You may have already noticed this, but the blog is late this week. I attribute this unusual tardiness to a combination of holiday prep-induced exhaustion, poor sleep habits, too much sugar, not enough exercise, and a vague sense of melancholy. Let’s just call it a Christmas Funk for simplicity’s sake.
I’ve spent the past few days in my pajamas, ever since I returned from my in-laws’ on Christmas Eve. I’ve barely moved off my couch. The Funk had such a tight grip on me by Christmas night that I sat through one and a half airings of “Forrest Gump” because it was just too much effort to get up and look for the remote. An overdose of too much television, chocolate, and eggnog laced with Knob Creek can really do a number on your psyche.
In the midst of all this wallowing, I played a lot of iPad Solitaire and thought about the blog that I wasn’t writing. It felt, for the first time in many months, like I had absolutely nothing to say. That’s not like me. Even when I think I have nothing to blog about, I put on some music, usually the Foos, and eventually, an idea will always come along. Once the idea appears, the words will just tumble out.
But the Christmas Funk, it seems, had swallowed my creativity. If I hadn’t felt so numb, I might have been worried. But I decided to give in to the funk and let it run its course.
Last night, the 26th, I had run out of things to watch. My daughter had a suggestion. She had never seen the Foo Fighters’ live acoustic concert at the Pantages Theater in LA. The concert was filmed in 2006 and made into a video called “Skin and Bones.” There’s also a live album from the event, and both are in my library. I hadn’t watched the DVD in nearly two years, so I was game.
There’s a bit of a back story for me with “Skin and Bones.” In the early days of my Foo love affair, the “Skin and Bones” CD was one of the very first ones I found on the shelves of Best Buy. I knew nothing about it, except that it was a Foo Fighters album, and that’s why I bought it. Then later I read the liner notes and realized that not only was it a live performance, of which I’m not generally a fan, but also an acoustic concert.
ACOUSTIC??? WTF? No pounding drums? No powerful bass? No shredding guitars? No screaming Dave? It didn’t seem like the Foos I was getting to know and love. I set it aside for a long time. If there was a softer side of my band, I wasn’t ready to hear it.
But finally, my curiosity got the better of me. After a few months of the CD sitting unopened, I caved. It might not be what I was accustomed to, but by that point I was familiar with all the other Foo Fighter albums, and they hadn’t let me down yet. And I loved the second disc from “In Your Honor”, which was all acoustic tunes. The time had come to let go of my pre-conceived dislike for “Skin and Bones”, and reserve any further judgment until I’d given it a few spins.
Long story short, it was a delight. There was nothing disappointing about the Foos live and unplugged. It was just a different sound for them. And they executed that sound masterfully. Once I found out that there was a DVD of the concert, I fetched it from Amazon immediately. And it did not disappoint.
I had forgotten what a fun concert this was. By typical Foo Fighter standards, the smaller, more intimate audience at the Pantages was calm and attentive, yet still enthusiastic. This was not your average crowd of headbangers. I suspect these were fans more like me, the ones I think of as the Foo Faithful. Those of us who would say “Just show up, guys. Play us anything. We’ll listen.”
This acoustic adventure brought an expanded band with it. The usual suspects – Dave, Nate, Taylor, Chris and Pat – were joined by keyboardist Rami Jaffee, violinist Petra Haydn, and percussionist Drew Hester. The addition of so many more instruments, including Petra’s mandolin, Rami’s accordion, and Drew’s cowbell (yes, a cowbell! More cowbell!) brought a greater complexity to the band.
Why would the Foos need anything else added? How in the world would an accordion fit within a normally hard-core rock band like the Foo Fighters? Perfectly, it seems. You’ve got to give credit to Dave and company for being innovative and inclusive. Nothing is wasted, and nothing is thrown in just for kicks. It all fits together, like a magical, musical jigsaw puzzle.
Last night’s re-watch reminded me of one of the things I love most about the Foo Fighters. When this band makes music, there seems to be an abundance of joy in the process. And as I watched and sang along, I could feel that joy. I headed off to bed much too late, again. But I was humming as I went.
Just as they have so many times in the past several years, the Foo Fighters brought me back to an even keel. Maybe I’d spent too many days listening to Christmas tunes. Maybe I let myself become overwhelmed by forced holiday merriment, or maybe in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, I just didn’t let myself rest. Whatever combination of events took place and brought about my Christmas Funk, a hearty dose of Foo Fighter elation was exactly the fix I needed to shake it off.
Today has been a brighter day. I woke up earlier. I got out of my pajamas, and forced myself off the couch. I’ve baked a cake for a belated holiday celebration with family this evening, and I’ll be working on a spinach side dish and some biscuits shortly.
We were going to leave the tree up until New Year’s, but in the last two days Gibson the cat has taken to climbing the tree. Enthusiastically. So far, he has broken two ornaments, and knocked Santa to the floor multiple times. In light of this, we’ll be divesting the house of holiday décor tomorrow. It’s pretty and all, and maybe I’m a horrible person for saying this (although I really don’t give a shit if I am), but I’m never sad to see it all go back to the attic, and to have order restored to my home once again. I suspect if there is any funk remaining tomorrow, it will vanish with the decorations.
So, to the Foo Fighters, I want to extend a most heartfelt thank you for helping me get my groove back. Your music is always the cure for what ails me. Once again, I’m fired up and ready to go.
Outta my way, Christmas! 2014 is within spitting distance, and it’s chock-full of surprises. Good things are coming. I can feel it.