jayda's giant steps

now playing: craig bickhardt, "giant steps"

we all mark our lives in milestones, whether we realize - or acknowledge - it or not.

tomorrow will be one of those...tomorrow, my oldest, my first - jayda - will graduate from high school. she'll put on the cap and gown and walk up and receive a piece of paper that signifies satisfactory completion of twelve years of education.

i have videotape of jayda walking up the ramp at her preschool with her backpack, turning and waving...her short blond hair cut in bangs over her big brown eyes...but i think that even without the visual reminder, that moment would still be fresh in my mind. so many of them are.

i know that jayda would say that i have a brain like a collander, that i forget things like names of her friends, her work schedule...details of her present-day life. and that's true...in her late teen years, we've grown apart. it's not the kind of thing that you blame one person or the other for, although i'm sure we'd both point to markedly different reasons for it.

mom and i split up when jayda was seven and dylan was five...that was eleven years ago this month. in the time since, i've stayed here in reading - against conventional wisdom and my own wishes - to be close to them. i can't really quantify what i might have sacrificed in order to do so, because to venture into that conjecture is essentially to start compiling a list of what-if's and if-i'd-onlys...

and in essence, there are just as many of those kinds of statements that could be compiled if i were to ask myself what might have been had i stuck it out with their mother and turned my back on my gifts and what i consider to be my profession and calling.

for some years, i actually did just that - i turned my back on whatever talents i might have had as a songwriter, got out of the business altogether, and played in a cover band. i've never really regretted that, because my chops got a lot better and i was able to have my cake and eat it too, or so i thought...but the thing is, there really is no challenge as daunting in life as trying to maintain a role as a parent when you sleep under a different roof than your children more often than not.

in my heart of hearts, i know what would have happened if i'd stayed...i'd have become bitter, miserable, and insufferable, and i would have blamed them and their mother for my own failure to follow my path. if i allow myself to be absolutely truthful to myself, i know that i did the right thing in taking myself out of that situation...because i'd have been no good to them if i'd become the person i know i would've become if i'd stayed.

and, conversely, if i decided to beat myself up about the choice i made in selecting a partner (which, it has to be said, is a beating i truly deserve), then i have to accept the by-product of that particular "what if" as there being no jayda and dylan.

everything happens for a reason, truly.

yet, i feel the passage of time so deeply of late...the last year or so in particular...and i can't help but second guess my every twist and turn, sometimes.

the bottom line is that there really is no having your cake and eating it, too. everything that's important in this life involves a choice of some sort. every time we find ourselves at a crossroads, we have to choose a path. you can't go in two directions at once, thus you have to go either one way or the other.

i believed otherwise for a long time.

i really thought that i could choose this path, as a musician, and still be involved in my children's lives to (what i felt was) the proper extent. i mean, maybe all parents look back at the trajectory of their lives when they arrive here and are convinced, as i am, that they fell far short of where they should have - where their involvement in their children's lives are concerned. i'm sure that all parents experience this to a certain extent.

i just can't be convinced otherwise right now, though, and i doubt you'd find any support for an opposing argument from dylan or jayda...although we haven't really had that conversation.

it's my cross to bear...the manner in which i've handled my responsibility as a parent. for years, i truly believed that i was keeping close enough to be involved in their lives...i went to school functions, i showed up where i was supposed to, i did laundry and made dinner, we stayed up late and watched TV, we did homework at a table in the food court at the mall - and called it "mallwork".

but, you know, the bottom line is that if you weren't raised by parents, you don't know how to parent. my dad was a phantom by the time i was eight, and my mom did the best she could, but i sure do see a lot of her in the way that her defeatist attitude permeates some of my parenting moments...when i should be cowboying up, i tend to shrink and sidestep and wallow in my own guilt over my own perceived abandonment of my role...and feel as often as not that i'm not deserving of whatever role i might play as a parent in their lives.

they say that hindsight is 20/20...and i tend to trust that. results speak louder than assumption and conjecture. and the tentative, polite relationships that we currently have - at times - speak for themselves.

these days, as i look at my children who are no longer children at ages 18 and 16, our worlds are a much different place than they were when we sat at the food court and worked on homework. conversely, i look around myself at my friends in my line of work who are parents...folks who held it together, like blake allen or craig bickhardt or jd malone or skip denenberg...dan may as well...or people like lisa schaffer and the way they handle their roles as parents in similar situations to my own, and i can see, plain as day, that i got it wrong.

taking the path that i've taken has had its rewards, but it took my eye off the ball.

again, everything important in this life seems to involve a trade-off of some sort.

it's very obvious to me, as i look around my life nowadays, that i've forged a nice, comfortable, respectable niche for myself as a musician. i've worked my ass off to do it, and while i'm not a household name by any stretch, i've done very well for myself. i play with people i respect, i enjoy my work, and my life looks pretty good from the outside. i know. i hear it from time to time from people.

i'm haunted, though, by stevie nicks' words in that interview - "everyone i know is sorry for something."

and my thinly-estranged relationship with my children will be my cross to bear...and the realization of such comes at a point when it feels like it's too late to do anything about it.

the rewards from the life i've chosen, though, sometimes buffer the coldness of that reality, and justify - even if only for a moment - the choices i've made.

in my current frame of mind, my blessing this week has come in the form of a song.

the song noted prior to this entry - "giant steps" by craig bickhardt - was written by craig for his son, jake when jake was much younger. i won't retell craig's story, because he's done an excellent job of telling it himself here...but it's a beautiful glimpse of pure parental love from a father to his son...

...."You’re just a little boy clinging to your father’s hand
Your legs are working hard keeping up with your old man
And it gives you a feeling you can’t explain
To you this big old world is just a game
Taking giant steps, giant steps
A leap and a bound barely touching the ground
Time to stretch those wings, try new things
Learning to reach for your best
Taking giant steps...."

and twelve years ago, craig had the foresight to see a time, down the road, when his son would rise up to the challenge of the world and that he'd watch from the sidelines as he took his place in the world and grew into his own:

...."Soon the day will come when you’ll run ahead of me
Certain of yourself and what you’re gonna be
But when ever you stumble and lose your stride
Never lose the boy down inside
Taking giant steps, giant steps
A leap and a bound barely touching the ground
Time to stretch those wings, try new things
Learning to reach for your best
Taking giant steps..."

as i've listened to this song - over and over - i realize that it's not a matter of having chosen the wrong path. others have walked the path i'm on and have faced down the challenges of being a parent and have mustered the necessary strength to do the right thing. it's not a matter of having chosen the wrong path. this is exactly where i'm supposed to be. i don't know how to do anything else in a manner that gives me cause to get out of bed every day.

i'm blessed to be a part of the circles in which i walk...this song that craig has given to the world is so beautiful and intimate, and yet the timing of its surfacing makes it feel as if it was a gift to me, personally. that's the power of a great song, that's inspired from such a place of pure love...it transcends time and situational specifics and the things that might inform inspiration and it speaks to those who are fortunate enough to hear it in a way that goes straight to the heart of their own personal experience.

at a moment like this, sitting here and listening to this song, i know that i chose the right path. this knowledge doesn't erase the regret that i have regarding the passage of time and the manner in which i've allowed opportunities to create memories with jayda and dylan come and go....but i know that i'm in the place in my life that i'm supposed to be.

tomorrow, i'll sit and try to remain composed as i watch my daughter take her giant steps from one chapter of her life into the next - full of simultaneous pride and regret and love and sadness. i'll hope, too, that there'll come a day when she realizes that i did the best i could with what i had to work with at the time, and that through whatever choices i've made over the years, that she has been my inspiration and my reason for staying put and doing the best i could to be a part of her - of their - lives.

("giant steps" by craig bickhardt - copyright 1994, 2008 Almo Music Corp, Craig Bickhardt ASCAP, all rights administered by Universal Music)



now playing: bob seger, "down on main street"

the guitar hook in that song is an absolute classic. i'm just sayin'.


the idlewheel tour diary is posted both on my myspace blog and on my soon-to-be-consolidated session log blog. no dirt or secrets, just observations. no revelation of the identity of craig bickhardt's "mona lisa" or anything juicy like that...although discussions have commenced regarding making a sequel to the davinci code with the plot revolving around discovering the identity of the wearer of "mona lisa's frown"...

so, the northeast is in the midst of something of a snow and ice storm at the moment...there were a couple of reports this morning of the turnpike being shut down in places, and the schuylkill expressway in philadelphia was one long line from king of prussia into the city. it had started snowing already when j.d. malone and i were coming back from our show in maple shade, NJ last night...and by the time i'd transferred my gear to my trooper and started heading further out 422 westward towards home, it had completely covered the roads and was coming down at a brisk pace.

i made up my mind that the drive this morning was going to be ridiculous before i'd even gone to bed...and, of course, the berks county commuters never disappoint in that respect.

i will admit, freely, that most people would consider me an aggressive driver. i don't think of myself as aggressive, because i'm not really aggressive in any other area of my life. that, plus i'm not a headlight-blinking, fist-waving lunatic....i don't act out or anything of that nature. i do, however, have an agenda when i get behind the wheel of my car - and i take offense to those who would stand in my way simply because their heads are so firmly implanted up their asses that they impair my ability to follow through on said agenda.

but they're not the criminal. i am.

