Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The lesson of Stevie, Robin, and Darrell

I couldn't wait to gig. Man, I was so excited, and nervous, when I had my first "real show"
at Apehanger's. The venue: a biker bar. I was 18. But it was a cool show, the bikers were great, and I had a blast.

However, once I got a few gigs under my belt, I begain to develop an opinion about gigs. Some were cool, some were "beneath me", and some were just discouraging. It was hard to feel like a rockstar in some places, with three people watching NASCAR on the bar tv, and once in a while, you'd hear a car drive by on the lone country road outside the dive's doors.

But there's been some things changing in my head. Stevie Ray Vaughan once said that he played
every show like it was his last. And on August 27th, 1990, after a smokin' set with his band, Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, and his brother, Jimmie, he was right. He died in a helicopter crash later that night.

I never knew him, but I still feel sad every August 27th. And somewhere, in the back of my mind, I wanted to play every show like it was my last.

While playing guitar on the Waterfront in Alexandria, VA, this past Friday...I almost forgot about Stevie's lesson. Grumbling because the flow of people wasn't as good as it could be, moving around and getting stressed out to find the perfect pitch for busking...Towards the end of the night, the crowds had thinned out, and I finally let go, and just played. The Woodrow Wilson bridge is visible from the docks where I play, and when the planned upgrades are completed on it, it will be the widest bridge in the world. I drive over it to go home. So I decided that I'd play as if I was going to crash on the bridge later that night on my journey homeward. I sat down, and just played. Just relaxed, and played. I gave up trying to attract folks to listen, or to drop a dollar in the bowl. Just played.

Some lady came up after I had finished a solo, and she dropped a five in my bowl. "I really enjoyed that." she said.

Later that night, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, a lady by the name of Robin Munis was singing a Toby Keith song in a bar. Suddenly, a sniper's bullet crashed through the window, and struck her in the head, killing her. The police suspect her estranged husband, a member of the Army National Guard, who had received sniper training from the military.

Dimebag Darrell was gigging in Columbus, Ohio, on December 8th, 2004, when he was shot and killed, along with a security guard, a club employee, and a 23 year old fan. How terribly sad...

We all die, sometimes peacefully, sometimes in a flash and a bang.

All of this has me thinking. And the next time I'm playing a gig, I'm not going to discount it, and I'm not going to take it for granted.

It very well could be my last show.

Are ya with me?


Anonymous said...

thats pretty freaky man,if i were to get a gig, i would definitly play my best, this i believe will help me alot...or make me paranoid haha

wolfdad said...

Hey Josh,
Man! Those are some sobering, but very uplifting thoughts. Somebody also said, back in the foggy past, that "only the good die young." And you named some VERY good folks.

Buddy Holly was yet another good example of "living each day as if it were your last." Both personally and musically, Buddy lived life to its fullest, yet sadly, he too met an untimely and early end.

None of us knows what is around the next corner or behind the next door and, good or bad, life dictates that we round that next corner and open that next door. What we leave behind is legacy (or, in some cases, with the people you mentioned, a legend), what we do today becomes a part of that legacy, yet tomorrow doesn't belong to us yet, so today is where it is all happening.

Josh, many thanks to you for taking the time to put this lesson down and, many thanks for the contributions you have made recently in this old guy's life.

wolfdad said...

Hey Josh,
A well-written and very sobering lesson that we can all take to heart.

Many thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

Buddy Holly was another name that could be added to the list of people who lived, both musically and personally, life to its fullest.

Again thanks and thanks for the contributions you have recently made to my life.

wolfdad said...

Hey Josh,
Thanks for a very timely and poignant reminder and lesson. In this age of "instant gratification," it sometimes is difficult to kick back and not take a lot for granted. Yesterday is now a legacy and tomorrow still doesn't belong to us, so all we really have to do is live the moment, hour and day to its fullest. Buddy Holly was yet another example of the lesson.