It was merely a pipe dream. To play at Saguijo was the ultimate dream of mine when I was a singer-songwriter. It seemed unlikely when I was writing songs and letting out imagined tragedies when I’m singing. Even when I made it to the next level when I was singing my songs in a café in BGC, it did seem unlikely at the time. To regulate my expectations, I didn’t hope that I’d get to perform at Saguijo, but that was always at the back of my mind.
Then after almost a year since I walked away from music…after six months of that decision to go back to it even though I couldn’t anymore…after two months since I finally decided to move forward from it…
One could think that I was undeserving of playing there. Even I had the same thoughts in the weeks leading up to it. I haven’t paid my dues. Haven’t really done the rounds like most have. I haven’t struggled like other musicians out there. My finished songs themselves aren’t personal as they’re all inspired by the experiences of others (I was frightened to write about my own experiences.) But I do deserve it. Or at least I’d like to think so.
Discounting the facts I mentioned, I have been good to people this year. I’ve done good, despite the hell I was in all year. I am a fickle believer in karma and playing at Saguijo was the universe’s way of rewarding me for my good deeds.
The gig itself was something else. There’s currently a storm in the Metro and last night, it was raining like the end of times had come. As expected, not a lot of people came. There were fifteen people in the venue, including the staff. Most of the friends that I had invited wanted to go but couldn’t make it due to the storm and the floods. As bummed out as I was about that, them missing my farewell gig, just knowing that they wanted to go to watch and be there for me makes me happy. It makes me feel like I am indeed worth a damn.
I played five songs. I think I could have played more since only three of the five that was scheduled to perform made it, but I only prepared the five: Instead, I Won’t, Relapse, Rushing Home, and my own version of the chorus of Psychedelic Furs’ Ghost In You that leads up to Ryan Adams’ Come Pick Me Up.
I deliberated with myself if I should end my last performance as a singer-songwriter with a cover. Relapse, my favorite among the songs I’ve written, is the perfect set closer. It’s the one song where I get to let everything out. From the desperate whispers to the guttural “WE FAILED! WE FAILED! I FAILED YOU…” screams at the end, it’s the song that summarized what I had to say as a songwriter.
Rushing Home was also in the running for set closer. It’s a quiet and haunting tragedy that’s been thematic in my stories. It’s the only finished chorusless narrative I’ve written that’s inspired by Johnny Cash’s tales-turned-songs.
Damien Rice’s “Volcano” was also in the running. As was Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova’s “Falling Slowly.” But I’ve always fucked the Once song everytime I sing it live, and Volcano just didn’t feel right. The last song had to be one that started it all. The song from the artist that inspired me to learn how to play the guitar and to write songs: Ryan Adams’ “Come Pick Me Up.”
The decision to include the chorus of “Ghost In You” was a recent one. Just hours removed from my set time, in fact. Aside from loving singing that song, I also needed to sing it so I can use it as a reference to how I’ll sing the Ryan Adams track. Didn’t really work. Still sang “Come Pick Me Up” in the key I wasn’t supposed to sing it in, but I didn’t care.
The night wasn’t about perfecting the songs. It wasn’t about the little fumbles that happened in the set. It was about me finally writing the ending to that book. And I got to finish it at what I consider my Bluebird Cafe. My Ryman. My CBGB. It couldn’t have been more perfect.
That said, I’d like to thank the music. Making it, creating it, is the reason why my old passions returned. If it wasn’t for it, I wouldn’t be writing again. I wouldn’t be taking photographs again. Music was the thing I needed to feel real again.