Jaco Pastorius

I woke up with my mind on how I used to be a Jaco imitator in 1989. I always did a lot of alcohol, but not enough to impair myself. My favorite axe was a pewter Jazz Bass Special crafted in Japan. I put more mileage on that bass than on any other. The reason I idolized Jaco was probably his bipolar disorder, though at the time no one in Eugene seemed to know much about that. Years later I read his biography where his diagnosis was documented, along with his addictions to alcohol and cocaine. The music community is still a little unenlightened regarding bipolar, and if anything, they eschew the mentally ill rather than help us out. It’s unfortunate because musical talent and mental illness sometimes coincide. But I wouldn’t trade my circumstances today with those before Vraylar. I was too unstable. Speaking of medication, Dominic told me that many participants refuse it out of suspicion and fear of side effects. My gut reaction to this was to say how silly it was. But the law goes that they cannot be forced to take meds, and that sounds right. At the same time, however, they do themselves a disservice not to be medicated… Jaco was a great musician. The best compliment I ever read paid him was by Sting’s bassist about thirty years ago. She said, “Jaco was a musician who happened to play bass” as opposed to a mere bass player.

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