in fact, pennsylvania is one of the states that has decided to spend all that surplus tax money they have gumming up the coffers of the treasury on something called the smooth operator program - a state mandated waste of taxpayer money aimed at targeting those who behave in an aggressive manner on our state's roadways. never mind that one mans' "aggressive" is another mans' "motivated"...how does one define "aggressive driving", anyway? does an accident have to occur? must gunfire be exchanged? or does the antiquated opinion of a single cataract-lens-wearing bingo nazi suffice to label another driver "aggressive"?

here's a thought - how about a few bucks to fund a program to purge the roadways of people who aren't aggressive enough? how about we ticket, fine and revoke privileges of drivers who endanger others by taking mental vacations behind the wheel of their vehicles and putting other drivers in just as much peril as the meth addict whos' cutting across three lanes of traffic, waving an uzi out the window?

i want to be clear that i'm not condoning that kind of behavior...there are people who need to be extracted from their vehicles and tazed for doing dopey shit like that, and it's usually a fratboy type, driving an xterra with a visor hanging from the rear view mirror and a succession of college decals in the rear window, with whatever passes for music these days blaring from the subwoofer in the back. you should be able to get a license for those just like you do for deer at the beginning of the season - two bags per motorist, maybe three, and you're finished until next fratboy season starts, and then you pay for your new stamp and go out and bag two more. a few seasons of that and they'll thin their numbers out enough that they won't be much of a menace anymore.

my point is that the assholes who tool along, holding up traffic because they're driving with one hand and squinting at a mapquest printout with the other are an equal menace - if not greater - than those of us who race up your ass in the left lane trying to send you a message that you're in a place where you don't belong.

it's perfectly ok to tool along in the left hand lane at 40 miles per hour, oblivious to those who would use the lanes of the roadways as they were intended...slow on left, faster on right...indeed, i've often thought while travelling "the blue route" (a stretch of I-476 just off the schuylkill expressway in philly) that most of those people would rather have to register as a sex offender than to drive in the right lane. the inside and outside lanes could be devoid of traffic and these soccer mom, SUV driving, reality television addicts would be lined up, bumper to bumper in the center lane. far and away, i often make my best time on the blue route in the right hand lane.

that's mass idiotic behavior at its most apparent.

but again, they're not the criminal. i am.

but you know what's all the rage in the kind of weather that we're having today?

well, that would be random braking, devoid of reason.

that's right, folks...tooling along at the typical 28 miles per hour, regardless of road conditions, all because some douchebag with a bowtie on the weather report told you to - not because you believe the evidence presented to your own eyes and the soles of your feet when you got into the car, but because of what you were told by the television. there you go, driving safe as can be, with cars lined up behind you who would like to get to the grocery store before you, so they don't have to fight you for the last loaf of bread...and all of a sudden, for no logical friggin' reason whatsoever, the brake lights come on. no wild animals running out in front of you, no traffic lights in sight, no discernable reason for your sudden desire to stop, dead still, in the middle of the road, save for the fact that the voices in your empty-assed head must have told you to.

here again - they're not the criminal. i am.

there are so many instances of douchebaggery that take place behind the wheel, it's hard to catalog them all - pulling out into a lane of traffic right in front of me with your head turned, looking in the other direction - that's a fave of mine, because it makes me look like an ass because i have to slam on my brakes and hope that no one behind me is reading the movie titles off the marquee instead of paying attention to the fact that i just had to come to a dead stop to keep from doing to the asshole in front of me what you're about to do to my vehicle.

the other classic is the guy who sits at a green turn arrow and stares at it, as if they didn't feel worthy of being given permission to make the turn at this early date.
ok, i'm willing to admit that likelihood that they weren't actually staring at the light, but were probably otherwise involved - maybe manipulating the discs in the CD player or something like that...swapping out that taylor hicks disc for some bucky covington or something like that. hey, life's short. why not use your free hand to shove some mcdonalds' fries into your maw, while you're at it? what's that? you don't want to get grease on your cell phone? oooh, snap.

did i mention? that they're not the criminal? i am.

i want to clarify that i haven't been cited for aggressive driving, and i'm not venting for any reason other than i'm sick of our recent national infatuation with viewing placement of blame as a sport. we sue people who make coffee for making it hot because we're too fucking stupid to respect the very parameters of its nature.
and, in the same spirit, we want to punish the driver in the left lane for the extreme measures he has to take to escape the effect of the douchebag who cannot and will not abide by the truman edict of "lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way".

but, it must be said - this de-evolution of the human species isn't confined to our nations' roadways. this isn't a traffic problem - it's a human problem.

because that asshole tooling along on their way to the bingo parlor at 40 miles per hour in the left hand lane with a big mac, a cell phone, and a mapquest printout? you know the guy, right?

well, that's the same asshole that you end up behind at the supermarket, with their cart in the center of the aisle at a 45 degree angle, standing slack-jawed and staring at the back of two jars of peanut butter while a line of aggressive shoppers forms behind him.

it's the same asshole who wants to chat up the sexy latina cashier at the bank while you're standing in the growing line waiting to conduct a 45 second transaction so that you can get back to work.

you'll also find that asshole in line at the post office, buying stamps that they could have gotten out of the machine in the lobby. but don't bitch - that just makes you an aggressive customer. and, lord knows, there are enough aggressive folks at the post office.

all this behavior, vehicular and otherwise, points back to two central traits that are going to be largely responsible for the demise of humanity in general.

one - people don't give a shit about anyone but themselves.

how hard is it, really, to ease over to the right when someone comes up behind you who's obviously in more of a hurry than you are? i can tell you, because i've done it hundreds of times. it's about as hard as raising your cabbagelike head about an inch, rotating your eyeballs slightly to the right to check your mirrors, and - finally - slightly rotate your hands to turn the steering wheel gently to the right and straighten it again.

it's less complicated than placing a vote for your favorite american idol contestant....yet motorists view this as a sign of weakness, as a physical affront to their ego.

let me just say it - what the fuck?!??!??

it doesn't make you less of a man, it doesn't diminish your standing in gods' eyes, it doesn't demean you in the presence of your family...in fact, once you get used to it, you'll find it a nice change of pace to be able to take the moral high ground and say, as i am right now, that you're contributing to the solution instead of being part of the problem where this issue is concerned.

seriously - you're no less a person just because you're relinquishing the lane to someone with a more urgent agenda than your own.

but it's not that, is it? it's not that at all. it is, more likely, central trait number two.

two - people just don't care about shit anymore.

it's not about whos' in the left lane at all. it's that you just don't give a fuck. you don't care about the guy behind you whos' trying to get to work, to a gig, to the hospital to see his son before he goes into surgery, to get their kids to school on time, to pick someone up or drop someone off at the airport....fuck them. they're not you, so they're not important.

you don't care any more about that guy behind you in traffic than you do the guy behind you at the supermarket, at the bank, at the post office, wherever. you just don't care.

so, to summarize - you're out for yourself at the expense of anyone else who might have the misfortune of finding you as an obstacle, and you couldn't care less about it.

and, since it bears repeating - you're not the criminal. i am.

millenia from now, historians will look back on us with incredulity and wonder how it is that, with so much potential for knowledge, civilization took so many steps backward during this era.

we've managed to couple this uber-apathy with staggering levels of ignorance - america is routinely measured in academic terms against other nations and we fall further behind every year, despite the alleged best efforts of president dirty harry and his pet "no child left behind" act. we do so by making ignorance cool. the kid who busts his ass and gets good grades is the dork, while the kid who gets thrown out of class for making fart noises is celebrated by his peers. we elbow quality programming off our airwaves in favor of so-called "reality television" and garbage like "jackass", "celebrity rehab with doctor drew", and the like.

(allow me to burst your bubble for a split second here. do you really believe that those tanned wilderness buffs you see on "survivor" are eating beetles and tree bark while being filmed by a union camera crew with a deli spread on a table thirty feet away? seriously. wake the hell up.)

the same situation exists in music. some years ago, my buddy jim boggia released an album titled fidelity is the enemy...he knew then what it's impossible to ignore now - that we've dumbed down our tastes to the point where our universal fidelity standard is a compressed MP3 file that has none of the harmonic richness of an analog recording mastered to digital, where it's again been earmarked as "cool" not to be able to sing or play your instrument - fuck that. we'll fix it in protools, and it'll all be good. music is compressed to the point of asphyxiation in an effort to be as loud and devoid of dynamics as possible, and this butchery is not only accepted, it's encouraged. but then most of what's being foisted upon the masses in this day and age doesn't necessarily suffer from being technologically neutered. it's almost as if we've realized the folly of polishing a turd and we've said to the music-consuming public, "hey - here's a turd. enjoy."

no wonder we don't give a shit.

i grew up as part of a generation constantly confronted by hunger in third world nations, by an unjust war being broadcast into our living rooms...being told by my mother to clean my plate, because there were children elsewhere who'd give anything to have what i had - and let me tell you, that wasn't much. now, when confronted with a situation like darfur, we immediately shut down and tune out and move on to something more pressing - like forging alliances in world of warcraft or what's new on iTunes this week.

i'm painfully aware that the older i get, the older i sound...and, interestingly, i've made peace with that. i've often said that if i could be eighteen again, i'd do it in a heartbeat...but only if i could be 18 in 1972 or so. i wouldn't be a kid again in this day and age for any amount of money. youth isn't that important to me, and i feel lucky to be the age i am more often than not. and i'm aware that every generation has a certain amount of disdain for those who follow them.

