Many years ago I made a record with Andy Dick and Willie Wisely called “The Darkest Day Of The Year”. This is not about that.
This year, on the cusp of the solstice, I found myself in Missoula, Montana as the featured guest at the renewed Swan West house concert series. Their first since the Covid shutdowns. I had my good friend Chris Sand to thank for organizing this show for me. Sandman (as he has been known on several of his releases) and I have played many shows together since meeting in Olympia in 1994. We’ve toured the country, recorded some great tracks for his records, and even shared membership in a short-lived project called Beer Pressure.
Chris opened the show with his new band, Chris Sand & The Beloved Vagabonds with Grace Decker on violin and vocals and Ian Smith on bass, guitar and vocals.
In the coolest synchronicity of the night for me, it was revealed that Ian attended a show my band Mr. Jones & The Previous played in Missoula back in the mid 1990’s. He even bought a CD. There were only 20 people at this show. My band’s gig in Missoula was 30 years ago. Missoula is not a small town. That’s some sweet synchronicity, and now Ian has the new record.
Chris Sand is a sync magnet, and I love his songwriting. The songs he has gathered for his upcoming album are some of his best yet. The song that begins the video below “Hard Lessons” might be my favorite song of the 21st century.
After Sandman’s set he gave me a very nice intro and, for a moment, it felt like my performance was going to avoid some of the drama that has visited my other sets since I’ve been playing the songs from Recognize, De-escalate & De-code. The audience was very polite and attentive. I was borrowing a sweet Telecaster (from local musician David Rogers) and an equally fine Vox amp from our host Chris Hyslop. I had some minor issues with my tuner’s battery but was able to borrow Sandman’s, so that was no biggie.
Here’s when it seemed like the show was going to come off without a hitch.
That’s when the hostilities began.
The video below starts in the middle of my song “Dylan & Moses” due to a camera glitch. What the camera doesn’t capture is the agitated physicality from an audience member which led me to stop the song I was going into out of “Dylan & Moses”.
One member of the audience called my song “fucked up” and asked me to explain myself.
I should not have taken the bait, but I did.
As the audience member correctly stated, my response to her heckling was simplistic (It’s not really possible to have a nuanced conversation with an angry heckler in the middle of a show). And yet, I still think I could have done a better job of recognizing the heckler’s concern, de-escalating the conflict and de-coding what was really going on.
While my heckler was correct that my response was simplistic, they were not correct that what I was saying was untrue.
How anyone can look at the different way Ronan and Dylan Farrow are treated in the media, and the way their non-white siblings Soon-Yi Previn and Moses Farrow are treated, and not recognize the white supremacy inherent in this double standard is a mystery to me. Why should a rich white woman who adopted Soon-Yi and Moses, and who they claim physically and emotionally abused them and their siblings, be allowed to continue to define these adults against their will. Those who support Mia Farrow’s campaign against her own children (the ones who are not sufficiently loyal to her campaign against her ex-boyfriend) are supporting a white supremacist campaign. Otherwise, they would have to acknowledge Soon-Yi Previn’s account of life in the Farrow home and her adult relationship with her mother’s ex-boyfriend, a relationship which is not dissimilar from Mia Farrow’s own relationships with Frank Sinatra and Andre Previn, once again revealing a racist double standard. Including the testimonies of the non-white Farrow adoptees would also mean addressing Moses Farrow’s account of abuse in the Farrow home, the way Mia Farrow would punish the children if they did not lie for her, and the tragic deaths of three Farrow adoptees of color, two from suicide and one from an overdose. All of this demands a re-appraisal of the white Farrow’s narrative which was the basis for the one-sided HBO hit piece from disgraced documentarians, Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering.
Why are the accusations of child abuse leveled at Mia Farrow by multiple adoptees, as well as the deaths of despair of three other adoptees, so rigorously excluded from this story by people who regularly make false statements about Woody Allen like that he “married his daughter” or that “all his films are ads for pedophilia”? Both of these easily disproven arguments were made to me by an audience member who stuck around to debate me after the show. I have huge respect for this person (if not for their false information about this particular case). You can see people saying things like this online whenever Allen’s name comes up, which is what inspired me to write this song, and why I will continue performing “Dylan & Moses” as part of my set this year.
I’m not looking to annoy my audiences or start fights. Likewise, I am not going to censor myself to avoid doing so. If this makes me a magnet for trouble, let it be “good trouble”. I’ll use what I can as inspiration, and the rest can get outta head (as well as my heart).
There is one final thing I’d like to add.
When I suggested that my song in favor of including Soon-Yi Previn and Moses Farrow (and all of the rest) in our account of the story of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen is no worse than Sandman’s reference to a “standing 69” I was being facetious. Trying (with the ham-fisted humor of a dramatist) to flip the energy with a joke. I wasn’t throwing Sandman under the bus but, having pondered it, I think I do believe that a public celebration of the standing 69 is more “fucked up” than my song.
Of course, I believe that consenting adults should be supported in engaging in whatever pleasurable activity pleases both parties and…
I can’t help but recognize the potential danger to the upside-down partner, who is far more likely to experience a head, neck or back injury if it all goes wrong than the upright partner in a standing 69. Since the upside-down partner is likely to be the lighter of the two, and since women tend to have less body mass than men of similar sizes, it strikes me that a standing 69 poses a greater threat to women than to men. Regardless of the gender of the participants it should be clear that this risky sexual behavior poses a far greater threat to those who engage in it, than a song about treating Soon-Yi Previn and Moses Farrow with the same respect we treat their white siblings.
And here’s a better documentary on the Farrow/Allen affair then HBO’s biased hit piece: