War Poets

In January of 2012, at the start of the War Poets project, producer Kevin Bowe and I met to discuss possible songs for the album. We bantered around a bunch of songs we might cover, but ended up agreeing that we should try to write all new songs. Kevin grabbed his Taylor acoustic and played a cool riff. I did what I always do when I write a song — I close my eyes and envision what the music is telling me.

The song’s location came to me immediately. The story was taking place in SoHo in New York City. I could see the trains, I could see the streets, and I could feel the energy. Kevin caught on right away and added a great chorus and bridge.

As I contemplated scenarios, I debated whether the song was about love, relationships, or maybe the city. I wanted to push it a bit and write about closeness and touching and fearless passion. However, the more I wrote, the more it became clear that my vision for the song was not about a man and a woman. Instead, this was about an LGBT couple or couples that had lived long enough to struggle with their sexuality and their individual images. I knew when I wrote, ”Your fingers paint a masterpiece all over me,” that this is a same-sex couple together.

During the bridge, the tone of the song changes. I wanted to sing about difficult times and that they can be overcome: ”We’ve been here before/Heartbreaks and broken down dreams until you walked right though my door.” But who walked through the door? Why has it been so tough? That led me to research the Gay Rights Movement more thoroughly and I discovered the Stonewall Uprising documentary, directed by Kate Davis and David Heilbroner. The film gave me an entirely new understanding of the nearly impossible odds that the LGBT community has overcome, and it is why the video is dedicated to the Stonewall uprisings.

I also wanted to show some still photographs in the video so I contacted Getty Images and Redux Pictures. They provided some powerful images for us, but it was the discovery of San Francisco photographer named Daniel Nicoletta that truly solidified the power that I wanted to portray. Daniel is a gay man that has seen many changes over the years. Amongst the photos we were allowed to use were his portrait of Harvey Milk, his own self-portrait, and the haunting photo of Danny Celeri walking down the white hallway, which is an AIDS metaphor. The connection with Daniel is truly a gift that I will cherish for years to come.

For the video, I had some helping hands–I am grateful to our production company, Lucky Productions, and all of the actors in the video; and to director Toni Trussoni, producer Chris Bueckers, director of photography Eli Ljung, and film editor Dan Geiger for all that they did to complete the project. I am especially grateful to Rev. Jered Weber-Johnson, director of St John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in St Paul, MN, for allowing us to film in the church and also for his self-portrayal as the priest who marries the couples and after walking through the door, symbolic of the new world vision of LGBT equality.

”Close Enough” is a song about the excitement of love and its ups and downs, but more than that it is a declaration that there is no longer room for discrimination and bigotry in 2012. The title says it all regarding how far LGBT people have come in their travails towards equality.

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