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The Fool from the Moonlight Project

I was all inspired on Valentine's Day to make a short movie combining the fearful, apocalyptic weather with the latest poisoned bait set out for me by a former lover. She knows my appetites, cooks herself as sugar for my tongue, and the vortex spilling out of the Arctic meant I had a great visual and emotional palette from which to draw a portrait on my favorite time of the year, where lovers muddle. But my birthday is April, another hallmark for fools, and some magnetic energy pulled me from one flavor to another, and here is the result, a few days late, from my ongoing study of betrayal and jealousy and why these things mean everything in the kind of affair we all hope to fall into so we can brag the rest of our lives about getting burnt to a crisp.

In the middle of recording one of our songs for the Moonlight project, I began experiencing the oddest attack of nerves. While the musicians got miked and engineered on a massive song in the recording studio, I would slip away and burst into tears. I mean, wailing. The song was not coming out the way I had envisioned, but the strange tune was better than anything I had imagined. The song was smacked to life one night by Peter Fox and I, and we initially structured it as an alt-pop martini that tasted a bit like Radiohead and would play like MGMT, but songs are the most renegade creations in art; a tune will not dress up and go out in any way except its own. (Some songs of course are bitterly harnessed by their owners, and are masqueraded as songs but are nothing other than rhythms or rhymes derived from the mainstream howl, but this is another story or post, not now!) And that song began to lean in a Nashville direction, uncontrolled by me, its co-author.

The father of two children, Steve McCormick, bumps into me in the hallway and sense that I am out of sorts. What's the problem? I am crying my eyes out because the song is betraying me with another sound and it's so beautiful and there's nothing I can do about it. I saw a look on Steve's face that I'd never seen before, a melt, a paternal sympathy that is its own brand of love and concern, and following that look he gives me a hug, and of course this is just the battery I need, and we go into the studio to monitor the proceedings, and he keeps right on engineering the song toward Nashville, but now with a glance every half hour at my direction, protective, encouraging: you will love every song no matter how it grows up.

And for me, determinedly solo, this is a lesson in nurture. Which brings me to the next song in the Moonlight suite, also mushrooming out of a single encounter with Peter one night. Do you fool yourself, I keep repeating, over and over, and Peter ends up at the piano rubbing magic into the melody until even I can sing along to those words that kept popping out of my lips. Do you fool yourself, with your telescope, gazing through the Milky Way, looking for love from long ago? Except it doesn't quite scan, and we need a single syllable: With your ______ telescope. And the word "toy" bursts in and Peter smiles as he keeps the polish on the swell and swoon of the melody. Milky Way becomes "starry skies," but I still have my little respect to Galileo and the idea of burned out stars as my metaphor for falling in love.

That new song, The Fool, becomes what you will hear in the video attached. Kristin Mooney did us the honor of singing it up, and Michael Jerome supplied the pulse throughout. The chorus cropped out of a one-hour jam with Steve, irascible and ornery when he is being told what to do; but Peter is called out of town, and the chorus has to be done, and I'm not budging until Steve comes up with something that fits. We go for a milkshake in the middle of it all, and I insist on talking about falling in and out of love and how I long for the mankiller who decides I might make a wonderful victim, but I do not mention the song or its chorus. With Peter, the songs between us hang in the air for hours, and need no backstories or structural building blocks, we just sing it out until a song gives up its idea as a melody, rather than the other way around, when a melody is coaxed into an idea, much more lamely, usually. But Steve's is a different method, and he is not swayed by enthusiasm alone. Except he can't ignore the heartbreak bit. Can I be serious about the toxic poisonous brutal mankiller? Is that anything to wish for? We don't know each other well, and he is a difficult sell, but Steve like any poet is swayed finally by my insistent promotion of an endless song, divided into 144 parts, impossible to finish or define, and he is forced to ask himself if I am fooling myself.

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