me? i reserve that disdain for the ones who drive like self-consumed douchebags.

now either step on it or get the hell over. i'm late for rehearsal.


this family moment - brought to you by frigidaire and charmin

a snippet from tonights' sofa homework session:

dad: "well, you know, i could just get you a fridge for your room..."

dylan: "if you did that, i'd just poop out my window and never leave."

it's been that kind of night.....


stuff. just....stuff.

now playing: idlewheel, "dust of this town"

a la my buddy michael anthony smith, a few random and splintered thoughts for the day....

for the longest time, i thought that jackson browne was singing "his destination envious, and i had none at all" in song for adam from his first album (he is, in fact, singing "his destination india...").

even having realized this, i think i like "envious" better. makes the narrarative sound a little jealous that the subject is headed to wherever he's going...and that, to a certain extent, the act of leaving in and of itself is envious.

i need to find something to do for a living that has nothing to do with computers, if i want to maintain the slightest semblance of faith in humanity whatsoever. humans have managed to use two devices to plunge to new depths of stupidity - computers and motor vehicles - and i would ideally like to have no part of having to fix either of them.

i cherish my late night drives with my daughter, and i shall miss them terribly in the not too distant future.

sometimes in life, it's absolutely necessary to take inventory of the people around you and trim the fat. we all collect people who, over time, take more than they give...and it happens without our knowledge or consent. in my own life, i seem to have accumulated a large number of these folks in a musical sense. although i still miss some of them, the tradeoff of having a night or two a week to go home and do nothing has been reward enough to outweigh the losses.

the flip side of that notion is that there are a lot of folks who are important to me that i've fallen out of touch with in the past couple of months...i need to rectify that situation in the not too distant future.

as i get older, i have even less of what little patience i've ever had for musicians who refuse to use the ears that god gave them.

as that patience dwindles, god seems intent on throwing more and more of them into my path.

with every day that passes, i see a new way in which my son is just like me...and it's frustrating as hell that i can't show him the error of my ways, so that they don't become the error of his ways.

in a pathetic way, i'm secretly happy for the academic failures that brought about his coming to live with me - it's the only way i would have ever stood a chance in hell of pulling that off without some mitigating circumstance to force the issue - and having him there every night has been wonderful. frustrating, but wonderful.

dylan's taste in movies sucks ass, but i always end up laughing at them.

much as i would like to view the fact that the american idol premiere this season had four times fewer viewers than last year as some kind of evidence that the human race is trying to right itself before capsizing, i can't help but feel that it's too little, too late. (as you probably know, i consider the advent of reality television to be one of the figurative horsemen of the apocalypse.)

every time i get a fleeting moment to spend with jayda lately, i can think of little else but how much i'm going to miss her when she inevitably flies the coop.

that same inevitable sense of loss hovers over the time i spend with dylan, but since we live under the same roof now, it's tempered with a degree of gratitude that we've gotten the opportunity to be this involved in each others' lives. he usually puts up a front that it's against his will when we do things together, but if my hunch is correct and he truly is a clone of his father, he'll be thankful someday that we had this time, too.

if there's a lesson that it appears that i'll never learn this trip through this life, it's this:

if you want it done right, or at least to your personal definition of right, either do it yourself or learn to do it yourself.

i've had opportunity after opportunity to soak up that lesson in the forty years i've been shuffling about this planet, and i seem to have this subconcious refusal to accept it, learn it, and move on. this studio debacle from last year is just the latest in a string of opportunities i've had to learn this for good...maybe this time, it'll take. if you cast your lot in this life with other people, no matter how well you think you know them, they will disappoint you. period. if you can do it by yourself, do it by yourself.

i firmly - FIRMLY - believe that if you're capable of mastering World Of Warcraft, then there's no excuse whatsoever for not being a C student. if you've been exposed to this game at all, and the convoluted rules, plot twists, levels, point scales, et cetera...you'd be hard pressed to argue that high school english, chemistry, or western civilization is somehow beyond your comprehension.

someone posted on the nashville craigslist board recently that "by the time you're old enough to figure out the game, you're too old to play." maybe that's true in nashville, but in all the years that i've been able to consider myself a musician, i've never had as many opportunities as i've been given within the last couple of years. some of them have bourne fruit, some of them have turned out to be wasted time, but it seems like new doors are constantly opening for me. i haven't been this excited about being a musician since the weeks before the release of my record over ten years ago. it truly feels like i'm in a position to do this on a respectable level, with other talented people who are worthy of the level of effort that i'm willing to make.

i find that i'm fascinated with people who hold the past in high regard...they have the best stories. :)

after some four decades, i've finally figured out the source of my aversion to eating healthy - laziness. seriously. i could make half a dozen sandwiches in the time it takes to concoct a salad. and while i can operate a motor vehicle while eating a wrap, most healthy food requires the use of at least one utensil - thus disqualifying it from serious consideration for vehicular nourishment.

today, oddly enough...i'm neither disgusted nor amused.

this, too, shall pass.


dan fogelberg, 1951 - 2007

on the morning of december 9th, 1980, i woke up the way i usually did...the magnavox clock radio that sat beside my bed went off early, but it wasn't set to "alarm"...it was set so that the radio came on. there was only one station that came in well enough that i could depend on it to be tuned in by the time morning came around, and that was WQLT in florence/muscle shoals, alabama.

they were an ABC affiliate, and this was the day when radio stations regularly carried network news on the half hour, whether it be RKO, NBC, ABC, whoever...and on this particular morning, the radio came on and i commenced my usual drill of lying there, listening to the radio while i waited for my wits to fall about me...until the news came on. that was my signal to get up and get my shit together and start getting ready for school.

but on this particular morning, the news was that john lennon had been shot, and had died the previous night in new york city.

then, straight from the news, they went without commercials or other interruptions, right into music.

they played "same auld lang syne" by dan fogelberg.

and for 27 years, that song has always reminded me of hearing the news that john lennon had died.

this year, i think i've been cured of that association.

now, you can think me "gay" (in whatever connotation of the word) for what i'm about to write. lump me in with whatever slobbering idiot you will. truth is, i don't really give a fuck.

but this is the deal.

if a human life could be examined the way we examine the rings inside the trunk of a tree, there would be a lot of rings at the center of mine that dan fogelberg would be responsible for shaping.

i'm past the point of listening to any shit about what an easy-listening softball dan fogelberg was. if you really believe that, it just goes to show how truly little you know about him as a musician, a composer, a singer, an artist. you have my permission to stop reading now and move along, douchebag.

see, in order to truly understand this, you'd have to know things about me that only a select few people know.

you'd have to know where i grew up, how i grew up, what the circumstances were of my screwy, misinformed, weird adolescence...and how my tripping backwards into music managed to become my guidepost to somehow escape all that and come out bearing some blurry resemblance to normal.

there really wasn't anybody else like me where i grew up. i was born into a family largely comprised of single-celled, small minded beings who knew only the dirt under their feet and their assigned duties and identities. their only real glimpse of the rest of the world came through the television, and - well, that was just the television. it wasn't real, after all. picking cotton and weeding the soybeans and tending the garden and feedin' the cows - that was real.

and then, that aforementioned clock radio showed up.

it was a christmas gift from my mother, and to this day i still don't know why she got it for me. i didn't ask for it. i guess it was largely maternal intuition.

up until that point, the only music i'd been exposed to was on my grandmothers' radio and the occasional saturday night trips to church...to "the singing", as they called them. i knew from sitting in the front of the pews and hearing those southern gospel bands up close that there was something going on when people played live that didn't make it onto the radio, but as it was, i didn't give it much thought. at that point in my life, batman and cop shows on TV were my focus.

but then, as you get older and it becomes less acceptable to escape into comic books, you instinctively look for other means...and that clock radio opened a huge, gaping door for me.

i'd twiddle the knob and stop on whatever struck my fancy - and after a while, it was all i did. i could take it anywhere, because it was small, and it didn't require my full, physical attention, so i didn't have to stop everything i was doing to listen to it.

to say it was my constant companion wouldn't be singled out as an understatement by anyone in my family who saw me carrying that thing under my arm when i'd arrive at my grandparent's house...and when we left to go home.

it was my window to a new world...all of a sudden, the t-shirts that the other kids were wearing to school made sense. the little snippets of nonsense that they would quote to one another suddenly had meaning - they were song lyrics. soon, i understood what music defined specific cliques in school...i knew which members of our county caste system seemed to identify with which kinds of music....

