Illustration of Derek Powazek by Adam Ellis

Ten years time

Ten years ago, if you’d asked me what I was, my answer would have been “songwriter.” This was before the internet had given me the confidence to tell my stories. Before the web even existed. Back when the most pressing thing in my life was picking up the pieces of my heart that kept spilling across the floor.

I wrote songs. From my teenage years through college. I played in cafes and for friends. I put out demo tapes. I poured myself into six strings and a microphone. I could hold my fingertips over candles without feeling a thing, the calluses were so thick.

Then, in 1995, the web happened. And as I put more and more of my creativity into the computer, less and less of it went into my songs. Until finally, I put away the guitar for good.

There was never a defining moment. No special decision. No epiphany. I just kinda stopped.

And that was it. My guitar collected dust, the piles of tapes and hundreds of songs sat dormant. I guarded my music like a guilty secret.

But every once in a while, when I was alone in the house, I’d still pull out that guitar and play long enough to remember the joy of it. To let myself go just a little bit, open up, and sing.

The other day I was playing a song. It’s called “A Face Among The Rest” and I wrote it for a girl. Truth is, every song I’ve ever written has been for a girl. But this girl was the first one I ever thought I’d spend the rest of my life with.

See, this is what songs are for. I can write “I thought we’d be together forever” but it just reads trite. This is what the age of irony has given us. But, man, sing it just right, with the right sound behind it, and it can still send chills.

And halfway through the song there’s this line:

“I bet you’ll find that in ten years time
I won’t even cross through your mind.”

And then it hit me. I wrote this song in almost ten years ago. Ten fucking years.

When I wrote the song, ten years seemed like an amazing amount of time. And now here it is. Ten years time. And while this would ordinarily send me on the cliched “What a drag it is getting old” trip, instead, this time, I felt liberated. As if the statute of limitations had suddenly run out, and I’d gotten off scott free.

So, if you can keep a secret, I’d like to give you something. It’s me, ten years ago, singing this song. It’s a thank you gift. For reading, for listening, for just being here with me, ten years later.

MP3: 3.1mb: Powazek-FaceAmongTheRest.mp3

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Hi, I’m Derek. I used to make websites. Now I grow flowers and know things. I’m mostly harmless. More.