Here I am in St. Paul having just driven in from Green Bay. Nice ride actually… yeah, it’s winter up here but that’s OK. At least it’s not muddy yet. Anyway, my lovely wife, Vanessa, called me when I was on the bus on the ride up here. ‘Are you OK?’ she asked. ‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘Why?’ ‘Well,’ she continued, ‘I was just reading your blog and I thought it seemed a little extreme.’ I thought for a moment. ‘Actually, I didn’t think it was extreme at all.’ I continued. ‘LIke everyone else, I have my flashpoints of recollection too.’ I wasn’t being critical of my online friends’ predilections… I was just pointing out that mine were different.’ She was quiet for a moment. ‘Do you know what I heard when I read that?’ she asked me. I waited. She continued. “I hear that you’re ready to come home.’
Was she ever right. I have now been out for over five weeks and I am ready to come home. By the time the bus pulls into the parking lot at the Fur Peace Ranch on Sunday we will have driven a little over fifteen thousand miles. While I’ve been gone my daughter has grown noticeably… she is more mature… more of a big kid. ‘Ive got plans for you Daddy,’ she proclaims. ‘You’re going to be spending a lot of time with me.’ I look forward to it sweetheart… I look forward to it.
Now my Father was in government service and from WWII on, he was gone much of the time. Sometimes we traveled with him, sometimes not. I am often asked, ‘How do you keep doing this? It must be tough being on the road so much of the time.’ Sometimes if I know the person well enough I will say, ‘It must be tough for you to keep going to the same office every day. How do you do it?’ The answer for both of us is that it’s just what we do. Of course being on the road is how I support myself and my family. I don’t get paid for staying home and self employed people never have days off. A day off is a day of unemployment. Another interesting factor is that aside from paying bills and the like, if I want my playing to be maintained at a standard commensurate with my expectations, I need to work. Practice doesn’t do it for me and the skill disappears far more quickly than it comes.
Those of us in the performing business are always trying to up our game in some way. Some nights are better than others from our point of view. When some loving soul on the road asks me if I remember that gig at the Capitol Theater in Passaic, New Jersey back in 1972, the answer will probably be ‘No!’ if I’m being honest. I have played many gigs since I started playing them in the late Fifties, and although some are memorable, after a while they just sink into the sea of experience. Of course there is another reality for me as well… Being a musician and an entertainer is what I do, but it does not define who am, and that is as it should be. When I’m on the road… it’s all about the mission. If I’m in my studio at home preparing for a project, it’s about that. When I walk into the yard and close the door to the shop, it’s about home and that is as it should be.
I’m the luckiest guy in the world. I’ve been able to support myself and my family all my life doing exactly what I love to do. It truly gets no better than that. Well, actually, there’s more. You folks who show interest in what it is that I do are the frosting on the cake. You have always allowed my friends and I to do pretty much exactly what we want to do… to go where we need to go. Sometimes we are more successful that others… but we are always, always honest and true to our art. You all have allowed and indeed encouraged this and on behalf of my pals, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
Wow, what a tome this turned out to. Yeah, I’m ready to go home for a while. Taking out the trash is going to look pretty darned good. Of course, after a bit I’ll be looking forward to heading out on the road again and giving my girls a little peace. Yeah.
This piece was a lot more fun to write then the little addenda I wrote after the Christmas holidays taking the woman to task who was upset that I abbreviated Christmas to Xmas. Wow… first things first!
Thanks you guys out there. You’re the best!