here we are - Thing #1 is so happening.
today you're going to see the new track, "bigger on the inside", up on bandcamp.
it's your patronage that makes this possible.
for some of you (the $3+ people) you'll be getting an mp3 to download directly).
it's been so heart-growing seeing all these people tweeting that they wish they could support the patreon but can't....
lots of broke teenagers, broke college students, broke whoevers...and here's the point:
i've been telling them to please stop apologizing, that they don't need to support the patreon if they can't.
they can enjoy the music for free with no guilt.
why? because there are enough people supporting who CAN - this is why the content can remain free.
i know it's hard for people to wrap their heads around - but it's the way i like it.
i think this system is fucking great. those who can afford to support, do, and you guys make up for everyone out
there who cannot. so PLEASE know, deeply, that your support, even if it's just a dollar, is covering someone who, at this very minute,
is downloading the track and not having to pay for it, because they have no disposable income for art right now.
in time, they may, and they'll pay it forward. this is how community works, and it's beautiful. so....THANK YOU.
you're part of a huge circle, and it's awesome.
now....about this track.
you may have seen me playing this song live, somewhere in the world.
if you've read "the art of asking", i told a little story about writing it, but i'll expand there.
i wrote this song in the thick of what has been one of the hardest years of my adult life.
i hadn't written a song for over a year - because i was really throttled by everything.
my best friend anthony's cancer battle, being stuck in boston to deal with it, canceling tour, the kickstarter musician controversy exploding in my face,
my management falling apart,
i was barely holding it together and then the boston bombing and the ensuing poem kerfuffle happened - and bam, i was down.
really just...knocked out. done. i couldn't feel enough to write anything, i was too fucking sad.
i ran into a musician friend of mine at someone's university recital a few days before writing this and she grabbed my arm and
said "listen, amanda. i was at a party last night and every single person there was talking shit about how much of an
asshole you were for writing that poem. i kept my mouth shut but *i* just wanted you to know: i think you're amazing."
the next night i was in new york and ran into chad, the guitarist from the grand theft orchestra. he'd been at a party in brookyn
and the conversation had turned to Amanda Palmer's Catastrophic Life. he said: "i mean, these people hated you SO much,
dude. they have no idea who you are but i swear every person at this party was talking shit about it. wow. how do you deal with it?"
i was like: thanks, friends. how did i deal? not well. i think there's only so much of that you can take before you just want to go to bed and cry.
neil and i were living in a rental house in cambridge at the time, and i was so depressed on a couple days i did just that: i literally
didn't get out of bed if i didn't have some crucial work to do. things hadn't been that bad since college.
jeremy got very sick around that time, too.
it felt like my entire life consisted of being at hospital bedsides, watching things drip into the people i loved, and defending
my right to be a human being with feelings. i kind of gave up.
but i also felt this weird perspective, or at least, the IDEA that i should be getting perspective.
bouncing back and forth between getting yelled at on buzzfeed and seeing someone dying of cancer SHOULD give you perspective, right?
one of the last times i visited jeremy i was waiting for him to get a cancer treatment and reading some fanmail in the waiting room.
the story was so sad and so gruesome. and i felt so stupid and so helpless. at least with jeremy and anthony i could do specific things:
i could cancel tour...i could drive them to hospitals, i could...i dunno. help? but i was starting to feel too useless to help.
then jeremy died.
i was in the rental house when i got the idea for this song and neil was writing and there were other people in the house,
so i grabbed the ukulele and took it outside. it was just turning spring and warm enough to hide out there.
i can't write with anybody listening.
i went into the backyard to try to find a quiet place to write.
i hid behind the garage.
i started writing. i was happy....i hadn't written something in so long.
then the recycling truck came. i moved into the neighbor's back yard.
i finished about half the song there, and a few night later, i was due to deliver a kickstarter house party in hnashville. i forced myself to finish the song for the party (i was even a half hour late, promising the whole crowd it was worth it, as a scribbled out the last verse) and then
played it for a little room of only about 15 people with the lyrics at my feet. those people deserve a thank you - they were my
first audience for this fragile creature, and they treated me with total kindness. a wrong reaction and i think i might have torn it up.
when i went to record it, i knew i wanted zoe to play cello.
zoe has been one of my favorite collaborators for YEARS (you can hear her cello on "astronaut" and other songs on "who killed amanda palmer", and if you saw that tour in 2008, she was my touring cello-slayer).
we became a little closer when, a few months ago, zoe's husband jeff was diagnosed with advanced cancer. tumors all through his body.
they have a three year old son, alex. they basically gave jeff a death sentence.
