"i could have been a famous singer
if i had someone else's voice---
-Conor Oberst, Road to Joy
I saw Bright Eyes live, cried and sucked out the marrow.
Conor Oberst is a barbed-wire swan. His voice is raw, irreplicable. Seeing him live, I swayed in a sea of skinny jean wallflowers. Some guy had a joint. Some guy had beer. Some guy had a Kurt Vonnegut tattoo:
"Everything was Beautiful. Nothing Hurt."
"A Romantic Enters the World"
I've listened to Road to Joy a thousand times--under my blankets, running on a treadmill, outside watching birds fight and make love-- but i didn't understand it until hearing it rib-ripped from Conor:
i could have been a famous singer if i had someone else's voice
but failure's always sounded better
Imagine telling Conor Oberst to elongate his vowels. I'd just as soon tell Jack Kerouac to use a comma. Splice Hemingway's prose with adjectives. Straighten Van Gogh's brush strokes. Un-gay David Sedaris.
A Reading from the Book of Salinger:
“An artist's only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else's.”
For me, this means submitting to magazines without worrying that I might not be selected for the next Norton Anthology. There's a confidence that comes from knowing you've poured your blood, sweat, and semen (or whatever) into your work. Anyone seeing your empty husk will respect you.
Some may express their respect in the form of a very sincere rejection letter.
This is okay.
If you died a little writing it, it's perfect. If you died a lot---you're mostly dead.
Suck out the marrow, but always leave some for another poem.
No one else has your voice.