March 5, 2015

On Existentialism the Musical: a book by Derek Zanetti



I first saw Derek Zanetti performing under his nom de guerre as a singer/songwriter. He calls himself “The Homeless Gospel Choir”. I wasn’t at the show to see his band. He was the second of four bands, and I had left my wife at the rail so I could use the restroom and get a beer because I knew that after the second act, there would be no leaving that spot.

I came back with a full Fosters and confused about where the rest of the Gospel Choir was. There was this guy with a guitar.

But this guy with a guitar was all I needed. He sang these songs that I had never heard before. A couple of his songs made me cry, because he was so earnest and funny and just commanded the stage as he sang his protest songs. He spoke of the book he wrote. This book. He hawked it from the stage and said that his wife would kill him if any remained when he went back to Pittsburgh.

I didn’t want his wife to kill him, so I bought the book. He was at the merch booth and I shook his hand and thanked him for his set. He even signed a copy for me.
So this book isn’t in the guise of “The Homeless Gospel Choir,” instead it drops the façade of the clever name and lets the author just be Derek. In it there are stories that are poems and poems that are stories that cover the mundane every-day world, but Zanetti has a heart that makes the stories sing. I cannot separate my reading of them with my experience in first seeing him and buying his book, but I don’t have to. His art transcends the page and the stage, and those little protest songs won him a fan. I hope he keeps winning them.