e(X)ene marks the spot
Six months ago I was sitting in the waiting room of a neurologist because my world had recently taken to literally spinning around me, and I picked up a copy of something like Neurology Today (although I doubt that’s the name of it but I forget). Thumbing through the pages I found a picture and article about Exene Cervenka and for a few moments I stopped worrying about me and focused on her. Sometime in the summer of 2009 she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the chronic nervous disorder that can result in the loss of muscle control, vision and balance.
This morning I was blessed with hearing her latest release on Bloodshot Records which is scheduled for March 8th, and it made me search out this quote from an article a year ago by Chad Radford: “I’m not sick right now – I’m walking and talking and everything’s fine – but someday that won’t be the case. So I just try to forget about it as much as possible and keep living with this mind-set for as long as possible. That’s the only way to go about it and keep your sanity. You can’t live in the future.”
And from the same article there’s this: “You know, I have a 21-year-old son and that hasn’t affected my songwriting,” she declares. “When I got pregnant people started asking me, ‘Is this going to change your songwriting?’ It did not. I wasn’t about to start writing a bunch of fucking baby songs, and now I’m not about to start writing a bunch of songs about being sick. That’s not what I write about.”
So anyway…there it is on the table if you didn’t know what was going on with her health. Now file it away in the deep recesses of your mind, forget about nostalgia and pity, and get ready to be blown away by an incredible album of music by a woman in her fifties who has readjusted our notion of what aging with grace looks like. For those of us who cringe from joining the grey haired army of AARP-ed bingo players and drifting aimlessly in expensive Winnebagos while sharing photos of grandchildren, Exene inspires with her music and her spirit.
Want a detailed music review here…keep looking. It’s sounds great to my ears as I sit here writing, but I’d rather cut and paste this explanation of why a year ago she decided to play at independent record stores up and down the coast:
“The reason I am touring independent record stores from San Diego to Seattle this April is that I want to play for free, to people of all ages, at a reasonable hour, in a place we love to be. I’m touring at my own expense, because I don’t want the economy to stand between my music and people that might want to hear it. Yes, I hope I sell some aprons and a few cds, but bring your X records, the kids, shop independent, and let’s have a party!”
Let me leave you with a performance at Amoeba during that tour in anticipation of the new release. I’m inspired today, and humbled.