...all of a sudden, a lot of things made sense to me that were mystifying before, to a kid who had no idea how he was supposed to fit into this strange horde of people he'd been thrust into when he had to get on a bus and ride 40 minutes into town to start his junior high academic career.

so the radio...WQLT, WKIR, WLS, and many more....became my companion, my solace, my counselor, my confidant, my informant.

as such, i had begun to hear dan fogelberg's music almost instantly from the time i'd gotten the radio. the first song i'd heard was "the power of gold" from the twin sons of different mothers album with tim weisberg...which didn't really stick out from everything else i was hearing at the moment, honestly - largely because it was all so new to me at the time, and my tastes were just beginning to develop. all these years later, though, it still doesn't rank among my favorites. later, though, i heard "part of the plan" (and figured out that dan actually did records without tim weisberg too!) and "once upon a time". at that point, dan was still a name among the many that i was learning about as i navigated the landscape of pop music. the more i heard, the more i wanted to hear - of everybody. well, almost everybody. i heard plenty that i didn't like, too. in fact, i'd dare say that i had my musical awakening about as late as you could possibly have it and still have it informed by radio without having your brain turned into spam. in a few short years, the disco craze would be upon us and the radio wouldn't be so safe anymore.

but the summer that irving azoff's epic "FM" movie (and yeah, let's agree that i'm using the term loosely) came out, the soundtrack was all over the radio...specifically the steely dan title track and a couple others that floated to the top of the collective airwaves.

but one afternoon, i was lying on the bed in one of the bedrooms in my grandfathers' house. well, not really lying on it, but lying across it, with my arms dangling off the side, drawing on a pad of paper that was laying on the floor directly under my head that hung off the side of the bed as well.

then....this....song comes on the radio.

"...there's a place in the world for a gambler
there's a burden that only he can bear...."

i stopped drawing and just lay there, listening and looking out the window at the tree branches of the giant oak tree that sat in the side yard at my grandparents' house, and waited to hear who it was that created this song. and, of course, the song came and went without a word as to who it was. and, i was sure, i'd never hear it again. thankfully, i was wrong, but at the moment, i was pissed.

if you give two shits about music at all, you know that feeling. the feeling that stirs in the center of your head and your chest when you hear something that really resonates on some level...when something lifts your chin up and cocks your head a bit to one side and gently diverts your attention and draws you in. it's different for different people, and sometimes i look around me and i honestly think that the people who care enough about music to actually feel that have dwindled down to a tiny tribe with its members scattered so far to the ends of the earth that they don't recognize each other anymore. sometimes, the only way i'm really able to identify them is by the way they react to music...you can see it. you can see it if you know what to look for, anyway. that distant disposition that they take on when they hear it. that empassioned fire that takes command of them when they talk about it. and when something hits one of us in the chest, rest assured we take notice. like i said, if you know what to look for, you'll be able to pick us out.

anyway...decades later, i remember that afternoon. just like i remember the first time i heard david lindley's lap steel on "running on empty", just like the first time i ran down the stairs to see where that song was coming from, the first time john gorka's video for "houses in the fields" appeared out of nowhere on television...hearing the harmonies on the acappella intro to "carry on wayward son" in sixth grade, when we were all allowed to bring records for the last day of school and someone brought that 45 and played it on the classroom turntable (it was a harmony thing. even before i knew what to call it, it had its hooks in me)... the way i was literally unable to speak for a few minutes after the lights came up at my first rush concert...when i first heard joni mitchell's "court and spark" album in its entirety. sitting right in front of dar williams at the north star bar the night that susan smith confessed to killing her children and hearing "when i was a boy" for the first time, with the image fresh in my mind of having just seen them pull the car out of the lake - on the TV behind the counter at lorenzo's pizza on south street. hearing the song "half moon silver" by a still-unknown band called hotel and straining to hear the song through the static on the radio and being moved to tears by a piece of music for the first time and not really knowing how to react to myself for having allowed that to happen.

you're probably getting the sense that i could go on and on, and you'd be right.

largely as a result of growing up when i did, my taste was all over the place. i loved the country music i heard on the radio in my grandfather's truck, i loved the gospel music we heard in church when they'd have bands come in, and now, i was in over my head with rock and roll. and while there were "camps" at school, i never subscribed to that. i listened to dan fogelberg AND rush (as you may have noticed earlier). WKIR, my favorite radio station, would think nothing of playing heaven and hell by black sabbath and going right into two lane highway by pure prairie league, and then seque into 2112 and play something from the phoenix album right after that. being exposed to that was a gift that i've never stopped being thankful for. but as for my own musical aspirations, i had decided that i was a drummer. and i sank everything i had into it. i was smitten by the energy that went into it, and it came naturally to me. i'd watch other drummers on tv and try to figure out what they were doing. i built a ragamuffin drum kit out of buckets and scraps, and started pounding out rudiments as i could figure them out, playing along to the radio. as such, while my appreciation for dan fogelberg and crosby, stills, and nash and poco and the eagles and the like was tangible, i was on a mission. so i continued to hear his music on the radio and we got to know each other - well, gradually. he had released the phoenix album, which had the huge hit longer on it, but it also had wishing on the moon and beggar's game and heart hotels and face the fire and along the road and gypsy wind and the last to know...there wasn't a single wasted song on that album. not one ounce of filler.

he now had my attenion. i was still a drummer, but the thought of taking up guitar was becoming more attractive. not as a main instrument, because i was convinced that my true talents lay with the drums...but wouldn't it be cool to be able to do that?

i soldiered on, undeterred...i bought my first drumset from my then-as-now friend, jeff letson, and began playing drums with his family's country band. i started seeking out musicians at school and hanging with them. later, there'd be the various garage bands, and ultimately the band that was my pre-adulthood finest hour, the new hope guys - and, by the time i'd gotten to that point, i was already starting to work out the basics of getting through a song on guitar. we used to go back to my buddy jerry's house after gigs and sit around and listen to music, and that's the first place i heard dan's souvenirs album in its entirety. (the same could be said for karla bonoff's restless nights album and a couple of others...jerry also got my litle feat cherry, for which i will be eternally grateful.) as everybody else sat around talking, i fell silent and listened to the album - and that was it. i was at the record store the next chance i got.

when i was a kid, we had these marvelous inventions of cultural commerce called record stores. they were, if you can believe this, a place where people went to actually purchase music. in real, tangible form. with artwork and liner notes and all kinds of extra goodies. music came in sometimes loosely themed collections called albums, sometimes with more than one record in them...sometimes, if it was a really special album, it would come with a booklet or a poster or something else relating to the artist who created the music. albums were the absolute best means for delivery of specific music that have ever existed. why? well, because they were art as well as music. they were, in the pre-internet era, a combination of music delivery medium and marketing tool. there were liner notes with lyrics, and little "thank you"s that you'd scour for a hint of an idea about who this person was - there'd be additional pictures sometimes, things like that. and, if it was an artist you truly loved, you were hungry for that. because all you really got was the music and an occasional article in creem or hit parader and a sporadic appearance on the midnight special and...well, that's what you got. that's ALL you got.

and the mystique created by that lack of accessibility made them special. mysterious. enigmatic.

other things added to his enigma, as well.

when i was working at my hometown radio station, i found an album in a plain white jacket in the attic by a woman named florence warner. i would have ignored it, had i not read the songwriting credits on the record itself. the opening cut was a todd rundgren song, and there were two songs on the album credited to "d. fogelberg" - song from half mountain, which appeared on dan's souvenirs album, and another song, called "the lady loves the river"...that never appeared on any of dan's albums. to this date, i haven't found it on any bootlegs or rarities tapes that float around the ether, it hasn't shown up anywhere else...if not for that record, it well may never have surfaced at all.

then there was the internally concocted notion of The Missing Album.

i seem to have decided, at some point back then, that the leap from the organic, mostly acoustic and guitar-driven sound that encompassed the bulk of captured angel was simply too far afield of the orchestral majesty that surfaced on netherlands, and that there must have been, at some point, an album in between them. i couldn't explain what happened to it, or even if it had ever been properly released, or if it had been recorded, turned in, and then rejected by the record label or something. i had no grounds for believing such a thing, but i couldn't be dissuaded that there was an album out there, somewhere, that was a hybrid of those two albums. for the longest time, in fact, i would have dreams where i would hear a song from it...either on the radio, or i'd hear it coming from a room somewhere...and i'd wake up and i'd remember snippets of what i'd heard, but never enough of it to try to translate into something of my own.

eventually, though, i made peace with the fact that, indeed, there was no Missing Album...and the dreams subsided.

obviously, though, as i learned more about him, i became even more enamoured - this guy wrote the songs, he played damn near all the instruments on them...he played piano and guitar equally well - not like so many of the others who did one just to offset the other. he played steel guitar, he played 12 string, banjo, sitar, whatever he could get his hands on. he wrote synthesizer parts, string arrangements...and to me, that was a skill beyond my comprehension. i was a fledgling drummer who looked upon all that harmony and theory stuff with amazement. his instrumental prowess was staggering. to this day when i listen to his music, i can't help but think from time to time about how old he was when he created whatever particular piece of music i might be listening to at the time.

all of the work that he's best known for - up to and including his masterpiece double album, the innocent age, were created before he was 30. his most ambitious instrumental album, the collaboration with tim weisberg (twin sons of different mothers), was released in late '77. he turned 26 in august of that year.

when you consider the compositional depth of that record, the broad palette of styles that record touched on - from neoclassical pieces like paris nocturne, bossa nova pieces like guitar etude number 3, the jazz inflections of intimidation, as well as cuts like hurtwood alley, tell me to my face and the single the power of gold...these songs were the work of a virtuoso musician. a 26 year old virtuoso musician, whose compositional skills were very sharp. and unlike most guitarists, his skills on piano weren't secondary to his skills on other instruments, nor vice versa.

then, there was that voice.

