It is interesting how an intimate object can change you, change you in a deep creative way. As someone who has written about indie music for the last seven years and recently decided to dip my toe (x that) dive head first into the singer songwriter persona after having left that way of being an entire life time ago I can attest, no, confess to the power of such an object. For me it is a vintage Sears Roebuck green sports coat.
Several weeks ago I was looking for some sort of funky jacket that I could throw on for a submission video I was shooting for the NPR Tiny Desk Concert Contest. It was not a hard look, a dedicated search. I was not going to drive to a dozen thrift shops, just one. It was all or nothing for that day. My wife and I visited a local Goodwill in my area and after quickly navigating through the mostly horrible selection of suits and jackets I felt this one. It felt formidable and while it is some sort of poly blend it feels strong and resilient. It feels like you could pull someone up from a cliff or lower them down from a second story window if your house is on fire.
As I held it up with a Spock like raised eyebrow it definitely looked old but sharp and, quite frankly, too small for me. I put it on anyway and while I had to suck it in a bit to button it closed it felt good. Like a second skin really and I have to lose weight anyway. The 3/4 shiny lining looked kitschy but interesting and it was “The Classic Condition” and if there is one thing I am in constant need of it is some class. When on, the shoulders kind of stand out military straight and the gold medal buttons may look corny now but in some other world or time they probably provided someone with that extra bling they needed even before that word was in fashion. In some real way this green jacket was speaking to me and at $5.96 it was a steal.
The NPR contest stated that all performers must do so behind a desk. So I fashioned a fold out table like one in my basement and threw some vintage things on it. A vintage Corona typewriter, a 1950's Astatic harp microphone and a funky Halloween piece with clackity teeth rounded out my motif. Other nice features are always there like the iconic black and white framed photo of a sleeveless John Lennon taken by Bob Gruen (circa 1974).
All that window dressing was fine but it was the green jacket hanging on my wooden chair that clearly made the most difference in my ability to perform. When I slipped it on, pulling and tugging at it to conform to my body it felt like a hug of confidence. I jaunted upstairs, out the front door and pulled some flowers with purple hues from my wife’s hanging planter. Sock hat on my head and one glove to cover a band aid on my left had and I was ready. Not only did the vintage green jacket make me feel like a performer it also beautifully matched my old 72 Jumbo Guild guitar. They seemed destined to perform together.
Over the next several weeks I dawned that jacket again and again for a series of videos to choose from for the contest and now it has become the thing I have to put on to perform. It is like my cape. Like David Dunn in Unbreakable reaching for his green security pancho that is like a shroud and cape that old, old jacket for brief moments in time make me feel unbreakable too. Then I look at the video performance and thing I suck but for those few minutes that damn jacket works magic on me. I eventually Googled this coat and while I could not find it exactly my research has made me believe that it was made in the 60’s so it is a survivor. That much is true.
My rebirth as a writer of songs will involve doing some live performances in front of actual people and I cannot fathom doing so without this magical jacket. I know this is the absolutely corniest thing to say or write but I like to think this jacket found me. This notion appeals to my Disney like sense that there are magical moments from time to time and besides it is an Irish green just like Tinkerbell’s outfit.