on exhaustion, art and helping. (and notes for melbourne tonight).
that’s me with denni proctor, who did the Welcome to Country at the show in launceston, and who talked to me for our patron-funded documentary about her aboriginal heritage and what happens when you’re a blond, very white-looking person from a family with aboriginal bloodlines. it was profound. (photo: luke reid).
here is some footage of the jump:
i’m going to see hundreds and hundreds of you tonight at the show in melbourne, and i wanted to talk to you before the show. because i can, and because i have a lot in my head and heart. so here goes. first of all….i wanted to quote a comment from the last blog, because it stuck with me.
Dené Steyn wrote:
I’m getting more and more upset at you.
You don’t stop and recover.
You have been feeling drained and on the edge of breakdown for months.
You can’t get to any of the blogs or emails or anything that you have wanted to do for half a year.
You are so exhausted that sometimes you can’t even perform your planned show.
You allude to the fact that you keep fighting with Neil and that you don’t get enough time with Ash.
You are breaking apart and yet you still keep doing more.
You invent new projects that emotionally destroy you.
You do things you really don’t have to do.
You involve yourself in every tragedy and it stuffs you up.
I wish you would just stop overbooking yourself and burning out and actually take care of yourself and your relationship with Neil and your son and get to the emails and blogs and past projects which are all in the works.
There are so many.
You don’t have to worry about money and therefore chase around making a million new things. You have fifty to finish already.
I know this is stern talking, but you aren’t reaching this conclusion by yourself.
I just care about you and don’t want to see you break yourself like this all the time.
so, dear…..dené. oh fuck. first of all: i love you.
thanks for caring about me, and thanks for sounding like the exact inside of my head, and also, hilariously, this is the speech i give neil every couple of months as i see him saying yes to every new shiny project without finishing up the olds ones or tending to the emails, etc.
and i won’t lie. yeah. i’m exhausted. i’m self-medicating today and on my third coffee and it’s only 11:30.
and fuck it….
i want to….well, not DEFEND myself, but also add a little context.
this is the END of a project that has taken over two years. the end of a world album tour is usually where everything starts falling apart at the seams.
cue tiny violin music.
last week i chose to add listening to 70 people in a closed room to the schedule…..and knew it would be a fiery, intense, exhausting practice.
and then:….add being in a location that has been hit by a climate-crisis fueled disaster, and boom. i want to add shows, benefits, artwork, projects. I WANT TO HELP.
I WANT TO HELP BUT I AM EXHAUSTED.
without breaking any confidences, i can tell you what the most recurring theme was in my confessional container. especially from the people who have children.
so many tears and people breaking down in that chair saying.
I WANT TO HELP BUT I AM EXHAUSTED.
and we would just sit there and cry and agree that it least this was true for all of us at the moment.
tour is exhausting. travel is exhausting. parenting is exhausting. helping is exhausting. life is exhausting. but it’s waves.
i’ve done five or six global tours.
it’s ALWAYS like this at the end.
i remember being in new zealand at the end of a world tour back in 2011, on the tarmac in napier heading to my show that night christchurch…..when we were told the flight was canceled. due to an earthquake. The Earthquake. the venue i was supposed to play in that night was destroyed. we were spared by 12 hours.
i remember being in iceland, marooned at the airport because the ashcloud exploded just as my plane touched down.
in all of these cases, i pivoted, i spun, i tried to collect myself and collect the community around me. in new zealand, i threw myself into the community and used twitter to find everybody for flash gigs. in iceland, i found a bar willing to host me for that night and put on a flash gig. there was no money involved – i think i do these things because my modus operandi in the face of disaster and exhaustion is action. i tend to heal by moving, by doing.
and it comes in waves.
i think one of the reasons i am burning the candle at three ends right now is that i KNOW that this is the end of the tour, of this album, of this season of my life.
you will be (i hope) happy to know that i have deliberately said no to every single gig, project and offer that has passed over my desk for the upcoming few months.
starting from APRIL….and pretty much through to september, ALL I AM DOING IS STAYING AT HOME AND TAKING CARE OF MY FUCKING SELF AND MY FAMILY AND MY OVERFLOWING INBOX. and making some local podcasts in new york and making home-based art and doing a couple local shows. i miss my family and this schedule has been punishing. so many delicious offers came in for this spring and summer. i said no. i’ve turned down huge paying speaking offers. you’d have been proud.
i know i need the time off, so i am taking it.
things will come up. they always do.
but i’m pretty committed to this.
i want you to know that i love your concern and i also want to make you proud of me because i am, at heart, a child who wants my parents to love me and pat me on the head.
