I don’t know what possessed me to think of this old blog post, but I thought about it, searched for it, found it, read it, and it’s still relevant. More new stuff later.
May 14, 2008
So, I’m on my way to Asbury Park NJ about a week ago. The previous days’ rain storms have passed, it’s sunny outside, and I’m reflecting on where I am in my life. A 3 hour trip to from New Haven CT to Asbury Park NJ may be a hassle to some, while others may see playing a show in another state as a really cool thing. I fall somewhere in the middle. I’m ecstatic to be proactive with my music, which often requires me to trek from town to town, often far from the comfort of my familiar surroundings. I know that many people don’t have that opportunity. On the flip side, the cost of gas is well, you know, outrageous. Traveling/touring almost always incurs a monetary loss. And if I’m playing a free show and I don’t sell CDs, it gets expensive.
So I have these two diametrically opposite feelings to contend with… luck and loss… on levels that aren’t even mentioned above. I’m pacing back & forth, over & over again in my head. Meanwhile, the drive is simply fulfilling the luck… or the loss.
I’m driving over the Tappan Zee, crossing into New Jersey and what comes on the radio?
“The screen door slams
Mary’s dress sways
Like a vision she dances across the porch
As the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely
Hey thats me and I want you only
Don’t turn me home again
I just cant face myself alone again”
And I am alone on I-87, but Bruce is on the radio keeping my company. A pioneer, perhaps, of the Asbury Park music scene, his song is on the radio and I think to myself “It’s going to be a good day on the Jersey Shore.”
And I can’t stop. I can’t ever stop. Music is my Mary. She is dancing in front of me, appealing to me… teasing me… I am always working for her, wanting to be closer to her. If were to stop, I wouldn’t be able to face myself. Through all the “what ifs,” “are you ever going to settle downs,” “you’re not making any money, why are you doing this,” and other indications of disapproval, I can’t stop staring at her… desiring her. She gives me purpose.
I continue driving. Bruce made 3 albums on a major label before he had any “big” success. He kept driving too.
I arrive at my destination. Guitar in hand, the weight of cables, a microphone, a notebook, pens and other items in my bag weighing on my back, I walk into the cafe with the hope of affecting somebody with my art today. It’s completely egocentric. I yearn for approval. I’m kind of a shy person, and music is my initiation to conversation. I set up my things, and begin to play.
It’s a far cry from a sold-out show, as there are only 4 people in the cafe on this particular Saturday afternoon. It’s too late for lunch and too early for dinner, and to “middle of the day” for coffee I guess. But I meet the approval of the folks there, including the guys that are playing after me. It relieves the tension of performing in front of a small audience.
I hang out for a while, listening to the sounds of Sean Cox. He’s got some great songs, and we share the same work ethic. That is, to travel far from home for a chance of sharing our art for 30 minutes is completely worth it.
I’m driving back home, surrounded by some tranquil spots on the Garden State Parkway. Once again, I’m alone with my thoughts, wondering if what I just did will have any impact on my career. I think in some way it will, even if I can’t see it now.
This whole trip is indeed, a Thunder Road.
“Well I got this guitar
And I learned how to make it talk
And my cars out back
If you’re ready to take that long walk
From your front porch to my front seat
The doors open but the ride it ain’t free”
So come with me Mary… Music… I’m ready to go, even if the journey isn’t free. It’s already cost me more than money… friends, relationships, family… But I still have to do it.
“On the wind, so Mary climb in
It’s a town full of losers
And Im pulling out of here to win.”
And that’s a big reason why I have to do what I do. I grew up in a town that was reclusive and yielded to the safeties of the status quo. I never wanted a part of that. I’ve always wanted to be something bigger than where I came from. In some ways, I feel I’ve succeeded because I left. But I still feel like I’m in the process of leaving.
Still driving on the Garden State Parkway, almost at the I-87 exit. And you won’t believe what comes onto the radio again: “Thunder Road.”
And I’m still driving…