but they'd given anthony a death sentence, too. he'd been given six months when they first diagnosed him with leukemia, and here we are, four years in,
and he's just had a bone marrow transplant and is hanging in there.
so maybe jeff would have the same luck.
he didn't. about two weeks ago, jeff died after a noble battle. zoe detailed a lot of her hardships on her facebook page, and she's turned into one of my personal heroes.
the fact that she recorded this cello part while she was going through all, while jeff was in the deepest parts of his battle, this means...everything to me. i don't think i've ever made a more meaningful sound recording. these people, this story, these instruments. it all fits together.
this is the thing. this is all about so much more than music, if you get what i mean. the music is the tip of the iceberg: it's the thread that ties a gigantic unseen sweater together: us, the people, the life, the cancer, the depression, the friendship, the stories. this is who we are.
please listen in a quiet place, with headphones if you can't get into a good quiet place. this is about the furthest thing from background music you'll ever hear. it'll sound okay on laptop speakers, but it'll hit you in the feels ten times as hard if you can hear that cello bow attacking the strings, which gets a little lost on laptop listening.
super-ideal, per artsits perscription:
alone or holding the hand of a loved one, in a darkened room, with a great stereo and at LEAST two glasses on wine on board.
here are the lyrics. i was just doing an interview with the harvard book review and mentioned this song. the lyrics started at the beginning, the way some songs do. some songs begin, in my head, with the chorus, but this one started on Line One. when i got to the chorus and the lyric "bigger on the inside" tumbled out i found myself thinking: "no way. well, maybe. is that allowed? are you really, REALLY, going to make a corny dr who reference in a song about death and cancer? is that allowed? come on." and because i've spent enough time practicing the ignoring of that voice, i answered: "yeah. sure i fucking am. i can do whatever i want. suck it, fraud police."
BIGGER ON THE INSIDE
You'd think I'd shot their children
From the way that they are talking
And there's no point in responding
Cause it will not make them stop
And I am tired of explaining
And of seeing so much hating
In the very same safe haven
Where I used to just see helping
I've been drunk and skipping dinner
Eating skin from off my fingers
And I tried to call my brother
But he no longer exists
I keep forgetting to remember
That he would have been much prouder
If he saw me shake these insults off
Instead of getting bitter....
I am bigger on the inside
But you have to come inside to see me
Otherwise you're only hating
Other people's low-res copies
You'd think I'd learn my lesson
From the way they keep on testing
My capacity for pain
And my resolve to not get violent
But though my skin is thickened
Certain spots can still be gotten
It is typically human of me
Thinking I am different
To friends hooked up to hospital machines
To fix their cancer
And there is no better place than from this
Waiting room to answer
The French kid who wrote an e-mail
To the website late last night
His father raped him and he's scared
He asked me
How do you keep fighting?
And the truth is I don't know
I think it's funny that he asked me
Cause I don't feel like a fighter lately
I am too unhappy
You are bigger on the inside
But your father cannot see
You need to tell someone
And somewhere some dumb rock star truly loves you
You'd think I'd get perspective
From my view here by the bedside
It is difficult to see the ones I love
So close to death
All their infections and proscriptions
And the will to live at all in question
Can I not accept that my own problems
Are so small
You took my hand when you woke up
I had been crying in the darkness
We all die alone but I am so, so glad
That you are here
"We are so much bigger on the inside,
You, me, everybody
Some day when you're lying where I am
You'll finally get it, beauty
We are so much bigger
Than another one can ever see
Trying is the point of life
So don't stop trying
i love you all so so much.
thank you, thank you, thank you.
and one last favor. i know it may seem like i'm asking a lot, but this last one is important.
the only way other people will hear this song is if you sent it to them.
i have no record label. nobody at any college radio stations will get a copy of this on CD. no publicist has been hired to beg spin.com
or pitchfork or stereogum to please please premiere this track.
nothing. it's just you, at the moment. if you work for one of those blogs or magazines, come find me, i'd love to talk to you. hit me up.
and you normal people: if you love this song, send it out into the world. you are the media. you are my publicist. post to facebook, post to twitter, send to a friend, do your worst. just push it out into the world, and thank you. it doesn't happen by itself....it needs a doula.
recorded at Q Division (Somerville, MA) and mixed at Mad Oak Studios (Allston, MA) by wonderful friend and engineer benny grotto (you'll remember him from "no, virginia", "8 in 8", and tons of other projects). zoe recorded her cello in san fran and beamed it over. benny engineered the final mix.
p.p.s. if you have never heard zoe's solo cello musicL: you must. check it out here, and thank me later: http://www.zoekeating.com/
photo: Ieva Urbaite, photo used by kind permission
tattooee: lyrics from "in my mind", on Denali Hyatt