he had that voice...that plaintive, soulful voice that made the hair on my arms stand up. and when he would layer his voice on those records the way he did after the bridge of "to the morning"...the way he did on "along the road" from the phoenix album...the way he did on that first encounter, at the end of "there's a place in the world for a gambler"...the tag at the end of "long way home (live in the country)"...and, of course, all those layered, joni mitchellesque harmonies on captured angel...to this day, i rank dan fogelberg as one of the top five vocalists of all time when it comes to creating a harmony blend with his own voice. right up there with david crosby, with michael mcdonald, with todd rundgren...from day one, he earned that distinction.

his gifts as a lyricist and a poet were formidable, as well. his songs were both personal reflections on the human condition and the state of our interactions with one another, both romantic and interpersonal. he perhaps reached his peak as a lyricist on the innocent age, a self professed "song cycle" that was certainly his most ambitious work to that point. each song on that album is poignant in its own place within the structure of the record - it's truly an album in the sense that it's a collection of works that contain a thread from start to finish, each of which stand on its own merits.

and there isn't a single wasted song on this entire album. he made a double album with no filler.

where fleetwood mac failed miserably just a year earlier, he succeeded beyond probably his own ability to comprehend.

in the lyrics of his songs, there was restlessness...lost loves, a sense of melancholy that can only come from romantic regret...although one senses various flavors of nostalgia tinged with regret interspersed through the innocent age:

"back at the start, it was easy to see
no one to hold to, nowhere to be
deep in the heartland, a sad memory
calls to me...

fretful horizons, worrisome skies
tearful misgivings burn in your eyes
yearnings unanswered reckon the wage
you pay to recapture the innocent age..."

in the sand and the foam and the following track, in the passage, he reflects on mortality:

"...pressed in the pages of some aging text
lies an old lily a'crumbling
marking a moment of childish respect
long since betrayed and forgotten
time stills the singing a child holds so dear
and i'm just beginning to hear
gone are the pathways the child followed home
gone...like the sand and the foam."

"...the places dash and the faces dart
like fishes in a dream
hiding 'neath the murky depths of long forgotten streams
the lines of life are never long, when seen from end to end
the future's never coming...and the past has never been...

there's a ring around the moon tonight
and a chill in the air
and a fire in the stars that hang so near..."

in his duet with emmylou harris, only the heart may know, romantic nostalgia and regret resurfaces:

"...silent sea
tell this to me
where are the children that we used to be?

at picture shows
where nobody goes
and only the heart can see

starry skies
soft lullabies
where do they go when their melody dies?

to a day
far, far away
that only the heart may know

friends we knew follow us through
all of the days of our lives
love we shared waits for us there
where our wishes forever reside..."

now, it could be noted that the deftness with which we wrote about matters of the heart didn't simply surface on this album...in fact, it was the one thread that ran through all his work, from his first album in 1972 right up through the crowning moment of his most appreciated body of work, the innocent age.

i heard the songs on the radio. i sang along with them. and i bought his albums...the back catalog and all. at that point in time, i was still convinced that my destiny lay behind the drums...although i had taken up guitar recreationally. i still had a pretty broad palette, but most of my energy at the time was directed at the drums...i was largely convinced that there were too damn many guitar players, and that i was creating a niche for myself. i was pretty damn good, too, if i do say so myself.

in the year before i left my hometown forever, i went to two concerts at the mid-south coliseum in memphis. having been at the two of them changed my direction, and my life, from that point forward.

the first was rush, with british blues guitarist rory gallagher opening...

the second was dan fogelberg, solo acoustic, touring behind his just-released greatest hits album.

now, for the sake of illustration, it needs to be pointed out that i LOVED rush, with the same fervor that i would later hold for fogelberg...i gobbled up their albums, i practiced the drums along to them (to the extent that i could keep up), and i studied neil peart's technique perpetually. i would sit in class, practicing the four-stroke rolls that i grew to associate with him on my desk...as gently as i could. (for the sake of illustration, the four stroke roll in question requires that each of your hands and feet land one right after the other, with both feet on the bass drum pedals. if i were to demonstrate it for you, you'd probably understand better than having me describe it. let's just say that, for a drummer with even a couple years' experience, it takes some time to master.)

anyway...point made. i thought they were the SHIT. they could do no wrong in my book. i thought them to be virtuostic, in the same way that i already considered dan to be virtuostic, but it was - quite obviously - apples and oranges. completely different styles of music.

so we went to see rush...HUGE crowd. lights went down, the crowd went nuts, and the opening strains of "spirit of radio" came thundering off the stage. every nerve ending in my body was at attention...i felt like the music was coursing through my veins. it was intensely loud, and i loved every minute of it. when i found the couple i came with at the end of the show, it literally took me a few minutes before i was able to speak...i was spent. the lights, the sound, the way they played everything perfectly and with total and complete precision...i had never seen anything like it.

we'd be coming back again, just a month or so before i was to leave for boot camp, though...to see dan fogelberg.

now, it was the same auditorium...again, filled with people. we got there early (it was just my buddy tommy and myself), and we took our seats...the lights went down, and dan came out and took a seat on a wooden chair in the center of the stage...when the applause died down, he started playing the chords of "once upon a time".

i'd heard this song before, many times. but he was playing it on a 12 string guitar (tuned, i'd later figure out, to an open D voicing), and it just sounded HUGE. and when he opened his mouth to sing...

...they say a person's voice never has the same power on record as it has when you hear them sing live. that night, i was a believer. during the opening song, i honestly thought for a moment that i heard people singing along in the audience for a moment, before i figured out that it was the delay from the front of the hall to the back.

that night, as dan switched back and forth from six string to twelve string, from steel string to classical guitar, from guitar to piano, i completely careened off the road that i was certain i belonged on. somehow, there was a magic in what i was seeing that i didn't see when i was sitting behind the drums. the sheer beauty of his voice and his songs were never more evident to me than they were on that night when i saw him in that setting.

he played guitar etude number 3 from twin sons and he SANG tim weisberg's flute part while he played the guitar part. he played the reach and incorporated the descending riff from the song into the strumming pattern on his twelve string guitar (which, i again learned after the fact, was due to being played in an open tuning that allowed for the execution of the riff as part of the strum pattern itself) - i was certain that someone was playing along with him offstage. he played the hits, but he also played a classical instrumental piece that i'd never heard before. he played "make love stay" from his greatest hits album, and played it in a way that outlined the arrangement of the song perfectly. up to that point, i'd believed that the parts of the songs were sculpted together in the studio...but watching him play them by himself, it was obvious that the parts that evolved in the studio grew organically from his original arrangements of the songs.

it was the only time i've ever heard him play the title track from the innocent age live. his voice filled up the coliseum, and i sat there and cried like a baby in the dark, hoping my buddy didn't hear me.

there, in the dark along with several thousand other people in memphis tennessee, my course completely changed.

when i heard dan fogelberg that night, with just his instrument and his voice, i knew what i wanted to do. without question. i wanted to sing, and play guitar, and play in front of people.

but, it went deeper than that.

every kid who was watching the ed sullivan show in february of 1964 knows that part of it.

dan fogelberg made me want to pick up my pencil and put down all these random missives that plagued my thoughts and turn them into songs. he made me want to write. he made me want to channel all the wayward ideas and phrases that ricocheted endlessly through my brain into something that made sense.

as i nudged my way through adolescence, as i awkwardly navigated the transformation from preteen music geek to post-adolescent music geek who refused to grow up (despite the U.S. Navy's best efforts to force the transition), his music was the north star by which i navigated my own feeble early attempts at songwriting. i bought my first four track cassette recorder at my first duty station, iceland (which i chose of my own accord, for two reasons - i couldn't imagine being any further from home than there, and because the lovely diane kasper, whom i'd developed a crush on in school at pensacola, was headed there also)...many of my initial forays into recording myself were weak, warbly versions of dan fogelberg songs. indeed, it was during the year that i spent in self-imposed isolation on "the rock" that i found myself most immersed in dan's music. i had gotten a walkman as a going-away present, and i had bought a "super saver" cassette with home free on one side and captured angel on the other before i left the states, and i wore it out there on my walks around the base. often i would find myself on the playground at the elementary school on the base, sitting on the swings and listening to music...any one of the many mixtapes i'd made for myself, or that old reliable super-saver. then i'd go back to my room and, when the absence of a roommate permitted, i'd record myself attempting to sing the harmony parts from along the road, over and over, striving to layer them and sing them in tune.

eventually, with practice, i became bolder...began writing my own songs, and recording them. and my love for dans' music led me to jackson browne, and stephen stills, and so on and so forth. my horizons broadened, my talents flourished, i became more adept at guitar....iceland had proven to be incredibly fertile on a creative level.

his "high country snows" album came out while i was in iceland.

there's actually a journal entry in one of my journals, detailing the moment that i heard "go down easy" for the first time on the radio. i had come home from a midnight shift and heard on our AFRTS radio station that they'd be "playing the latest from dan fogelberg in the next hour". i stayed up an extra hour to hear the song, and was overjoyed. it sounded like a throwback to his earlier material - i didn't know yet that the album was a bluegrass record, and didn't mind in the least when i heard the entire album. it quickly joined my "super saver" tape and several others in my walkman rotation for my walks around the base at all hours of the night.

