I want to try and document something here. It’s really for my own eyes and brain, but if someone else gets something out of it as well… then great.
Before I tell you where I’m going, I suppose I should tell you where I came from. I grew up in a small-ish town on the Indiana/Kentucky border right where the Ohio River makes a curly bend. It was a extremely conservative religious community, at least that was my experience. I suppose someone could have had a different experience, but this was the 80s and early 90s and there wasn’t much to do in pre-internet small town America. So I went to church.
It was an attractive place for a kid with creative leanings. There was an audience. A stage with microphones. You could get up every single week and perform a thing as long as you did it for Jesus. And so I did. Or so I thought I did.
It was a decent incubator. I wrote songs. Played them in front of an attentive crowd. Began to dream. (for Jesus, of course)
I was instilled with a delusional sense of purpose. If you are doing something for a god, it better damn well be something giant. My formative years were filled with voices telling me god had given me talents that were meant for the masses (in a “for Jesus” way.)
It all got complicated when I wrapped up my senior year of high school with a spectacular teen pregnancy- abortion- coming-out-of-the-closet scandal ( I know it doesn’t make sense but that’s what happened. It’s a much longer story maybe I’ll tell another time.)
I fled to a liberal arts college and landed softly in the liberal arms of the Musical Theatre department. That move probably saved my life. But it also furthered the delusion: I was bound for stardom. As you can imagine, a college theatre department is a fishbowl of ego. Talented yet spoiled kids (like myself) enter a tiny world led by frustrated former talented yet spoiled kids turned adult. Auditions and lead roles and non-stop gossip about who has what it takes to “make it”
I should pause and say I’m terribly embarrassed about all this. The world is burning. Fascism is descending upon America. Gay men are thrown from rooftops in Syria and Mexican children are sitting in chain link cages with mylar blankets. I’m currently sitting in an air-conditioned Starbucks sipping on a venti iced soy latte contemplating the failed dreams of my youth and if I’m going to turn a mid-life crisis into another attempt at launching a music career. It’s fucking stupid.
What is a dream? For the last few years it’s a word I’ve been kind of annoyed by. It’s a word you paint on a little girl’s bedroom wall to make her feel like a special princess. I’ve wondered a lot if we’d be better off without instilling this into our children. “Hey kids, how ’bout just be content and at peace with yourself? Be thankful you were randomly born into some level of privilege, you aren’t starving, and shut the fuck up?”
I do feel that way in some sort of overly simplified manner. But, as I move through the years, it all feels more nuanced.
When I finished college (6.5 years, shut up) around the turn of the century I moved to Nashville to conquer the dream. My band and I rented a dilapidated house on the wrong side of the tracks (back then. this neighborhood is now a gentrified playground for rich white people… as is most of Nashville today.) and got to work. We were really doing it. A buzz was quickly building around us. the Nashville Scene gave us an award for our 2003 album and printed full color full page photos of our handsome faces. Tan men from LA started to fly out to watch us play semi-full houses at the Exit/IN.
It totally seemed like it was happening. Until it didn’t. The drummer of that band and I often rehash what went wrong. I still don’t really know. We had all the “right” ingredients. We were doing all the “right” things. There was the unforeseeable force of the internet and MP3s changing everything under our feet that certainly played a role. I don’t know. It didn’t happen.
To make the story even a little more painful, everyone else around us got famous. We signed with a hot shot entertainment attorney who had just signed a couple other acts. Those other acts? Paramour and Kings of Leon. My roommate was dating a new country music hopeful… a recent young transplant from Texas… Kacey Musgraves.
I started questioning everything I’d ever done and hoped for in my life. I was then in my early 30s, and it felt like my greatest fear… that I would be come a middle aged broke loser… was becoming more of a possibility.
This story is getting too long.
I spent the next decade on a whacky adventure. On a whackier adventure. I took a job on a cruise ship and traveled the world. I moved to Los Angeles for a year to perform stand up comedy. I wrote a musical. I wrote a few one-man shows and toured them all over the country.
I’ve unexpectedly lived a really cool life filled with a lot of creativity. It wasn’t the thing I thought I was after when I was a kid, though. That’s ok. That’s how it goes for most I think.
I turn 45 in November. I feel quite settled and centered. I’m engaged to the kindest man I’ve ever known. We have 3 adorable cats in a quiet neighborhood on the far west side of Nashville. I really love my life.
I’m still constantly experimenting with creative ideas. This past year I wrote and produced a feature film that I just submitted for film festivals in 2019. We will see where all that goes.
By “see where all that goes” I don’t mean it in some sort of delusional “reach for the stars” way. Not in a way that I would have done 20 years ago when I was a much different man.
I’m also working on a new set of songs and thinking about getting back out in Nashville. Yes, in an attempt to take another stab at a music career… but no… not in the manner the child version of me would have. In the way the 45 year old version of me would…. will… All this to say, today I am an artist. With a lifetime of experience. I really love creating. Films. Stories. Songs. I’d like to find a way to put it all out into the world.
that’s what these blog entries are about. working out some thoughts. Maybe you relate? Maybe you had a dream. Maybe you’re still chasing it. Maybe you let it all go. Maybe you are thinking about picking it up again. maybe you are sitting in a Starbucks slurping on a iced soy latte.