And what did my devotion to Scot and his various bands get me? What every drooling fanatic (to use Steve Almond’s phrase) longs for: a chance to write liner notes for one of his albums! Here are the liner notes I wrote for Feel’s third album, Steps to Reach a Human:
It was the first time the mail had been delivered in days. We were tired and scared and emotionally drained. On TV, the talking heads spoke tentatively of comfort foods and something called “the new normal” while the rest of us did everything we could to go on living. We went to work, we ate and slept, and if we remembered to, we breathed. When I came home on the day the mail carriers resumed their duties, I found a package in my mailbox, and in the package was a CD, and on the CD was the most beautiful sound I’d heard in what seemed like an eternity. The band was Feel, and the song was “Got Your Name On It.”
The music had barely begun when I realized that this was the first song I’d really listened to since our world had come crashing down, and when the chorus kicked in, I cried like a baby. Somewhere on the other side of the country, four guys in a recording studio had made a rock ‘n’ roll record, and now their music was reaching into the sad, exhausted, frightened reaches of my soul and reminding me that it was okay to live, okay to breathe, okay to feel. The music touched me. The music brought me back to life. The music made me feel human again. To this day, I can’t hear that song without remembering what it did to me, how it unlocked the heart I’d locked away because feeling nothing at all beat the hell out of the alternative.
In the intervening years, Feel has done what rock bands do. They signed a record contract. They released an album. They toured and toured and toured and toured. They left their record company. They lost a drummer and picked up a new one. They released a second album, then toured and toured and toured some more. Now, with the release of Steps to Reach a Human, the cycle begins again. The band will rehearse and go on the road. They’ll lug their instruments in and out of clubs and bars and coffee shops. They’ll eat greasy food and soldier through sound checks. They’ll play for their fans and head off for the next venue. And one song at a time, they’ll remind us all of what it means to be human, what it means to be alive.
April 28, 2006