It’s all too easy, to fall into this lifestyle. People hand you things: food you want, beer, towels, a tuned guitar, your dry cleaning, hotel room keys. And you just automatically take. It gets weirdly comfortable, to have every fucking thing taken care of, except for those couple hours of being on stage. That’s the only time you have to actually pull your own shit together.
And that’s NOT easy. Well sometimes it is I guess, and it’s a joy to experience when you’re out there doing it, and a joy to watch from the audience, but: the energy required to concentrate and project and perform music is crazy intense. So I watch, and I see a working band, doing their best, being goddamn amazing, working really hard at their job. Constantly refiguring the puzzle pieces of what it is to play live and make it all fit together. And it’s addictive, that energy flow of making music. I see why they do it, again and again, despite the general hassle, the hurry-up-and-wait, the pain-in-the-ass-ness that comprises the other 22 hours of the day. Bottom line is that it’s really FUN to do. It has to be, right? Otherwise why would all these fools keep at it?
So yeah. To get back on the bus and have the food you wanted waiting with your name on it, that’s well-deserved. I don’t envy the Tour Manager’s job, though. No way. Never. Yikes.
I’ve just been on a tour bus for a week with my boy. He plays guitar in a band. I tagged along.
The bubble of an adopted tour family is both comforting and stifling. It makes you panic for a quiet empty room. It makes you fearful of having to function as an individual. The tour bus leaves you no options – it forces a level of familiarity with a lot of people in very close quarters (and many thanks to the band, for letting me take up valuable square footage last week.) And that familiarity breeds a closeness, an affinity with these other humans who you don’t REALLY know, whether you want it or not. So much more intense than just sharing a house, or dorm life. And once you’re that far in, there’s no going back – the relationship with these other people is forever changed because of circumstance. Because now, you KNOW.
Maybe I’m an intimacy-addict, but I like knowing people that well. Is that creepy?
It’s a jarring transition between tour-bubble and real world. My life calls, though – I need to get back to it. And I’m not comfortable or happy with simply following, living vicariously through someone else’s adventures. So I tear myself away. My fate is a constant fight to maintain some individuality, despite my natural urge to just dissipate into people I love. I swear I’m a nicer human when I am independent (aren’t I?) And yet here I find myself alone in a taxi, gripping the seat, trying not to cry, skidding around corners of an unfamiliar city in the middle of the night. I am headed to the bus driver’s now empty day-room, miles away from the venue but close to the airport. What? Where-the-EFF am I? Seriously, Mr. Byrne: How did I get here?
The Police comes on the cab radio and I whisper along with the lyrics, because it’s the only thing I KNOW. All else is strange and unfamiliar. How I hold on to these tiny, delicate familiarities! Song lyrics, a good cup of coffee, dark pine trees against a starry sky, a shared adventure, a closeness with other humans I meet and adore. They are all reference points to who I am. I need them to help define my boundaries. I am most certainly NOT an island. Or a rock. Maybe I’m the water.
What the hell am I talking about?
All I know is that I am now outside the tour-bubble. I scramble to rely only on myself yet again, to pull my own shit together and get to the airport in 3 hours.
The TV is still on in the day room. Baseball channel. Cigarette butts, 3 used hotel coffee cups and an empty can of Spam are in the bathroom. My displaced roommate left one bed untouched for me. I am grateful for these clean sheets, I am dizzy from free booze and no sleep, I am lonely as hell. I am on my way again. I remember that I like pushing myself outside my comfort zone, bursting all the little bubbles that I create in my life, because I, too, like to constantly refigure the puzzle pieces and make it all fit together.
Awwww, that’s corny.