San Diego, CA – “Life is Good” – Java Joe’s – June 30, 1999

Man, it is GOOOOOOD to be back out on the road!!!!!

My time at home was punctuated by days of stainless, blissful sleep followed by days of relentless errands geared toward getting us back on the road. My “to-do” list included things like:

  • Order CDs
  • Check-up for the van
  • Check-up for myself
  • Pick up new press pictures
  • Fill CD orders
  • Send press kits to news outlets
  • Confirm upcoming gigs
  • Book hotel rooms
  • Phone interviews and
  • Repack.

Driving into San Diego, the sun was a ripe melon in the cloudless sky. At a rest stop, I opened the San Diego Tribune to an interview I gave George Varga a week ago to promote the gig tonight. It was a flattering piece with the headline; “Taylor asserts her independence and her captivating voice.” But I averted my eyes from the accompanying photo.

On my second night home, I’d proudly shown my new 8X10s to Kipp, my boyfriend, and his immediate response was, “I HATE IT!” For the next 3 days, it was all he could talk about—how much he hated my choice of publicity photo, how awful the image was, How everyone he’d shown it to, hated it also, and how strongly he felt it should never see the light of day. “Everyone will make fun of you,” he said as I defended myself, enunciating each word as if speaking to a toddler. When I showed up in tears to my publicist’s kitschy office, decorated in arcade games and 80’s lunch pails, Ariel’s response was both motherly and realistic. “Don’t listen to Kipp,” she said, “The shot is beautiful. It’s too late anyway, we’ve already sent thousands to press.” As more tears fell out of my face she held my head to her belly. “Honestly Sal, It’s so natural and unpretentious. I love it.”

*Continued Below

I love it too. The image is of me leaning up against a fence on Martha’s Vineyard. My mom’s miniature donkey, Ike, is in the background hee-hawing uncontrollably and I’m leaning forward in a moment of sincere, unadulterated, authentic laughter. When I saw the image I thought, this is who I am. This is who I want to be on stage. This is me when no one is looking and when I told Kipp in a last attempt to convince him I’d made a wise choice he said, “And it should continue to be you—as long as no one’s looking.” And that was the final straw. I got up from the table, kicked my fancy white heels into someone’s lawn off Spruce Street and walked home alone.

Now, looking at the article, I wondered if I’d been wrong and if Kipp had been right. Was the image embarrassing? and if I saw my authentic self in it, was I embarrassing too? I put the rag and the image away and out of mind. There’s no room for fear, or second-guessing or self-pity on the road. Out here, you’ve got to be teflon or your ego will eat you alive.

When we arrived at Java Joe’s we were greeted by our opener Gregory Page, who turned out to be an absolutely fabulous musician with a vest and a gote. Java Joe’s is a coffee house (no surprises there). It’s located on the southern slope of San Diego in a mellow community called Ocean Beach.
The building Java Joe’s inhabits served some religious purpose long ago. The ceilings arch like gymnasts with back-bending beams and cartwheeling iron candelabras which infuse the halls with yellow, orange, red, and gold light. The reverence-inspiring atmosphere was juxtaposed against the greater Ocean Beach community which was described to me as being “a cool hippie village” but felt haunted.

Gregory Page

A man named Sammy approached as we were settling in. He had a pad and a pen and a funny little cowboy hat on. He stood slanted forward like a solidus and, even with his hat, was no taller than my collarbone. He gave a wide grin before scrawling something in his little pad for me to read.
“Lose your voice?” I asked as he scribbled.

Sammy pointed at a hole in his throat caused by smoking. At first, I was horrified. I could feel a weighted sigh come from that nickel-sized puncture. I tried to grab myself back from shock. I didn’t want him to see my terror lest he realize his own tragedy. So I stood with a tight-lipped smile as a soldier might stand in an optimistic confrontation with a friend whose arm has just been blown off and doesn’t know it yet.

“I lose my voice all the time,” I said; but I always get it back, I thought. He handed me his note. It said, “Life Is Good.” Meeting Sammy made me realize how lucky I am to have a voice to act as a conduit between my heart and my friends.

The gig was magical. The room, which had sounded so empty and echo-y during sound check, was transformed by an abundance of people who came and paid their $8 dollars to soak up our sound and sit near the stage. By the end of the night I was high off Ocean Beach’s vibe, the smell of fresh coffee, and gratitude for meeting good people like Sammy who remind me, “Life Is Good.”