here on this troubadour circuit time gets consumed like cheap fuel.
Life is either an orgy of excess or a gauntlet to be run
depending on what time of day we’re talking about. Travel is mostly
chaos and none of it particularly wholesome. And yet it keeps life
road has changed considerably since I first drove the breadth of
America with my band Wire And Wood in 1974. The potholes are deeper,
the beds harder and more expensive, the food more processed. You can
buy bottled water anywhere now, but getting rid of the water after
you’re finished with it? That often requires exploring a surfeit of gas
stations and convenience stores for one that doesn’t say “Rest Rooms
for Customers Only.” I have become a patron out of desperation many
times. In other words I’ve been sold a pot to piss in...but who can
blame the proprietors? They're the ones who must wield the mops and
plungers. We pass lots of folks who just become naturists when nature
calls, discretely maneuvering themselves into position behind car doors
while being buffeted by the 70 mph hurricane force winds of passing
rigs. Not me, I don't enjoy the blowback.
days the truckers are under more pressure to deliver their cargos on
schedule. Trucking accidents are up at a rate so alarming that a
government study has been undertaken to find out why. I can save them a
lot of money. Every year I find it harder to make ends meet out here. I
can only imagine how much the teamsters must push themselves just to
take home a profit. Ask a man to drive a double rig 1200 miles in two
days, work him until he is blurry-eyed and wired on coffee or other
illegal substances and do you think maybe you’ll see a spike in the
accident rate? Study complete.
and sleep come when they do out here. If you have some dietary
restrictions that your doctor ordered (meaning if you are older than
55) you will be abandoning them faster than a convict ditches a hot
getaway car. You stock up on trail mix for those emergency midnight
“meals” after the day’s travel and performance are over. You wake up to
dine on hard boiled eggs and a stale English muffin if you come to the
lobby early enough to find anything except failed waffle projects and
crumbs at the breakfast bar. Did I mention that you have to wake up at
6am after maybe finally falling asleep at 2am in order to get to the
bar while the food is still pliable? The sign out front says “Hot
Breakfast” when they really mean "Warm Yogurt."
bone jarring ride across Ohio on Interstate 80 yesterday gave us very
little time for intelligent conversation. The talk went something like
this: “Pothole…POTHOLE! Wow, this road is a disaster! You could try
getting…Holy hell, we’re driving on the shoulder…what is that orange
barrel doing in the…look out!” At one point we were forced to exit
I-80, take a 20 minute detour and get back onto I-80 about 100 feet
from where we got off. The good news is that the infrastructure is
slowly being fixed. The bad news is that fixing it means breaking it
even worse first.
But never mind all of this. If my
words sound like the griping of a grumpy old goat, well, they are.
Whenever someone tells me I’m lucky to be doing what I love, of course
I’m tempted to say, “I spend 14 hours a day doing things I hate,” but
something stops me. I remember all of the amazing things that have been
compressed into those two hours of daily bliss on stage. As it turns
out, every road is a toll road. The best roads aren’t those that run
through the scenic landscapes. They are the roads that lead to one’s
joy, wherever it may be found.