The election has taken its toll on me. I look at people differently. Maybe this simple question will realign how I look at the world.
I’m pretty lucky to have had a life of being an entertainer. My job is to make you happy. I’m in the smile business. I’ve always given 100% when it comes to me giving you your money’s worth. I didn’t hit it on the head every time but I sure as hell came into the game with that on my mind.
I picked up my guitar and played it and winked and smiled. I slapped hands, snuck people backstage, told stories, and wrote songs. I juggled; I did magic tricks (I’m a fairly good magician in case you didn’t know) I did it even when there was a party I wanted to go to, or my depression had kept me in bed until I left for the shows. Hiding anxiety and sadness many times so that I wouldn’t let down my band mates or my audience. Some days I hid it better than others, but those are stories for another time.
So let’s think about this. What were the best moments I have known….
My first kiss. I won’t embarrass the young lady that gave it to me. As they said in Stephen King’s “Hearts in Atlantis”; It is the kiss that all other kisses will be measured by.
I was at the Cumberland Co Fair when a girl I knew asked if I wanted to go uptown with her other two friends. I said ‘Sure!” Having a crush on the gal superseded the “Don’t leave the Fairgrounds” instructions that had been laid down by Ma.
We hopped in the back seat and somewhere along that ride she laid a kiss on me that curled my toes. I was so scared. I didn’t give her a feel up or anything, just kept kissing. I was IN LOVE! I couldn’t sleep for three days. I wasn’t hungry for a week. It was the last kiss I ever got from her. I’m not sure why? Like it matters. It was perfect for a few minutes.
For my birthday my Mom bought me a boom box. I was about 13-14 probably and was obsessed with music. I listened to the radio constantly. The radio tuner quit working after a few months.
My Dad wasn’t around much and when he finally came home I asked him to fix it. He’s a handy guy. Got it to working in about ten minutes. About a week later it quit dialing again. No telling when the Old Man was going to show back up at home.
Ma got the screwdriver out and took the boom box apart. She fixed it.
I guess it was at that moment I realized we were going to be okay without my Dad around. Mom and Michelle and I were going to be OK because we didn’t have to wait around for the old man to reappear when he decided to. Fuck him. The three of us were a pretty good group of people. Better than the barflies and whores my dad spent most of his time with. We didn’t have much but we never felt unloved. Mom made sure of that and I know sacrificed a lot for us and still does to this day.
I played a lot of gigs in my day. Some with huge arena crowds and some to the bar staff. The ones that stand out were the ones that happened when I was coming up.
My first band Bootleg, were playing a little knife and gun club outside of Greenup, IL called El Patio. I had found two huge bags full of these hollow plastic balls with faces on them. They were like a whiffle ball in size and weight. They were called “Ugly Balls”
Bootleg is pumping out tunes like “All right Now” and “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” while dodging Ugly Balls that were being tossed full speed across the bar. I was playing with my best friends Rod, Doug, Bugsy and George to about 50 people who were having a ball. It was the first time I found out I could make OTHERS happy with my limited knowledge of the guitar.
I have always believed that every night the best band in the world is playing their best show ever. The band changes from night to night. I’m happy to say I feel like I have played in the best band in the world a few nights.
My first big indoor show was opening for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in Mattoon, IL. Sold out show and my R&B band Dr Wu was opening the show. That band had a great set that we had honed to a razor’s edge. Pat the sax player always said, “Give this band 45 minutes and we could take on anyone.”
Right before we were about to go up the ramp to the stage, Doug Evan’s, my best bud from High School and band mate shook my hand. We started playing together knowing two songs. “Wipe Out” and “Paranoid” All that work was paying off with high paying gigs all over the country and then some. Doug’s handshake that night was different. An epiphany that we had surpassed our dreams. The next 45 minutes we tore the stage up with swinging horns, great tunes, pounding drums and classic R&B music blasting out as only a clueless all white rock band could. A standing ovation for the open band.
I met a gal in San Francisco. We saw a jazz concert featuring Esperanza Spalding. I could have sworn once those lights went down, Esperanza played just for the two of us. Lisa agreed. Amazing feeling.
My main girl Susan came over for my birthday a couple of years ago and made lunch and spent the day just talking stupid stuff. Meeting Susan was one of the best days of my life.
A buddy sat in on bass one night at a show in Greenup. I asked a girl to dance. It was the closest dance I ever had. Silently two people held on for dear life as we danced to Van Morrison’s ‘Into the Mystic’
Hands down though, the best day I ever had in my life was the day my girlfriend and future wife, Shannon told me she loved me. She was painfully shy and quiet and the nerve it had to take to say those words had to be one of the toughest things she ever had to say. It was returned in spades.
I will always love her even though we aren’t together anymore. Shannon is one of the greatest women on the entire planet. I miss her sometimes at unexpected moments. She loved me without condition. I screwed it up and a lot of self loathing comes along with it. If I had only not been so scared to get help with my depression instead of running from it till it was too late. She’s living a better life than I could have ever given her. She’s remarried to a good man, she has adopted two babies and I have no doubt those kids won the lottery when they came home with Shannon. A mom who knows nothing but love.
I have love for all my friends, some helped me get up when I was broken down I treasure them for it. I do have the best friends.
So there it is.
Tell me about your best day and let’s forget about hating each other for a minute just to relate a story. I’ll protest tomorrow. Today is all about us. We are all on the same side of the fence when it comes to the best day ever.
Below the video is a link my last album. It’s your’s for the taking. I hope you enjoy it.