The Writer on the Road 

The Pen, the Piano, and Nick Jaina

"I've always tried to find the truth in this world, and, to me, that meant subjecting myself to unappealing situations or things I am afraid of. That is how you learn interesting things."

And with that, a young Nick Jaina set out in the world. As a singer/songwriter—a genre whose very term evokes images of sensitive crooners with delicate sensibilities—Jaina has lived a tattered lifetime of experiences all over the map. He has dug ditches in the Texas sun, worked menial jobs in Cajun country, and traveled this country searching for something more tangible than the spent romanticism of old Kerouac novels. Jaina's life and songs are seduced by reality, legitimate tales of everyday minutia that, when structured right, can lead to such beautiful things.

One of those beautiful things is Wool, the latest release from Jaina. While he has a library of finished recordings—including other solo work and time spent fronting the Binary Dolls—Wool is the moment that Jaina arrives. Simple in structure, the album resists the crutch of whistles, bells, studio trickery, or even volume, for the most part—instead it's just Jaina, his piano, some mild instrumentation, and a whole lot of delicate words, with which he weaves his magnificent songs. "The one thing I do is write. But I love music so much that I try to channel my writing into music," says Jaina.

His gifts with the pen are Jaina's main appeal, as he crafts each song with a stylish, poetic grace that intertwines with his soft, raspy voice. While the end result has its own stunning appeal, the writing itself wears on Jaina. "I really hate writing. I love having written something, and I am proud to be a writer, but the process of writing I hate." He continues, "I think it's what pushed me into music. Sitting in front of a piano is fun, playing music with your friends is thrilling, but sitting in front of a screen and trying to come up with words is hell. When you are done, it feels great. But the process is terrible."

But if the endeavor is draining, Jaina's devotion to researching the truth found him undertaking an excursion that even the bravest of explorers would fear—touring by Greyhound bus. "The idea to tour by Greyhound came out of necessity," says Jaina. "I didn't have a car that I trusted to take for that long of a distance, and even when I considered borrowing a car, the gas was prohibitively expensive. I have a habit of setting up things that I have no idea how I will logistically accomplish, and so the only real option for doing it was by Greyhound."

With an open-ended ticket, Jaina traveled from Sacramento to New Orleans, hopping off along the way to play a series of shows with a borrowed guitar in every city. While Woody Guthrie had his dusty rumbling boxcar, Jaina's method of transportation is bit more intimidating, and far less romantic.

"I met no less than three blind people at different times on the trip from California to New Orleans, and then, the bus had a TV and would you believe they showed the film Ray? Well, they did." He adds, "I thought that someone was giving me a sign that I was blind to something, but I couldn't figure out what it was."

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