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Where you been, Cuban Cowboy?

Where you been, Cuban Cowboy?

November 12, 2013

I’ve been nowhere and Everywhere.  “Nowhere” speaks to the fact that TCC’s only played two shows this year. It also refers to our relative radio silence over the past two years. No new albums, no email blasts, no press, etc. Joo get the picture. We released our last album in 2010, toured a bit, got featured on NPR, then poof. Nowhere.

“Everywhere” speaks as much to where I’ve been (Spain, Morocco, Cuba, Mexico) as it does to the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual ‘places’ experience has brought me to since last we spoke. “Everywhere” refers to the fact that life happens. For an artist, life's happening impacts art-making by influencing the emergence, kinds and intensity of inspiration that make the art possible to begin with. 

Art springs from life. Moreover, and with apologies to John Dewey for my clumsiness herein, experience can itself be art. Expressions like “live an artful life,” and “living artfully” come to mind. They convey a sort of grace upon everyday life, elevating it from the ordinary and toward some higher form or purpose. Put in a deeper or more rigorous way, the work of philosophers like Dewey and William James (you should check that shit out, yo.) argue that the lines between Science, Art and Experience are blurry and arbitrary. What I’m getting at here is that by saying I’ve been “Everywhere,” I am saying that in the experiences of the last three years, I have found, lived and produced more than any album or gigs could allow me to. So there.

Truth is, despite the four hats in the picture, despite the website address, and, of course, the band name, The Cuban Cowboys is really just me, just another Jorge Navarro. There are thousands of Jorge Navarro’s on Facebook. Thousands more throughout the world. There’s a Jorge Navarro Flamenco dance instructor. There’s even a Jorge Navarro jazz pianist from Mexico. But this Jorge Navarro, the one who fronts the band whose website you’re on, he got worn down. This Jorge Navarro lost his way. He got stuck in a soul-sucking day-job, trying to support his kids as a single dad living in a very expensive city. He gained weight. He got dumped by his wife. The Cuban Cowboy realized that there would be no limousine, no record deal to support a rock and roll lifestyle or fantasy. He got tired — after 25 years of writing songs, lugging amps, playing gigs, putting up flyers, dreaming, drinking and drugging about things having nothing to do with art or music itself, booking shows, being a record label, getting screwed by record labels, and performing his ass off on stages large and small all over country — he felt cooked. It should be noted that there are at least three other truths at work here as well: I made my choices, I was and am responsible for my behavior, and, in a bigger sense, it’s not as if there weren’t any beautiful or joyful moments in the time I’ve been away. Simply: It was time to reassess, recover, and heal. 

And now, it is time to reinvent.

I need to go further. I need to diminish the distinctions between my life as a so-called artist, the Cuban Cowboy, and my life outside the songs, the band, the hats, boots and bullshit every musician struggles with. I want to blur the lines for you as much as for myself. I’m a single father, an educator, a writer, a business executive (OK, for a non-profit, but still..I wear suits and work deals on behalf of kids and teachers). I’m a human being, and the band is me. 

Let me show you. I will take you Everywhere. 


Tags: Cuban Cowboy, Jorge Navarro, John Dewey, William James, Art as Experience

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