Postcard Project

A Letter to Yourself

I'm constantly writing letters and postcards to other people, but it has been awhile since I wrote a letter to myself. 

When I was 15 my camp counselor said, "Write a letter to yourself, seal it up, and address and stamp it.  In addition, on the outside of the envelope, put a date on it.  When that date rolls around, I'll mail it to you."  I wrote that letter and tucked a sprig of Wyoming sagebrush in the envelope.

What a concept!  What a gift.

That letter arrived out of thin air almost a year later at a time when I desperately needed a boost of confidence and a bracing breath of Wyoming sage.  I'll never forget reading the simple words of wisdom from a girl who'd just spent more than 4 weeks in the back country of Wyoming backpacking and horsepacking.   With her ten closest friends, she'd bushwacked through the burliest section of the Wind River Range losing ten pounds in one four day stretch.   She'd taken a string of pack mules up the trail for five days, loading and unloading panniers, throwing the diamond hitch, making coffee on an open fire at daybreak.  She'd run for her life over a mountain pass as lightening sizzled the alpine wildflowers around her.  All of this made that algebra test look damn easy.

The Postcard Project is about writing letters to others.  It is about being vulnerable and connected and slowing down.

What about writing a letter to yourself?

One of my heroes Maya Angelou wrote a whole book called "What I Know: Letters to My Younger Self."  And one of my favorite corners of the web for letter writing just featured one of those letters. 

How about writing a letter to yourself? 

If you seal it up and send it to me, addressed and stamped and with a date you want it sent back to you written on the envelope, I'll make it happen. 

I swear I will.

I dare you.

I dare myself to write one to myself dated for sometime next year.  I'll post a picture of it up here as soon as I write it.

 

 

Jim Hall "Round Midnight"

The legendary guitarist Jim Hall died in early December.

He was a dear friend of mine.  We wrote letters and postcards to each other from one side of Manhattan to another, Nolita to the West Village.  I can't open my dresser drawer without seeing a stack of his letters there, without seeing his crazy, loopy, delicious handwriting. He was a faithful correspondent and he had that rare quality in his writing of always leaving you wanting more: more jokes, more interesting ideas, more turns of phrases.

On April 18, I played as part of his memorial concert at the Blue Note in NYC with Bill Frisell, Julian Lage, Scott Colley and Joey Barron.  We played my tune "If Spring Comes Now."

photo.JPG

I introduced the song with these thoughts:

"I'm not ready to be here tonight. I am not ready to sing this song. I am not ready to say goodbye to Jim.

Are we ever really ready for death?

I cannot remember if we said goodbye, Jim and I.  I certainly wasn't ready for it to be our last goodbye.

I have the last letter Jim wrote to me; I have the first letter Jim wrote to me.

Jim's correspondence was the essence of him: full of humor, full of charm, witty, charismatic, curious, whimsical, effervescent.  All done in a crazy, shaky, giant handwriting that was unmistakable from within the depths of my mailbox.

I have a letter I was writing to Jim in early December.  I am not ready to send it yet. 

There is still so much more I want to tell him."

Edwin and the Big Scroll

Edwin the faithful.

That's what I call my penpal Edwin from Surrey, UK.  He's been with me since the start of the Postcard Project. 

Right now, I am WAY behind on my correspondence with him.  He's got three letters on me, including this beauty -- written on a tiny scroll:

I'm in the midst of writing the first of the three letters I owe him.  But until then, I wanted to share this story with him about Jack Kerouac's Famous Scroll.

Kerouac typed about 100 words a minute and replacing paper on his typewriter was a nuisance, so he came up with the idea of the scroll. 

On that scroll of a letter Edwin sent me, he announced that he had just finished writing 12 songs all in one session on a big scroll of butcher paper.  Twelve songs!  On one big scroll of butcher paper!  Kerouac's smiling at you, my friend!  You should put that scroll in on a wall.  Frame it.  Make a few more and have an art show and at the opening, play all the music on all of the scrolls.  Just an idea ...

Hey Edwin!  Send me a photo of that 12 song butcher paper scroll in your next letter, will ya?

And Hey Everyone else!  Send me some postcards and letters.  Find out all the deets at the Postcard Project FAQ.

Why postcards work

Because they HANG AROUND.

In a wobbly stack of old photos in my childhood bedroom, two layers deep, I found this:

EDCback.jpg

I've been feeling low: not much practice, not much songwriting; a lot of grocery shopping, a lot of cooking, a lot of taking care of Mom.

Practicing not scales and tunes but humility, patience, suffering, service.

So unearthing this postcard -- from April 18, 2010 -- was a balm for these days of deferral, and, yes, sometimes, discouragement.

 

Why Postcards?  What do they mean to me?  See the Postcard Project FAQ.

Postcard Project FAQ

What is the Postcard Project?

You write me a postcard or a letter and I write you back.  Simple as that. 

So doesn't that make us PEN PALS?

Yup!  It does!

What is your address?

1 PENN PLZ #6246, NEW YORK, NY 10119-0002

Is this for real?  Do you ACTUALLY write me back?

Yes, the Postcard Project is for real.  Yes, I actually write you back.

How long does it take for me to receive a postcard or letter back?

Depends on what country you live in, the vagaries of the postal service (yours / mine) and the hectic-ness of my life. 

I answer every postcard and letter. 

Why would I write a letter when I could just send an email or a text?

Because it is fun!

Writing letters and postcards is part of my songwriting process. 

It is also a way to get to know my fans and stay in touch with them.  I like connecting in a human way.  I get tired of screens and pixels.  Don't you? 

How many postcards have you received since you started the Postcard Project?

About 150 and counting.

How many people do you correspond with regularly?  Did you know them before you started the project?

About 10.  I knew one or two of the "regulars" before the project, but most are complete strangers that have now become friends.

Will the Postcard Project make me a better person or the world a better place?

Most definitely!