We're in Springfield, Il, where I got my first night of sleep in what seems like forever. I never thought that there could be a sleep pattern weirder than the one I normally gravitate towards anyway (5 am -1 pm, give or take), but it's just amazing how hard it is to turn off for awhile and rejuvenate. Too many obstacles. But I'll take it.
We went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last week in Cleveland. Like many of you, I'm sure, I've always had mixed feelings about institutions like that. After all, Rock and Roll's origins are of being the quintessential art for the outsider. It's supposed to be, you know, rebellious. No-one's parents want them to pick up a guitar and sacrifice their life for rock and roll. In fact, they hate it. If you're a loser in elementary school, if you're unpopular in high school, if you can't get your shit together and are filled with anger...you turn to rock and roll. If you plant hidden cameras in women's bathrooms, marry your 13 year old cousin, and are still hopelessly addicted to titty bars at age 60...you're Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Lemmy. If someone poisons your whisky for having seduced the wrong socialite's wife - you're the King Of The Blues, Robert Johnson. If you can't orally put a cohesive sentence together but have other talents - you're Eddie Van Halen, one of the most inventive and exciting guitarists of all time. So suffice to say, the idea of making this into some sort of formal club that tourists can pay money to go "visit"... is very odd to me, to say the least.
On the other hand...I was frozen and speechless on at least 10 occasions staring at iconic artifacts from my life. Not just their lives - but my life. And I think that's where the power of rock and roll, and of unspeakably forward moving music and art in general, breaks through whatever boundaries others may instill upon it. I was staring at things that actually formed the foundation of who I was, who I became, and who I am. Gifts. I can tell you I never expected it, but I was moved to tears on several occasions, staring at the old crusty page in a notebook that In My Life was written, or Badlands, or Stolen Car...or Joe Strummer's beat up tele, the weapon with which he bled and attacked the world, forever improving it. They were like daggers with a line on my soul, and I had to collect myself. You can never view these people's hearts, but you stand in front of the next best thing - the vehicles through which they gave us their hearts - and it affects you. Or it affected me, at least. And I have to say, at the end of the day, it was very awesome, and personal. And I suppose if you think about it - art museums in general are the same in principle, so why single out this one? Van Gogh, Picasso - these people did not exactly lead institutionalized lives. Most people who push society forward and break barriers come from a very remote social fringe. I suppose the true artist makes the sacrifices, and the ones who go on more normal paths prop them up. They don't make museums for insurance adjusters.
One last word on that: the reason we went...is because we found out that if you are a working musician, and can bring in a CD to prove it, they let you in free - which is quite a gesture. After all, if you take those people and subtract the success and great fortune...you have us.
Anyway, enough on that. We have our own art to make, and our own struggles to persevere through. Me - I just want to matter, it's the same thing I've wanted since I was 9 years old. I think it's the same thing that drives everyone who is too stubborn to let go. This is what separates the Pete Townshends of the world from the Rod Stewarts. I don't know if there's ever a point where this recedes its hold on the wheel and lets something else drive. It sure is an internal battle I've been waging for many, many years. I suppose it's better than heroin, at least. Rock and roll musicians: overly complicated people with overly simple needs.
One difference in being out on the road with someone's band, as opposed to being out solo, is you get little solitude. When I'm out on my own, all I have is solitude - probably too much solitude! Yet solitude's always fed me. I'm fortunate that I enjoy everybody's company, and as always, life is about adapting, and maximizing the upsides, of which there are a great many (being paid to rock with friends being the obvious big winner). We're in the midst of a rather deep 2 month stretch of work, with one day home over a 6 or 7 week period. I'm learning how to take advantage of our off time, though, to write, listen to the music that enriches me, and and keep myself feeling like me. It's harder to connect with those things in some stretches, but even in this first few months of touring with this band, I've discovered - as I've always known my whole life - that's it's always there waiting for you if you reach out and extand a hand.
Here's something to help cleanse your soul on days both dark and bright:
We all got holes to fill
Them holes are all that's real
Some fall on you like a storm
Sometimes you dig your own
But choice is yours to make
And time is yours to take
Some dive into the sea
Some toil upon the stone
To live is to fly
Low and high,
So shake the dust off of your wings
And the sleep out of your eyes
So shake the dust off of your wings
And the tears out of your eyes