No, the Girl on the Album Cover Is Not My Girlfriend (Even Though I’d Be Lucky If She Was)

Cover

It’s been about a year since the release of my second record, which is a little depressing because it means that I should probably start thinking about putting out something new sometime soon, and though I’ve got some things in the works, it may be a little longer than I had hoped until my next release. But that’s not the issue I want to address this evening.

In the past couple of years there have been a lot of changes in my personal life, and I’ve written a little bit about them. I don’t plan on telling you all of them because, well, they’re personal. However, I do want to address some of the questions and comments concerning my album cover, and for better or worse, personal is bound to come up at least a little bit. Don’t worry. I’m not going to drag you through any lady drama.

When I first released my record, I was happy to find that many of my close friends, mentors, and family members were so anxious to support me, and it gave me an excuse to get in touch with some people with whom I hadn’t spoken in quite some time. As I handed out albums, people became interested in the music, and more importantly the album cover, and some of them wanted to meet up with me again after they’d had time to “digest.” One of the most important conversations was with my friend M.

M has been a mentor to me for at least six years now. He is just old enough that he could have fathered me at a young but reasonable age, and a he is a respected member of the Moscow community. Those of you who live in Moscow have probably seen him walking to and from the downtown area via Third Street in his suit and tie on the weekdays, or maybe biking around in the evenings and on the weekends in an oversized yellow or neon t-shirt with one of his two dogs in tow. Anyone who knows M would tell you that he has an overwhelmingly positive disposition, which in most cases would make a person seem superficial, but he somehow manages to put off an air of authenticity, and it makes his positivity…well…positively contagious. As cynical as I can be, this man has somehow managed to become one of my closest friends. There are some mysteries that will never be solved.

So, to return to the story, I met with M at some point, possibly to discuss the album, or maybe we just ran into each other, I can’t remember which, but the subject of the music came up, and M told me that when he first saw the cover he thought, “Man, Jeremiah wants a girlfriend so bad.” Now, I love M quite a bit, and I do enjoy having females around because, well, that’s how I’m wired, but when M told me his interpretation of the picture I have to say that beyond feeling pretty embarrassed, I was a little bit disappointed. And he’s not the only one. Coworkers, family members, even the people I’ve worked with at venues have asked me if this girl was my girlfriend, and until now, I’ve just said no and tried to shrug off my disappointment.

Now I could tell you all about Courtney and who she is, but it’s really not that important to the meaning of the picture. All that matters is that she’s a good friend who happens to be a beautiful girl and a wonderful singer. She agreed to pose with me in the picture and do vocals on a couple of tracks. And if you really really really must know, she has a fiance and she lives in California. End of story. I’m not going to tell you what specifically the picture means, but I will tell you that I planned nearly every aspect of that picture from the apple to the location to the framing. I planned it because I thought that it visually communicated the issues that I was trying to address in the record. My decision to leave–might I even go so far as to say divorce?—the church, but to try and do so peaceably after about 15 years of being a Christian was very difficult, and in part, I wrote the album to explain my choice to the people that I care about, and to hopefully give a voice to people who are struggling with similar issues. I also wanted to comment on sexuality because, and here’s where it gets personal, after 15 years of being a “good” celibate Christian boy, it’s really hard to leave the church and figure out sex and relationships all over again. I’m not trying to throw a pity party here, but try being raised as a hippie kid with several female friends only to enter puberty, be transplanted from one end of the country to the other, and be told that suddenly you can’t even touch a girl until you’re married, and then having to reprogram yourself in your mid-twenties. I’ll leave you with those points and let you figure out the rest of the picture’s meaning on your own.

Otherwise, I had one friend accuse me of using my confession of not being a Christian as a “publicity stunt,” which was hurtful, but I get it. In my own defense, I put up the post in April of 2013 and my album came out in November. If it was a publicity stunt, it was poorly timed. After seven months, people tend to forget things like that. Really all I was trying to do with the record was explain myself a little more, and I hope that my music has done that to some extent. Later releases will probably do a better job, although I’m in a very different place now and much more comfortable with myself, so the point of tension or even resolve from which the writing flows will be different. In any case, I’m sorry if I seem to be exploiting my unbelief, but my unbelief is important to me. It’s been a part of me that’s grown over time in spite of two years in Bible college and over a decade of denial.

The final personal critique I’d like to address came up a few years ago before I went public with my beliefs. I was talking with a Christian friend of mine over beers at the Alehouse, our local brewpub. I think it was the spring before the big tour, so that would have been 2012. He was the second or third person I decided to tell about my choice, and when I told him, one of the first things he asked me was if, now that I wasn’t a Christian, I was going to go on tour and have sex with a bunch of girls, and whether or not he meant it, I couldn’t help feeling that by asking he was implying that my reason for leaving the church was so that I could have sex. I can’t deny that sexual desire had an impact on my decision, and if we’re being really honest, sexual desire has an impact on a lot of decisions for most if not all people. Sex is a primal urge. It’s a reflex. Of course it has something to do with decision making. But really my reason for leaving was just that church, religion, spirituality, or whatever you want to call it didn’t make sense to me anymore. I felt like I was a gear in a machine I wasn’t made to be a part of, and the experience was wearing me down. I couldn’t take it anymore, and since I’ve left, it’s been lonely at times, but I’m happier. I’m not going to try and proselytize anyone. All I can do is tell my story as it comes, and that’s what’s important to me.

So thank you all for reading, and thank you all for listening. For those of you who I’ve alienated in the midst of my confusion, I apologize. That was never my intention. As a wise man once said, this shit is hard to figure out. I’m just doing my best. I wish you all love.

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