there wouldn't be another dan fogelberg album for some time - not until exiles, when i had gotten out of the navy. i saw him twice when he toured for exiles, with wendy waldman opening...great shows, both the acoustic and electric components - on that tour, he played a song called "nature of the game" that just blew my mind...it was a stephen stills-like acoustic blues guitar piece, with some great acoustic guitar work in it, and i looked out for it on the next two albums, but it never materialized. no matter. he was still the master.

i had hoped it would turn up on his next album, the wild places, but that album was where my disconnect started.

many of his fans, myself included, found our interest waning in his instrumental experimentation with world music, or bluegrass, or the celtic themes that permeated his christmas album. indeed, he spoke about his frustration with fans who maintained that his best work was behind him...but he was also frank about the fact that while he once might have written four songs in a week, he now considered himself lucky to write four a year. in one of his last interviews, he remarked that he flirted with the belief that we're born with a finite number of songs within us..some may get more than others, but he hinted at the notion that the well might have actually begun to dry up.

i found out that dan was ill just weeks after learning that he was supposed to come to reading as part of his fall tour a few years ago. i had been on the fence about going, as i had just seen his appearance on soundstage and was, quite frankly, disappointed. he sounded tired, his voice sounded thin...and i walked away from having seen that show with the impression that he was just phoning it in, which was an impression that i had gotten somewhat comfortable in getting, ever since the last time i'd seen him perform live, at the valley forge music fair some years earlier. from what i was able to find out, he'd been sick and had to cancel his previous night's show in bloomsburg due to illness...and early in the show, someone in the audience yelled, "we missed you in bloomsburg last night, dan!"

it must've rubbed him the wrong way, because he didn't say another word the rest of the night. one encore, "same auld lang syne" and out. lights up, show over.

i had gone with the kids' mom and my buddy, todd...todd was still a greenhorn in those days. i have a picture somewhere of todd, resplendent in his mullet, standing next to dan's tour bus that night. he came out back and got into a waiting limo and left, didn't really say anything to anyone.

i bought the wild places when it came out...and made a special trip to the mall to pick up the accompanying concert film (which sparked a fight with the ex that made it difficult to enjoy it on the first viewing - but i eventually got over that). the following record, river of souls, was...well, let's just say i didn't receive it quite as well. i bought it and put it in the cassette deck in the van and drove around listening to it...and just got angry. i was angry at dan for abandoning what i felt was his identity to pursue - well, whatever direction this was. it sounded like synthesized, half-hearted attempts at world music. and it pissed me off. it sounded to me like a man trying desperately to cling to the wrong elements of what was left of his career...trying to give the label something that they could pitch to radio that would fit in with the rest of the dreck they were playing. i felt abandoned. i felt as though i'd been in this with him, for the long haul, and that myself and the rest of his longtime fans deserved better than this horseshit.

when the entire album had played through, i ejected the tape, cut the leader, and took it back to the record store for a refund for defective product.

i never bought another new dan fogelberg release after that. not the no resemblance whatsoever record with weisberg, not the christmas album (i've long harbored a belief that christmas records served two purposes and two purposes only - a means to cash in by selling titles to your existing audience, and a means to get airplay during the period from the week before halloween until new years', when it's impossible to get anything without a nod to the "C" word on the radio..), not the second live album, none of it.

when full circle came out, i didn't rush out. i'd gotten accustomed to not rushing out, as i'd done for years before the river of souls debacle. but i had a twinge of optimism...that perhaps he'd learned a valuable lesson from his contemporaries, jackson browne and joni mitchell, and had perhaps considered returning to a sound and style that endeared him to his longtime fans in the first place.

well, the answer was - yes and no.

there were elements of what i'd loved about his music since i was a kid, but something was missing. i couldn't put my finger on it as i stood there at borders with the headphones on, listening for some glimmer of hope within some of the tracks. some of the songs, like reason to run and reach haven postcard, came closest to capturing the spirit of his earlier work, but my personal consensus was that it just felt like too little, too late.

now, though, he was coming to town...to my town...and i was trying to decide whether to go or not. as time had gone by (and one can presume, as many other fans came to feel the same way i did about his career choices), he had gone from playing the mann music center to playing the valley forge music fair, to playing the keswick theatre...and now he was playing in reading, at the rajah theatre. i decided that i wasn't going to base my decision on whether or not to go to the show on the substandard appearance on soundstage, and i'd go ahead and buy tickets when they went on sale.

but then the announcement came that dan was cancelling his fall tour, due to a diagnosis of advanced prostate cancer.

for those of you who don't know, one of the things on the "to do" list before an artist goes on tour is to purchase insurance for the tour. in case a date has to be cancelled, or some other instance of liability comes up, the insurance covers any damages or potential liability that might arise from litigation or anything of that nature. in order for the policy to be issued, though, the artist has to go for a physical in order to get the policy. and when he went for the physical, that's when doctors discovered the cancer.

the face that they put on the news initially made it look as though it was just a setback....that is, until dan's mother margaret spoke to a reporter from the peoria journal-star about his treatment, and painted a more dire picture than official reports had, up to that point. apparently, dan's mother hadn't gotten the memo. the next day, there was a posting on the news section of dan's official website:

DanFogelberg.com wishes to refute portions of an article which was published in the Peoria Journal Star on August 19, as well as other unauthorized reports circulating on the internet which contain gross misinformation and inaccuracies.

From Dan himself: “I wish to correct the misinformation which has circulated since the announcement of my illness. The quotes attributed to my elderly mother not only misrepresent the extent of my illness, but also the treatment involved.

First, let me assure all my fans and friends that ‘the reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated’. I am in no way receiving any experimental treatment at Harvard Medical. My early treatments have proven very effective, so much so that my wife and I have been able to enjoy our annual summer vacation in Maine. We will be returning to treatment on the west coast in the fall. I would again like to express my regret over the cancellation of my fall tour and thank my wonderful fans for all their prayers and heartfelt good wishes. I would also personally like to request that our privacy and the privacy of our families be respected. If there is any news that I wish to make known to the public, it will be posted here or released officially through HK Management.”

there were a couple of things about this that smelled rotten...first of all, what reason would dan's mother have to be dishonest to a reporter? the quote attributed to her in the article was outlined as such:

His mother, Margaret Fogelberg, said the cancer has spread to his bones and that he is being treated at Harvard Medical School . "We're all very hopeful," she said in Thursday's editions of the (Peoria) Journal Star. "But we're also a bit leery."

then, for quite some time, all information and/or news fell silent. for a year. then, almost a year later, the following post appeared on the official site:

August 13, 2005
A personal letter from D.F.

First, let me send everyone some very good news. In our first 14 months of treatment, we have succeeded in slowing the progression of my prostate cancer down to an almost negligible level. Jean and I are thrilled and incredibly relieved and finally feel like we can at last take a breath. While we understand that what we’re dealing with is a long term condition that will have to be dealt with, monitored and treated for probably the rest of my life, we are terribly encouraged to have come so far, so fast. It has certainly been the most trying experience of our lives and yet has proven to be one of the most illuminating as well.

I cannot adequately express my gratitude to all of the thousands of wonderful people who have sent us such incredibly moving and supportive e-mails via the Living Legacy web site. I am quite certain that the love and prayers that have been directed to us from all over the world have had a tangible and potent healing effect. It is truly overwhelming and humbling to realize how many lives my music has touched so deeply all these years. Each one of you who have taken the time and effort to reach out to Jean and I have helped immeasurably to uplift our spirits and keep us looking strongly forward during some very rough moments. I thank you from the very depths of my heart.

I currently have no plans to return to the concert stage or the recording studio in the foreseeable future, but who knows? At least for now, I prefer to keep my options open.

Again my deepest thanks and love to all,


very optimistic on the surface, and i don't doubt for a moment that his sentiments towards his fans and his support system were sincere. but, as this brave face was being put forward, he had also put his house in colorado up for sale, for an asking price of seventeen million dollars, and had commissioned nashville vintage guitar dealer george gruhn to liquidate almost eighty of his personal instruments, including the self-professed "jewel of his collection", his 1957 gretsch white penguin electric guitar.

those two pieces of information, in and of themselves, convinced me that momma fogelberg's comments hadn't been misrepresented. it really was worse than he wanted anyone to think.

news was impossible to come by. the site was stagnant. due to the fact that i'd posted an occasional blog about his illness, i was starting to get emails from news-seekers. i was just as desperate for information as the folks who were googling and stumbling over me were, but i didn't know anymore than they did.

i knew, somehow. i knew that either he was going to recuperate and turn his back on public life altogether, or he was sailing in dire straits...and i was relatively sure that it was the latter....but i didn't want to think about it. wouldn't think about it.

on december 16th, i was playing at stillwaters' in sandusky, ohio with dan may. in the middle of the set, i felt my phone vibrating in my left pocket - i reached down and hit the button on the side of the phone before it actually began to ring, to avoid having it interrupt the set.

it was the last show of our tour - it was at an intimate room, packed with people who had made it out in the midst of a snowstorm to see dan may. it was an acoustic show in a great space, with the atmosphere of a large living room filled with family. dan sang beautifully, and it was far and away the best show of the tour - filled with great moments.

when we'd finished playing, we held court for a while, showed our gratitude to the folks who'd made it out to the show, and got ready to start loading out, when i remembered that my phone rang during the set. i fished it out of my pocket..."1 new voicemail". i played the message back.

