretty good on that one, and the audience started coming back. At that point I began to wake up, which was unfortunate because I wanted to see how the dream ended. I kept on going through the verses as I gradually awoke, hoping that would keep the dream going:

When I die let my ashes float down the Green River
Let my soul roll on up to the Rochester Dam
I'll be halfway to heaven with paradise waiting
Just five miles away from wherever I am

And Daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the Green River where paradise lay
Well I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in askin'
Mr. Peabody's coal train has hauled it away

So what was this dream saying to me? And why am I taking the time to write it down? I don't know. I just thought it was pretty entertaining, when usually my dreams are much more bizarre and abstract. It was pretty close to life; the paralyzing stage fright I felt was not unlike when I am jamming informally with other people, and it's my turn to choose a song or pick a solo. It's something I would like to get over.

Practice. Don't fly blind!


the dharma bum said...

My most frequently (or at least frequently-remembered) dreams can usually be classified as "anxiety" dreams. They're usually rather unpleasant while they're going on, though their ability to so caricaturize whatever happens to be worrying me at that time can be pretty damn funny in retrospect.

If nothing else, dreams like that are nice because nothing beats the feeling of waking up from one and having that nice conscious thought: "it was just a dream."

madcapmum said...

"Paradise" has got to be one of the most gut-wrenching songs ever written. It's not just about the loss of place, but the loss of childhood and family and it's one of the few things that makes me tear up.

Are you unpracticed at loss? Just a possibility, dreams are weird and wonderful, and only the dreamer really knows.

TroutGrrrl said...

My guess is this: even when you're not sure what to do, not sure what lies ahead, when you're unprepared, you get through it. It may not be pretty, or sometimes maybe it won't be too bad, but you get through it. This interpretation also fits into the recent larger context you've been writing about.

A friend who's better at understanding fellow humans that me, has often said that she thinks dreams are a way for us to practice things, to try them on for size. Rehearsals for what's on in our minds. It often seems to me like a good approach to understanding them. Then again, who really knows...

Deb said...

Interesting insights, and they do seem to make sense. One thing that is starting to come clear, like TroutGrrl pointed out, is that I made it through the set, it may not have been the best performance but I gained confidence along the way. Another aspect is that in a time of need, I had a friend who was there to help me out; I didn't have to go through it alone. Mando Man is a real-life friend, but he symbolized all of the people that are there for me when I need them if I just ask--including the friends I have met by writing this blog! :)

Jim said...

I love that you kept singing through the verses of Paradise in an attempt to continue your dream even though you knew by this time it was a dream and you were waking up.
That happens to me so often when my dreams seem to be working toward a positive end, I'll try to 'not wake up', and have actually succeeded on occasion.
John Prine has written so many great songs and Paradise has to be one of my favorites.

Dan Trabue said...

If I was going to dream a Prine song, it'd be:

"She was a level-headed dancer on the road to alcohol
I was just a soldier on my way to Montreal
Well, she pressed her chest against me
About the time the jukebox broke
She give me a peck on the back of the neck
And these are the words she spoke

Blow Up Your TV, throw away your paper
Go to the country, build you a home
Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches
Try and find Jesus on your own..."

I'd want to dream it because of the blowing up your tv part, of course. Not the "hoochie coochie dancer" part.

madcapmum said...

Oh, no, certainly NOT the hoochie-coochie dancer, Dan! ;).

Jim said...

Seems to me your own sweet hoochie coochie dancer would be a great alternative to TV, but what would I know I haven't had a TV in years?
But I do love that John Prine song too, and it brings to mind another sweet hoochie coochie dancer song, 'You Can Leave Your Hat On', by Randy Newman the great songster who also gave us 'Political Science'.