SO, i also want you to know:
i flew back from tasmania yesterday but, in an unprecedented move, i decided to spend the night at a friends house in melbourne instead of going home to ash and neil. i had about 36 hours between landing in melbourne and doing my biggest show of tour.
i could have gone home, had dinner with them, played with ash, and spent the night as a family.
i knew i was too drained. neil agreed to do it and take it for the team.
i was so proud of this decision, to stay away from my family and take care of myself the night before my huge melbourne show. i went to yoga last night, i had one tiny drink, i hydrated, i talked with my friend, i went to bed with a book.
but also: i didn’t get a great nights sleep because my beautiful friend fucking snored and was sick with a cough….and neil texted that ash was having a complete meltdown this morning.
it’s so hard. sometimes the cost of self-care costs. whatever. i am still proud of myself.
and the next three or four days o once this show is done – are dedicated to my family. i miss them.
i thought you’d want to know that.
if you’re coming to the show in melbourne tonight, you’ll see that i’m tired.
but there is always a well very deep within me that brings up energy for shows. the crowd caffeinates me.
this show tonight is not going to be quite the show i was planning to do. it’s going to be better, hopefully.
i can’t tour without changing things. i just can’t.
the world keeps happening.
i want to add the midnight oil song – which meant arranging, rehearsing and practicing it. it felt like a magical moment playing it in tasmania and i’m excited to do it again tonight.
i didn’t know WHAT or HOW LONG the new confessional-based song would be but fuck me it’s fucking 10 minutes long (of course) and takes at least 6 minutes of explaining.
and i could just leave it out. but it’s so fresh and it’s so relevant.
MY SHOW IS ALREADY FOUR FUCKING HOURS.
that’s an extra half hour of material, if i add both those songs and stories. i mean.
what the fuck? what to do? what to cut? cut the stories about abortion? about motherhood? about miscarriage? THEY ARE ALL CONNECTED.
but also…i sit here in this cafe, relatively confident that i will know what to do, and confident that whatever i decide to cut and keep will work. twenty years of touring has taught me there are no wrong choices.
i will tell you one thing that’s been weighing heavily on my mind for the last few months…and the twinge that twinges in my gut when i read dene’s comment:
You invent new projects that emotionally destroy you.
that’s both true and untrue.
this confessional project was a great invention. it didn’t “destroy” me…it was exhausting, but it broke my heart open in the best way and connected me to this community in a way that was profound. and it unearthed a song inside me that i’m so fucking proud of.
so…while the schedule and projects may be slightly masochistic, i don’t think i’m actually destroying myself. i will tell you what IS destroying me a little: the lack of follow-up on the “black-out” songwriting project.
you remember that one?: the “SUNDAY SONGWRITING CONTEST”?
if you missed it, i aksed people to send it song ideas about than article in the NYtimes, and then i’d cover the song.
i just literally laughed out loud reading the first line of that post:
“dear loves. i am behind and i am fragile and what i usually do in these moments is things like this. i can’t help it – the urge called…”
i mean. at least i’m honest with you and myself about my bad fucking NEW SHINY IDEA habits.
but in this case, i had NO IDEA over 200 people would submit songs. i thought maybe 20 people would take me up on this idea, it would take me one afternoon to listen to the songs, and then….
and i just got so overwhelmed by the response that i had to pivot, pick one song out of the 30 that i had a chance to sit and listen to, and the result was really amazing: https://blog.amandapalmer.net/power-power-failure-first-song-official-thing/
and i promised to do a “VOLUME TWO” when i got my time back. which i will still do.
but i also think often about the 200 people who worked their asses off on those songs and didn’t get my time and artistic attention.
many of you songwriters are probably reading this. i haven’t forgotten you.
i am getting to it.
like i sometimes say in the show:
art has no statute of limitations.
and i suppose the best thing i can do as the carousel of art and time and life and patreon spins around is just keep doing what i’ve always done: explain.
this is all we can do sometimes, when I WANT TO HELP BUT I AM EXHAUSTED is the theme.
explain. fall apart and let the ashes turn into compost for a seed that will grow tomorrow.
take one day at a time.
save one burning koala.
tell one person you love them.
sometimes it’s a feat just to brush your teeth.
go to bed at a friends’ house so you can get a few hours more sleep to do your show.
take a bath so you can live to fight another day.
