Since 2004 JRL has been a big part of my life and identity. I even have nice business cards and look professional.
I've started a lot of bands and gone by a lot of names since I started writing music in the late 80s. JRL is the closest I've ever come to using my own name. Even though it isn't the name I was born with.
Closure is important. Part of me wants to keep every band I ever started as a possibility in my head, but life gets cluttered when you don't let go. You've got to let go of a million possibilities so that a few of them can become actualities. Getting married was hard because it meant narrowing infinite possibilities to one. The result of that narrowing has been a deepening and growth that I could never achieve while keeping my options open.
To put it another way, I've got commitment issues. Where I've overcome them amazing things happen. Where I don't, I'm always starting over.
So is this the end of JRL? If so why?
Not quite. I've got one more record to finish. I think it may end up being my favorite JRL record. I'm also dreaming about doing a "final concert" and trying to get a bunch of the great players together who have been part of JRL over the years. I'm not sure if this will happen or not. If you like the idea let me know.
And after that?
I'll quit booking JRL shows and stop promoting JRL.
I'll write songs, all kinds of songs, without giving a lot of thought to where they will fit or who will listen to them. Some people who have been listening will keep listening. Others won't. New people may tune in. Musicians may discover the songs and want to cover them. I am moving into a season of creativity and freedom.
It's sad though, to be moving on. The songs may be reborn, but JRL is drawing to a close. I think this song, which I wrote recently remembering my high school years (where in many ways music and love began), fits where I am as I contemplate the end of JRL... I hope you like it and can feel a little of what I feel, perhaps thinking about that time of your life and/or an ending or beginning that means something to you right now.
They Can't Tell You
City Song: Kidron (Millsbg) OH, high school
Copyright 5-7-08 Jonathan Reuel
Those days when music ignited
Every cell and muscle
Those nights when truth was a puzzle
Not everybody wrestled
They can't tell you how to find yourself
They can't force you into inspiration
They can't give you anybody else besides
Besides who you wrestle to believe in
Those hours under glaring lights
In the van holding hands in silence
That moment when I realized
I was still an island
Those days when I first hear God
Like the prophets promised
I never suspected what I didn't know but
Everybody's like that because
Those days when I turned away and set out on this journey
But I am who I am today because of what they gave me
(Audio for this song will be posted soon.)