A Has-Been That Never Was

A Dying Dream. This song was recorded and titled when I was a teenager.

I can do most things better than most people but I remain humble because most people don’t care. This post is me coming to terms of being a has-been that never was.

During my twenties I compared myself to Jon Foreman. Approaching the age of twenty-four, I wanted to write a song that rivaled his, Twenty-Four. Once I became twenty-five, the hypothetical potential was gone. I could no longer amuse myself with such a dream because I was disqualified. Modified aspirations lingered and my instruments were still used, but I felt old and abandoned.

I no longer listen to Switchfoot, the nostalgia is poisoned by failures. I truly expected to be a touring musician.

But no, my band dismantled itself.

My brother became a teacher, the lead guitarist prepared to take over his father’s business, the singer was on track to owning a franchise restaurant and I began playing with other musicians. There was one singer/songwriter couple in particular that made a difference for me. In addition to recording with them, we experienced a spectrum of venues ranging from crowds of hundreds of people to coffee houses where the audience blatantly talked over us. The highlight was opening for Todd Agnew. Yet, That band also came to an end as their parental roles increased with the birth of their second child.

I was then introduced to a musician that had returned after pursuing dreams in Nashville. Improvising with him was incredible. It seemed we had been playing music together for years. In the time it takes me to drink a cup of coffee we would have written and recorded a new song, and we did this often. He began telling me dates of possible shows in Charlotte and Nashville. Yet, he too succumbed to adulthood. How could he not? He had a nice, comfortable job, and a new family to take care of. I was simply no longer invited to play. That was the end.

Irritated with older bandmates leaving me, I joined a group of younger people. The unexpected plot twist however, was that the band had already agreed upon a set of original songs. My arrival was as a replacement and my creative input as a guitarist was not desired. There isn’t much else to say about this stint, except that I shared a stage with Neon Feather (Ben Thompson) once.

Repeated aggravations with bandmates kept me returning to solo endeavors. (EXAMPLES) I could record what I wanted and how I wanted. The council of one seemed sufficient because of my eclectic tastes. Still, the personal fulfillment of such pursuits clashed with the consensus of people at venues that wanted to hear lyrics. To which I said, lyrics are a condiment and music is food. Some people eat ketchup packets but I am content with a potato. If a meal requires substantial amounts of toppings to be considered edible, why bother with eating the entire presentation? If the blandness of instrumentation necessitates vocabulary … 

Don’t get me wrong, the majority of my favorite songs indulge rhyming. Still, I personally feel no obligation to use speech with my compositions. Yet, this may explain my lack of popularity.

After living the artist life for a while I realized the inconvenient truth that was repeated to me many times throughout the years. In order for music to be my main job, I would have to play Classic Rock at bars and weddings. Because my interest was with writing original songs, I prioritized having a day job to pay the bills and maintained music on the side. 

Of course, this was the point in which I finally connected with musicians that were already playing at weddings and bars. It had been years since I sat behind a drum kit but I wanted the opportunity to record. This venture began with a recording session of an original song. I expected the focus of the band to be pursuing original songs. I was wrong. (The focus was consistent/paying gigs.) This is the extent of my recording with them. 

In a way, this band had me playing in Charlotte and an EP of mine was mastered there as well. Symptoms of Age was mastered in Nashville, so I can cross that off my bucket list.

Eventually I too became a parent and music became a minor hobby. I don’t have regrets. I am blessed beyond what I expected. My home life is more than I could ask for. It’s just, I really wanted to be in a touring band during my teens and twenties. 

At one particular church I was the bassist and we played at multiple conferences every year. Late night sound checks, the excitement of waiting in the green room, the food and snacks and fellowship during it all was amazing. Sometimes, during video or lighting checks I would lie down on the stage, the lights would shine past my closed eyes and I could sense the space around me. Weeks of preparation came down to a day and a half of music. This was the life I wanted, except with every week being like this. 

Failure will deepen your resilience or destroy your aspirations.

I wrote that down thinking it was poignant, but the following also comes to mind.

The grass is greener on the other side because it is fertilized with more manure.

(MORE THAN YOU WANTED TO KNOW)

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