HERE ARE THE GROUP PATRON PHOTOS FROM LAUNCESTON two nights ago!!!
take by ursula woods, who was filming too…..and she also captures this very telling moment after the show :)…..
I LOVED ALL OF YOU IN LAUNCESTON SO MUCH.
thank you. for everything.
i have to especially thank sebastian, here on the right of me, who cracked my back every time i ran into him at the MONA FOMA festival:
FOR THE MELBOURNE SHOW TONIGHT:
we are going to try to open doors early…as early as 6:30 or 6:45 if we are able.
the show starts at 7:30 SHARP SHARP SHARP.
practice your midnight oil.
don’t forget,. THE CHORUS IS CONFUSING:
how CAN we dance WHEN our earth is turning.
how DO we sleep WHILE our beds are burning.
SO MANY VERBS & CONJUNCTIONS TO KEEP STRAIGHT
WE HAVE MADE CHARITY POSTERS!
we have 144 of these heavy-duty print posters designed by michael kemp who has donated the design. silver ink on black paper…..they’re selling for $50, i am signing all of them, and ALL PROFITS (after print costs) WILL GO TO FIRESTICKS ALLIANCE!!! https://www.firesticks.org.au/
THERE ARE ALSO HANDKERCHIEFS and all the usual stuff: albums, shirts, etc.
i will sign a pile of stuff before the show and sign out in the lobby with any time leftover before they fully kick us out of the venue. SO: buy merch early and at intermission! the show goes late and the curfew is TIGHT.
i’ll announce all that from stage but please peek at merch and buy early, because things will fly off the shelves tonight.
michael mccomiskey from team AFP will be set up in the lobby as THE PATRONATOR with a table for people to sign up to the patreon,. go HUG HIM and help him explain the patreon to people if they look confused.
we will have patreon badges for sale ! grab one if you don’t already have one.
there will be a patron photo after the show!!! i’ll try to find a good photographer to take it!!! just WAIT AT STAGE AT THE VERY END OF THE SHOW. gimme two minutes. don’t let them chase you out.
i fucking love you all.
i FUCKING LOVE YOU, i really do.
hang in there.
life is tiring.
life is hard.
life comes in waves.
make hay while the sun shines.
then take a bath.
——THE NEVER-ENDING AS ALWAYS———
1. if you’re a patron, please click through to comment on this post. at the very least, if you’ve read it, indicate that by using the heart symbol.
2. see All the Things i’ve made so far on patreon: http://amandapalmer.net/patreon-things
3. join the official AFP-patron facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/afpland
4. new to my music and TOTALLY OVERWHELMED? TAKE A WALK THROUGH AMANDALANDA….we made a basic list of my greatest hits n stuff (at least up until a few years ago, this desperately needs updating) on this lovely page: http://amandalanda.amandapalmer.net/
5. general AFP/patreon-related questions? ask away, someone will answer: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wed Jan 22 – MELBOURNE, VIC – Hamer Hall
Sat Jan 25th – MELBOURNE – CHARITY Q&A at Arts Centre
Fri Jan 31 – BRISBANE, QLD – Brisbane Powerhouse
Sat Feb 1 – BRISBANE, QLD – Brisbane Powerhouse
Fri Feb 7 – CANBERRA, ACT – Canberra Theatre
Sat Feb 8 – SPRINGWOOD NSW – Blue Mountains Theatre
Fri Feb 14 & 15 – ADELAIDE, SA – Bonython Hall, Adelaide Fringe
Thu Feb 20 – SYDNEY, NSW – Enmore Theatre
Sat Feb 22 – PERTH, WA – Perth Festival Hall
Sat Feb 29 – DARWIN, NT – Darwin Entertainment Centre
Thurs March 12th: Auckland Festival: Hollywood Avondale
Fri March 13th: Auckland Festival: Hollywood Avondale
Sat March 14th: The Piano, Christchurch
Mon 16th: Wellington Fringe – St Peters Church