The first time I went to New York City, I fell in love. I went by way of Rye, New York. My grandfather was from there and now i was going there to stay with a friend of the family, Father Joe Egan. He was to take me to New York City the next day. I stayed in a guest room and watched Simon and Garfunkel Live In Central Park on PBS. I got nervous hearing songs like “The Boxer.” It shook me and captured my imagination. It was a strange and beautiful mystical land and I was going to be there tomorrow!!!
We went straight to the village….I was staying with yet more priests in the West Village (insert joke here), We went to Monte’s on MacDougal (a place i would frequent many times over the years). I did an open mic that night and the love affair was complete. Years later i had moved there with the urging and help of my friends and left with their urging as well. Those stories for another time. I still live in NYC in my head. So its no real surprise that I started a band called ” The Westies.”
I have seen every nook and cranny of this city in all its ugliness and in all its beauty. I’ve seen it with her pants down and seen her looking like a movie star. I did things which i will never speak of. I got sick in gutters, I fought, I bled, sang, wept, knelt, loved, betrayed, wrote, lost, won, gave, I took, i was fearless, i was afraid, i swam and sank, was thrown in the tank….i clung to dreams that were fighting me off, i hurt, was wounded, i screamed and dreamed a life unnoticed. i was forgiven and crossed, i was drugged up and lost. I laughed like a madman, i stumbled down streets with suicide in sheets, NYPD pounding at the door, with a pile of cocaine and a girl on the floor, gangsters in wait, a Port Authority whore. I was shamed, i was blamed, but i never forgot her name.
We are The Westies. We are a family. This band, The Westies, is my salvation. The Westies believe in hope. The Westies believe in the hope that even from ruin, you can rise again. The Westies believe that even in a Godless night, you can find something holy. The Westies believe in a time, when music could change people’s lives. The Westies believe that what WE, together, is greater than what we are individually. The Westies believe in a community of compassion and understanding. Of support and empathy. The Westies believe that the dark night of the soul is not a call for desperation. The Westies believe that regardless of your name, ethnicity, religion, race, orientation that you are us and We are YOU! The Westies will confront things that will make you uncomfortable. The Westies, will confront things that will make you weep. This band, The Westies, will make you laugh at the absurdity of this thing that is our time here on this planet with all of you. You are a Westie whether you want to be or not. For we are you, and you are we.
This is an older poem from 2006 that may have been the genesis for what has come to be this band….The Westies…
I dream of new york in the 1970′s for some reason
the way the ground felt, the way the air smelled
I can see papers blowing down the street, not deserted streets
I see faded green doors, Washington Square Park, old subway cars
the Trade centers stood proud
I feel a sense of danger, but i’m not afraid
The cabs even sound different
I can hear the ocean, even in midtown
The garment district Sundays seem quiet
Passing barbershops closed….the city is mine
I want her, she wants me
I hide in bus stops from the cold that curses
I hear blues on Bleeker and my boots feel heavy
McSorley’s my friend, will not recognize me…..
for i have aged, but he is ageless
Crying in taxi cabs on the way to the upper west side
Kisses in Central Park, on a spring night…
blooming with sweat and sex
I want to finger fuck this entire city
I only want to please her, for she pleased me so…..
The Westies once were kings and i see their ghosts in Armstrongs drinking to the dead…..
Hell’s Kitchen is filled with angels, dirty, broken, cowardly ones
Washington Square,…in the autumn air, sounds of leaves beneath my feet
I remember snow on 14th street,…there wasn’t a car in sight that night
The snow fell like dreams that fluttered like butterflies around my head
Saint Marks, my tears, Saint Marks, the years i have been gone
I want to go back, I want it the way it was….
I want it the way I was…