I woke up on a bench in the van at three in the morning. We'd arrived at the hotel, Skip said, and I had to check in. I knew I had been completely asleep because my eyes were dry and my voice was gone. After arguing with the kind folks at Hotwire and Super 8, we were told that if we wanted to upgrade our two rooms with king-sized beds to two rooms with two queens each we would have to pay $67. Per room. Because we're being frugal, Dutty had to sleep on couch pillows on the floor, and because Robbie was already asleep in the van the other four of us got to split the two available king-sized beds. It was already 3:30am, and we had to be showered and ready to leave by 10am to make the Lafayette show in time.
Still, I lay awake, lyrics and melodies become rhythms, which become albums, which become shows and tours. My mind wanders. Occasionally I grab my iPhone and thumb lyrics into it. I can't rest. These lyrics are folk. They are story telling, and I like a good story. Songs that carry me through scenes and perspectives give me a sense of comfort. I think when you can capture a moment you can capture history, and when a song becomes a part of history it becomes timeless. Like John Lennon's Happy Christmas (War is Over), or Bloody Sunday by U2, or any number of Dylan songs. There are countless hit songs, timeless ones, that depict specific events. I generally like these.
There are a few reasons for these songs in my head, I think. Last week my granny (mom's mom) died. She was a pretty frequent visitor in my childhood, and although I hadn't seen her in over ten years death is always a rude awakening, an awful reminder that we all are mortal and soon will pass. I've had a handful of folks close to me die, and a song is usually always born in their memory. In this case there is nothing specific in any of these songs to indicate that they are about Granny. I didn't really know her throughout my adult life, and I can hardly say we were close when I was a child (I think I took to Grampa more). Nonetheless, tragedy has always seemed to inspire me. I create, I think it's how I tend to mourn.
The second reason for my sleepless, song-ridden night is that last nights show in Plano gave all of our spirits a lift. We've been on this tour a few weeks, and the last week was especially tough. The shows were poorly promoted, small and disorganized. Our performances suffered as we struggled to find our rhythm and shake the rust off. We even had to cancel one show because a promoter went completely AWOL, so when we got to Plano we were all secretly praying, "Oh please God, let this show not completely suck." We needed redemption, and we got it. It was by far the hottest, most energetic show of the tour as over 250 bodies packed into The Door's cozy room and moved with us to the music. I remember looking around on stage at the other guys, on the verge of suffocating from lack of air and heat exhaustion, and thinking, "Man, this is why we do this. This is so fun."
We all needed that shot in the arm. As musicians, we are innately insecure. A string of four bad shows can bring the even biggest band to its knees. We start asking, "Do people even care? Are we as good as we thought we were? As we once were?" We even go as far as to ask, "Have we reached our apex? Is this the twilight of our career? Should we all go home and get "real" jobs?"
When 250+ people show up and shout your lyrics so loud you can't hear your monitor, all those questions disappear.