Dreams. We all have them. We all want to live them. We all suffer from this misguided aspiration when we wake up to the reality of lived experience. Green Day can sing about the Boulevard of Broken Dreams all they want, but they’ve never tasted anything like the intense disappointment I have recently experienced after my new record Spare Parts was sent out for manufacturing last week.
You see, my heartfelt desire was to recruit a cast of 8 backing musicians to contribute to this record who had all been in bands with someone else named John Davis prior to appearing on this project. I had to lower my standards when only one of the options I had available to me met this qualification: Laura Burhenn. Laura made the cut because she used to be in a band named Georgie James that she led with…you guessed it, John Davis. I was impressed by her vocal work on recent recordings with her current band the Mynabirds. I was aware that she has toured as a backing vocalist and keyboard player with Bright Eyes and, forthcomingly, The Postal Service. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Look, it takes a certain je ne sais quoi to know how to put up with the John Davises of the world. And I knew Laura was up to the task.
As I sift through the wreckage of my best laid plans, a friend of mine helped me to understand the reason for my troubles. “You have to realize,” he said, “people just aren’t naming their kids John anymore. It was a popular name when you were born. But not anymore. Times have changed! No one in Brooklyn or Silver Lake or Portland names their kids John or Mike or shit like that. Look at me. I named my son Otis! Get with the times!”
A quick internet search when I got home verified his theory. I thought back to a story my friend Catherine once told me about why she hates Brooklyn. “I was standing in this bakery in Park Slope,” she said, “and I overheard this mother saying to her preschool son, ‘Agamemnon, do you want a donut?’ Has this woman ever read the Iliad? No chance!”