"hey, tom, this is michael anthony smith....hope ohio is going well. just wanted to check in and see how you were doing...i don't know if you heard, but dan fogelberg died this morning...."

i didn't hear anything else he said. i went through the rest of the night in a bit of a haze...i kept a lid on my churning gut, as everyone was having a great time and i didn't want to the the guy to bring the crowd down with this. when we got back to the house, i turned on my laptop and confirmed what MAS had left on my voicemail...it was really true. on his website:

"Dan left us on December 16 at 6:00am . He fought a brave battle with cancer and died peacefully at home in Maine with his wife Jean at his side. His strength, dignity, and grace in the face of the daunting challenges of this disease were an inspiration to all who knew him."

later, his wife jean left a short note to his fans on his official site:

"Dear friends, I'm so grateful to all of you who wrote to Dan through The Living Legacy website with your stories of how his music touched your lives; with your uplifting words of encouragement; with your declarations of admiration and friendship.

Dan was a strong and private man, but even the mountain must tremble, and during the toughest times he gained solace and comfort from reading your letters and learning that his music had been a source of light in your lives.

Greatest of all though, was the feeling you gave him that his time here had served a purpose.

I hope you will find some peace in knowing that the joy and comfort you found in his music winged it's way back to him through your words, prayers, and good wishes.

Thank you,
Jean Fogelberg"

in less than five hours, it will have been a month since dan passed away. i started writing this diatribe roughly a week after he died, and in the time since i've re-written it, lost a huge chunk of it in a computer crash, re-read it, decided not to bother doing anything with it, and lastly, talked into finishing it this past sunday night by the very friend who delivered the news to me that night in sandusky. last night and tonight, i've gone over it, read and re-read it, and have decided to go ahead and post it.

this feels like it may well be the most personal thing i've ever posted here...and if you've come here before and read some of the entries, you know that's saying something. something like this runs the risk of coming across as infantile hero worship at best, stalker-like dementia at worst. but honestly, i don't really care how it's perceived right now.

i wish...i WISH...that i could react to this normally. in a way, it doesn't feel like anything's changed to me. he doesn't feel any more "gone" to me now than he did a month, a year ago. i've thought about that, and the only rationale i can come up with for that is the fact that the enigma that always kept him from being human to me is still intact...intact to the point that someone telling me that dan fogelberg is dead is strangely akin to telling me that superman or santa claus is dead. even when his music didn't connect with me the way it did in those early years, that alone wasn't enough to knock him off the pedestal that i'd put him on as a teenager. even during his misadventures, he was still Dan Fucking Fogelberg. the fact that he was a victim of his own seclusion after all those years of living life either up on the mountain in pagosa springs or out on the island in deer isle, maine...that didn't change the fact that he was a musical badass giant. and it certainly didn't erase any of the rings in the middle of the tree that he was responsible for.

"when faced with the past, the strongest man cries...."

i know it's been said over and over, by thousands of people, in the past three years, in ways that are pertinent to their own lives and experiences. i need to say it for myself.

thank you. thanks for being my lighthouse. for the inspiration, for the unintended guidance, for the body of work that you passed along to me and left behind.

for the rings in the tree that changed my life, i owe you more than i could put into words.

"...and if you ever hear me calling out
and if you've been by paupers crowned
between the worlds of men and make believe, i can be found...."


the dictionary definition

from dictionary.com:

testicle (těs'tĭ-kəl), NOUN:
Either of the testes of a male mammal together with the scrotum that contains it.
[Middle English testicule, from Latin testiculus, diminutive of testis, testis; see testis.]

SEE ALSO: george bush ordering a former subordinate not to honor a congressional subpoena to save his own cowardly ass.

balls, indeed.

we should all be so very proud of ourselves.


damage control....

in an article posted today on reuters canada, canadian goddess chantal kreviazuk went out of her way to apologize for the tone of her remarks about the songwriting...uh, skills of fellow canadian jailbait masturbatory fantasy fodder chick avril lavigne...

"My statements and any inference from my statements, which call into question Avril's ethics or ability as a respected and acclaimed songwriter, should be disregarded and are retracted. Avril is an accomplished songwriter and it has been my privilege to work with her."

classy piece of ass that she is, lavigne (spouse of sum41 retard and babydaddy deryck whibley), shot back with:

"Chantal's comments are damaging to my reputation and a clear defamation of my character and I am considering taking legal action."


chantal's comments could never be more damaging to your reputation than, say, your music...if you choose to so call it that. she could wear an "avril sucks" t-shirt for every public appearance for the next twenty years, and it could never do the damage to your perception as an artist that a piece of shit song like "sk8er boi" has already done.

so have your indignant day in the sun, pout if you must. the world, as a whole, knew you sucked before chantal ever opened her mouth...and the responsibility for that goes to you, not her.

only thing i can't figure out is why she ever agreed to write with you in the first place....


coming soon....

i'll be back.

completely new site, new blogs, new pictures, new new new new.

it's been a total pain in the ass...and maybe it's worth it, maybe not...you can be the judge.


the enigma onion

now playing: ben arnold, "house of cards"

i know i went on one of these extended blogging sabbaticals once before, and i remember saying at that time that when you're gone for this long, there's not much point in trying to explain or summarize where you've been. in fact, i wonder if most of the folks who actually used to drop in here haven't moved on to other, less fruitless pursuits...

well, let's just say that i've been busy.

i spent most of these last few months working, frankly. i mean, there have been other things going on (which we'll discuss), but my day job has been monopolizing my time for some months now. there were a couple of timecards that i turned in that had over ninety hours on them. for the math-deficient, that's two weeks' worth of hours in one week. more than that, actually, if you're a "straight forty" kinda person. i'm putting that behind me now, though - both of the projects that were mandating that to be necessary are, by and large, done now - we did a novell groupwise to microsoft exchange upgrade that required that i not only migrate every users' email from one account to the other, but to actually go to each machine and set up the new programs...the migrations alone were a pain in the ass, some of them taking up to three hours per user, depending on whether they'd ever deleted an email during the entire course of their careers. some of these people had over seven gigabytes of email archives that had to be migrated...and you just know that well over half of that is crap. garbage. but you can't tell them that - our corporate culture breeds paranoia like no other, and these people are scared to death that someone is gonna come back and try to tell them that they said something that they didn't, or vice versa, that they keep everything they get.

the other big thing was finally replacing our old, outdated UNIX system with a newer, windows/SQL based manufacturing software package. we "went live" on it earlier this month, and so far it seems to be settling in - the system certainly has its detractors, but there are those who would profess their disdain for whatever we got, even if they got to personally pick it.

now, in the middle of all this, i was helping my friend grace grantham get a nonprofit off the ground for her father, running the eBay auctions and putting the website together...until it became patently clear to me that i was doing them a disservice by not being able to commit the necessary time to it that i had hoped to be able to...it was really important to me to be able to do a good job, and when it became obvious that i wasn't going to be able to do what i had hoped, i turned over the reins. there were a couple of folks involved who were a lot more motivated than i was able to be, so it didn't seem to be much of a loss, thankfully.

the other major project this summer has been The Steelyard - that's what we ultimately ended up naming it. it's all but done now - we had an open house this past weekend and invited friends and family up to check it out, and it was quite the success - the thing i found funny was that the two things that got the most attention were things that i built from scratch - the producers' desk in the control room and the "guitar wall" cabinet/storage unit that runs the length of one wall in the live room.

i have to admit that the guitar wall does look impressive, even if i do say so myself. there is, though, the awkward moment when i have to tell people that no, that's not all of them, just the ones that'll be used the most...and then the odd looks you get after revealing in a roundabout way that you have a sickness that isn't really accepted as such by the world at large, this whole guitar addiction thing.... but i think (and there are those close to me who will back me up) that i've got it pretty well under control at this point. i mean, there are still a few things that i'd like to pick up at some point, but none of them have really presented themselves yet.

well, actually, one of them did.

my good friends boris garcia just recently celebrated the release of their second record, mothers' finest, at the world cafe in philadelphia. i played lap steel on the record, and they invited me to come play with them at the show as well. it turned out to be serendipitous, as ben arnold was opening, and i got to play with both of them (i've been taking on the occasional gig in bens' band these past couple of months...i know, i know - don't have enough to do...).

anyway, i went to bob stirners' house (longtime readers will recognize that name) to rehearse for the show, and bob gave me his sho-bud pedal steel on "long-term loan" - he said that he didn't think he'd ever use it, but that he wasn't ready to sell it or give it away just yet, because "you just never know". and certainly, i respect that - i was just happy to have it, honestly. so, he said to me as we assembled it and got it ready to travel, "just be ready to play it saturday night".

be careful what you wish for.

i took it home and set it up in the dining room and fired up my laptop and began looking up information on the internet - i found a diagram of the E9 chromatic tuning for 10 string pedal steels, and the corrresponding pedals and how they were set up, what they were supposed to change and how to tune it, et cetera....the first thing i noticed was that four of the strings in the center of the guitar were tuned to the E major triad that i use for lap steel (E, B, G#), and two of the pedals did the same things that i'd been using the ring finger on my left hand to accomplish all this time...bending the B up to a C#, and bending the G# to an A for a suspended fourth chord. i sat there for a while - i don't know how long, specifically - playing and experimenting with the pedals and the knee lever, trying to get a bead on this thing...and that night, i figured out a couple dozen various licks and made up my mind that i was going to take this thing with me on saturday night, and that i'd play it if it killed me.

