Dear Mr. Difford: You have had a tremendous influence on my life, although the only contact I ever had with you was shaking your hand on the street as my friends and I waited first in line outside the theatre in New York. It was late afternoon, you and Glenn exited your car and stopped to talk to someone and I inserted myself and said simply thank you. It was your first show as a duo, I believe. You played Band of Gold in addition to your own songs. It was great. I saw you during the Pop 82 concert where your played with Split Enz in Philadelphia. Duran Duran opened. One World (or Third World), and Bush Tetras were the other acts. I went with my high school girlfriend. I saw two punks with studs and mohawks making out; the girl had hairy armpits; the guy has a Dead Kennedys Tshirt touting their album Too Drunk to Fuck. For someone of my sheltered life at that time, it was fantastic. My two favorite bands were playing that night, and my whole life was ahead of me.
I began writing to some degree because of your word play, and although it never amounted to much, I am grateful. There are certain scenes on life which run in my head like a film. I have retired as a prosecuting attorney. I would write my closing arguments trying to paints pictures in the heads of the juries, and while I did not do this conciously as a result of your work, this did lay a foundation for much of how I used words throughout my career. I can remember the first time I ever heard Tempted while on a family vacation, listening to a little handheld radio on some remote station in the Catskill Mountains; I can also recall crossing the Ben Franklin bridge in my car with college roommate as In Quintessence played and he commented on a lyric being a good line. Like it was yesterday. I remember being in a subway in Tokyo listening to probably another song off East Side Story, and realizing the dual meaning more or less/moral less could have. I don’t know or care if it was your intention; it meant something to me. That’s art. Your art.
I have a great life and family. You were a significant part of my development, and reading of your personal laments makes me realize all the more how gifted you are. Your words and music can be pop, rock, maudlin, country and so many other things, but they are always observant, and ultimately always respectful of the subject. I can remember realizing how details were important and should be noticed by listening to “she smells like the cats and the neighbors she sickens.” You cannot bring a point home much more than that, and while it is not a pretty depiction, you still instill your character with a sense of grace -in my view anyway.
I don’t mean to ramble, and at my age, 48, I hope you can imagine the effort involved in writing a fan letter. (My second ever -the first I wrote to the author of “The Ice Harvest” after I had finished his third book bc I admired his sequencing and, again, word usage and phrasing. He replied, in some detail, about his plans for the next book. That was maybe eight years ago. He has never again published, and his website remains as it was at that time. I hope not to have a similar impact on you.)
I finally saw Pete Townshend/The Who a few years back on their American concert tour; they were good enough to swing by Grand Rapids, Michigan so it was not a haul to go see them. The songs I buy anymore are those I learn of through listening to my shuffle on Pandora, but it is not much. I buy everything you produce and anything associated with Neil Finn, but that’s about it. I cannot imagine every wanting to spend money on concert tickets again unless either you or Mr. Finn should come to Michigan, or I can learn of a tour that hits Chicago, before it actually happens.
You have given me a great deal, and I am a better person as a result of your art. I thank you for it. I hope you realize there are many people like me who have never made the effort to extend their appreciation to you, but occasionally wish you well in your private life as they listen to your new stuff or relive the memories you have afforded them over your years of service. As boring as it may sound, I look forward to mowing my lawn every week because I get to listen to my ipod and be whatever age the songs say I am. I wish you every happiness, and good grace in your many days and years to come.
reading this email tells me everything i need to know, its all been worth while and the journey will always continue in some form or another….i really am a very lucky man. Thank you for being there.