JEFF SHATTUCK MUSIC

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• What I've learned: drinking and songwriting.

I can't deny it. I won't. I like booze, especially wine.

I used to like booze a lot more before my accident, but since hitting my head and driving a bit of bone into my cerebellum, I'm less predilected to libations. Something changed in my taste center. Still, through hard work and dedication, I have gone from not being able to even stand the smell of alcohol right after my injury, to once again liking most forms of drink.

Weird thing is, though, I don't love anything the way I used to. There was a time when I would spend upwards of $150 a bottle on scotch, and wine that cost less than $30 merited only suspician. Now, all scotch tastes fine, and, save for the fruit forward, high alcohol wines so loved and promoted by Robert Parker and the Wine Spectator, the grape is, you know, nice.

And overall, I think this is a positive development as far as my songwriting goes. Because I have never written anything better than drivel when drunk. Oh, while writing said drivel, I thought it was amazing. So tragic, poignant, unique. Right. Come morning, it was invariably crap.

Further, I do not have Keith Richard's constitution. Shit, I doubt I even have Rick Warren's (wait, he drinks, doesn't he, the whole wine-into-blood thing, yes?). Regardless, the point is, after about a half bottle of wine, or a few shots or one martini, I'm done, unless I want to spend the night writhing in agony, because of a headache, and the next day moving no faster than taxidermied banana slug.

And it's sad, because, damn, I romanticize the booze thing like you can't believe. I love my photos of Keith with his bottle, my recordings of Tom Waits slurring out pure genius, my Hemingway books in which Papa gets hammered on the good and cool wine left in the urn by the door of the dry, stone ruin where shelter from the stray bullets was at least better than in the field of low trees.

And my favorite album name of all time is a Stones boot called Whores, Cocaine and a Bottle of Jack.

Still, I have to face reality. If I want to write a good song, a glass or two of wine might be nice, but that's it. Then I switch to fizzy water, or coffee, or even -- and this is truly un rock-and-roll -- Coke Zero.

Cheers.

Sigh.