By Simon Norris
Photos by Dusti Cunningham
Tom Goss’ ninth studio album, Remember What It Feels Like, is a 15-track collection of fast, fun, summery pop songs punctuated by beautiful ballads and raucous rock. In it, he reflects on the up and downs of the life he has lived, including his loves and losses. “The truth is, most things in life happen for no reason at all, and are completely out of our control,” Goss says. “There are sweet times and sad, highs and lows. I’ve learned to embrace them all because they’ve all shaped me into who I am today.”
Along with the album, Goss is debuting the single and music video for “Enemy of Good,” his song about his lifelong need to be perfect. “I’ve always been very self-critical. Even as a kid, my mother would say, ‘Tom, the perfect is the enemy of the good.’ And she’s right. My need to achieve perfection has done little in the way of producing happiness. I have noticed that joy and creativity flow when I allow myself to be flawed.”
We spoke with Tom from his home in Los Angeles.
In Remember What It Feels Like, you look back on your forty-two years. Is it true that forty is the new thirty?
I have no idea. My body definitely doesn’t feel like it’s in its thirties. I’m really starting to feel the wear. But, nevertheless, I still laugh like I’m thirty, dream like I’m twenty, and I’m more comfortable in my own skin than I’ve ever been.
What are some of the biggest life events that have shaped you into the man you are today?
Growing up as an athlete and mid-westerner shaped how I approach life and my intense work ethic. I am at the gym right now! Also, my parents bitter divorce, contrasted with falling in love and getting married, shaped and reshaped how I see love and connection.
In your last album, you explored your experience with infidelity and the opening up of your marriage.
Yes, infidelity sucks. Falling in love with my husband saved my life. It opened me up in ways I never dreamed. Then, it hurt in ways I never imagined. That’s not to say the love’s not there, it is. It’s just there’s also some pokey bits swirling around in the deepest of places. Forgiveness, I’ve learned, is beautiful. We ended up opening our marriage, which has been hard, but learning how to expand my idea of what love can be is freeing.
In this album, you reveal that you fell in love with someone else… who turned out to be a con man.
Oh, where do I begin? Falling in love a second time helped keep me open. It showed me a beautiful new way of life and taught me about my capacity to love more freely. But when I learned he was a con man leading a secret life, well, that changed everything. Falling in love with someone who turns out to be a con man is hard to explain. It’s like looking back at old photos and they’re all blank. You will never know what was real and what wasn’t. Everything and nothing is real.
Are you still in touch with the creep?
He’s in prison now, and I haven’t spoken with him in a year and a half. Nevertheless, sometimes I grab the mail and there’s a letter from prison in it. It’s very strange. I don’t open the letters. I don’t throw them away, either. They just sit there. It doesn’t seem real.
Has he apologized?
Sure, he’s apologized. But what does that even mean? Apologizing for a lie doesn’t really do anything if there is no framework for the apology to exist in.
Did you learn anything about yourself through the experience?
I’m still here, still thriving and smiling. That’s resilience and that’s something, I suppose. I’m in the process of falling in love with myself. Being my own savior. Loving me in a way that doesn’t need love from some else, but welcomes it, cherishes and embraces it. I sound hardened, but I’m not, really. The caveat is “need” verses “want.” I want love. I am in love. I want to give it and receive it fully and completely, but I don’t need it. I can be secure in who I am, and love myself unconditionally, without external help. Ultimately that’s life. We’re here, might as well make the best of it.
Based off of your new single, “Enemy of Good,” it sounds like achieving perfection is no longer the goal for you. Is that true?
Heck no! I still want perfection. Nevertheless, I’m embracing the moment as it is, and loving the flow of energy and art that comes through me.
What is the biggest life lesson you can share with your younger gay brethren?
Be who you are. You don’t have to assimilate to heteronormative society if you don’t want to. You also don’t have to assimilate to homonormative society if you don’t want to. Wait, is homonormative a word? In any event, don’t question the things that make you smile, laugh, and bring happiness into your world. Be a dork. Be a nerd. Be uncool. Most importantly, be joyful. If you do that, the rest is irrelevant.
Final thoughts on love?
Do it. Any opportunity you get. The risk is always worth it.