‘The ghost of Goffman’ Archive

So lemme tell you why we’re here.

Friday, May 7th, 2010

[Note from headquarters: a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I had hidden the original version of this blog, called “Inside Baseball”, on my Web site because I wanted to whine in private. Now, on the other hand, I’ve put all my musings into the blog, and the whining is lost amidst the vast sea of intellectual detritus. This was the original introductory page, in all its horrid glory.]

So I’m an acoustic performer in Boston, Massachusetts. I’m pretty damn good, frankly. And several years ago, I hired a pair of performance coaches – yes, you can hire performance coaches – named David Fishken and Buffie Groves, and it was a splendid use of my money, because I learned immense numbers of things from them, and because David said, “Sam” – he said – “you should make the most of your talents. Write a newsletter.”

And so “Sam Bayer’s Low Notes” was born. And I yammered on charmingly about all sorts of things – my songs, my view of life, the nature of art in America, etc. And life was good.

Except that one day, I wrote a column called “Dan Blakeslee Is Better Than Me”, in which I talked about, well, why I thought Dan Blakeslee was better than me. Don’t ask me why I thought this was a good idea, but I wasn’t thinking too clearly, because one of my fans wrote me and said, pretty bluntly, “Um, I didn’t subscribe to this newsletter to hear about Dan Blakeslee. I want to hear about you.”

Here’s what I forgot: my newsletter, like every moment I spend in a club where I’m going to be on stage, is a performance. I don’t get to be me – I get to be “Sam Bayer”, whoever that person is, the gracious, expansive guy who gets on stage with his percussionist and charms and delights the crowd with pithy observations and high-energy, funny acoustic music, the guy who smiles and shakes your hand and thanks you for coming. Yes, I’m “Sam Bayer”, and I mean it all, every word of it – but it’s exhausting to me.

Me, well, I’m shy and misanthropic and desperate for company and oh, so obsessively introspective about virtually every moment I’m on stage. I worry about my voice, my patter, my timing, whether anyone’s listening – I love it, but it’s nerve-wracking. And I can tell you this, my fellow sausage-makers – but the audience really doesn’t care.

So I promised my loyal readers that I’d stop. No more Low Notes about how sausage is made. But I still need that outlet. So welcome to Inside Baseball.