i spent an hour or so on friday night as well running through the song i was to play and a few other things on it, just getting the hang of the strings (going from having six strings under your right hand to having ten under there is quite an adjustment). and sure enough, i took it with me to world cafe live on saturday night.

as i had mentioned before, i was playing with both ben and the band - and ben chose to close his set with "tupelo honey", and i figured that song was as good as any to jump behind this thing. the one thing that i would've done differently, in retrospect, would have been to practice with the volume pedal while i was finding my way. it took me a little while to get the hang of the volume pedal - not because i wasn't accustomed to the pedal itself, but because the pedal sat right underneath my foot as opposed to being out in front of me as it is when i play lap steel...and because my other foot and the knee on my volume pedal foot were busy doing other things, and it was something else to have to coordinate. but the good news was that it took me precious little time to acclimate to it....i was pretty comfortable with it in its new spot well before the end of the song. plus, i had gotten to play it during soundcheck, and i think i'd gotten most of the acclimation out of my blood before we started. i did make a couple of clunkers, but i could count them on my nostrils...and i wasn't exactly swinging for the bleachers, either...i stuck to the safe licks - the ones that i knew, the ones that i had translated pretty easily from lap steel - and they got me through the night.

now, i've loved this instrument for years - going back to when i was a kid. there's nothing else (not even my beloved lap steel, the instrument of several of my heroes) that sounds like it when it's played properly. properly.

so i thought about it for a while, and decided that i'm not going to approach this instrument the same way i've approached everything else that i've learned to play - by getting a basic grip on it and figuring out the rest of it by whatever means i could. this time, i thought, might be my last chance to jump completely into something with both feet that's totally foreign to me. this is the instrument that's going to force me to learn some things that i've been able to sidestep for years now....if i actually bother to study it properly.

so with that in mind, i called my friend bruce heffner - he runs a pedal steel shop in hamburg where he gives lessons and the like, and he's a hell of a player as well. i told him what i'd done, and asked him a few questions...his responses were great, too. when i told him that i couldn't figure out what the deal was with those top two strings, he laughed...."aaaaAAAAAH! they're not in order, are they?"

so bruce and i talked for almost an hour, and i scheduled my first EVER music lesson, to take place at his shop at 9AM on a saturday morning.

yes, you read me right. on both counts.

my first EVER music lesson...AND -

9AM on saturday morning. no, not PM....AM.

and yes, i got my ass out of bed, and yes, i was there at 9AM.

and yes, i felt like an asshole, trying to play this monster in front of a seasoned pro.

see, here's the thing.

i've been able to bluff my way through a lot of stuff in my day. i've always done what other people who've been successful have told me in confidence that they've always done, which is never admit that you can't do it. johnny sambatora from dave mason's band was the most recent - when he told me about a session where they needed a mandolin for a track, and he jumped in and said he'd handle it, only to tune the mandolin like a guitar and lay it down, with no one else the wiser.

i feel like that one instance has been a metaphor for my whole career. irish music? hell, yeah, no problem! bass guitar in a country band? bring it on! drums? banjo? bouzouki? dulcimer? yep, i'm your guy. pit musician for a theatre production? classical guitarist? organist for a church wedding? covers for a stripper-infested bachelor party? pianist at a cocktail bar?

i've done all of these things. i'm not proud of some of them, but i've done it nonetheless.

and thankfully, i've had enough of a basis in whatever i've tried to do that (for the most part) i've been able to pull it off. there have been a couple of humiliating exceptions, but they've been relegated to the file in the bottom drawer that i don't allow myself to read very often. now, certainly, you can attribute this to my considerable musical prowess and my ever-growing genius, but i'm here to tell ya - there've been quite a few situations that i've found myself in that i've faked my way through and somehow managed to land on my feet.

now, certainly, if you do that enough, you'll amass some sort of technique and you'll gain a lot of experience that can be applied to other instruments, or even across the board (especially where some of the life lessons that are exclusive to music are concerned)....but i've often - hell, damn near always - felt like a fraud in the company of what i perceive to be the "legit" guys. you know - the sight readers, the ones who show up at rehearsals with notation in hand, neatly written out and impeccably rehearsed. the ones with the perfect gear and the envy-inspiring resume who talk about what a "hoot" it was working with (insert name of latest boss here) and how they can't wait for the summer season to kick in so they can get back out with (insert name of potentially fictitious new boss here) and so on and so forth...while you stand there with your trusty korean goldtop 'round your neck with the randomly perceptible aroma of stale cigarette smoke emanating from your roadworn fender twin that stands beside you, awaiting your order.

so, if you haven't gotten the gist of what i'm saying here, there have been no shortage of times in my life that i've felt like i was fooling everybody - that i had just enough ability to pull the wool over everyones' eyes and get through whatever it was that i was working on. i remember sitting at the piano at a restaurant in harrisburg, pennsylvania and just making shit up - just playing whatever fragmented chord patterns rumbled through my head - and they actually asked me back! was that a result of some inner genius on my part, or a total lack of standards on theirs? a mixture of both?

anyway, the point i think i'm trying to make is that i think that pedal steel is the last frontier, for me. i think it represents the one final opportunity i have to gain some of the knowledge that has stood between me and my own perception of legitimacy for years now. theory, chord structure, harmonic concepts, and the like - i have some basic, essential knowledge of them but not nearly as much as someone should have to do some of the work that i do. and i feel like it's time for me to break down some of the mystique that surrounds these things.

i know that i've talked often of the enigma that surrounded music when i first became immersed in it, and how that enigma has slowly melted away over the years as i've gotten more and more experience as a musician and i've learned more about it. i think that this particular adventure might represent the peeling back of the last true layer of that enigma, and that once i school myself in some of these principles that i might never really listen to music in the same way again. i don't really know if i've been ok with that up until this point.

at this point, i think it's imperative that i pull back that last layer if i want to grow any further than i have up to this point.


relief in sight

now playing: jackson browne, "sky blue and black"

it's an unfair truth that as you get older, time passes with a ferocity that youth belies.

lately, i'm finding it hard to just keep a grip on the handles...sometimes it feels like the wheel is spinning just fast enough to toss me through the air and abruptly onto the dirt. but the truth is, it's my own legs that are propelling the wheel to go faster and faster.

why? greed, i guess. not material greed, or greed in the traditional sense...i'm not racing to acquire material things or accumulate wealth (God knows). it's not that i want it all, i want to do it all. and on my good days, i come pretty damn close. days fly by, a flurry of activity - day job, studio, music-related activities, wife and kids, the ringing phone, be here, get there by this time so you can leave by that time to be somewhere else - now, it should obviously be said that some days are more demanding than others...but i seem to thrive on this.

and - as i get older, and face the realization that this can't really go on forever, it's as if i feel this need to do as much as i can, while i can, before the prospect of doing it becomes a less attractive proposition than it is at the moment. i don't hear this mythical tick of the clock or anything of that nature, but i have made peace with the notion that there's probably an expiration date of some sort...some point at which it won't be feasible for me to keep up the pace that i've kept for as long as i can remember now.

in fact, my partner blake often tells me that just listening to me reel off my itinerary over the phone makes him tired.

and it's often people like blake who i end up envying, to a certain extent, when my life drifts to the extreme end of the scale...as it seems to have done lately.

sure, there are those who would say that i live perpetually at the far end of the speedometer, but the truth is that my life isn't always as pedal-to-the-floor as it probably looks. lately, though, it's probably much more so than it could potentially appear.

three straight weeks of sixty-plus hours at work. trips to jim thorpe, to atlantic city, to washington DC, to philadelphia, to wherever - on an accelerated basis. things that should be a matter of routine maintenance - paying bills, doing laundry and such - are only dealt with in fits and starts when either a few moments allow or when they mutate into fires that have to be put out. then things pile up and everything becomes a fire that has to be put out, which leads life itself down a feast-or-famine road. this much, i can at least say, is usually seasonal, and passes once things calm down a bit and go back to whatever you could feasibly call a "routine" for me. in the meantime, though, life feels like a constant game of "catch up".

for instance, last week, i was rooting through the mail that sits in an ever-growing pile by the door, looking for something totally unrelated and a lot less important, and noticed that i had two envelopes from my car insurance company that were pretty close together. on a whim, i opened one of them to see that it contained a cancellation, dated two days prior, for failure to pay my premium. it wasn't that i didn't have the money, i just completely forgot about it. i went online with my debit card and took care of it and everything was fine, but the larger point for me is that i know that other people don't simply forget to pay their insurance bills. but it didn't even occur to me. i can blame part of this on my poor handling of finances that's been a learned trait that i have to work on unlearning, but i mean, come on - who just forgets to pay their bills when they actually have the means to deal with them, and aren't just forgetting out of financial convienence?

and it's not just the insurance, either...there are a couple of other things that i've been glossing over or just putting off that i've got to get sewn up this week, period. to include the paying of other bills. i have the first batch of items to ship out for georges' auction, and i have to take pictures of the rest of the stuff that i'm putting up this week. i have to start the wiring in the studio in the next couple of days, because the drywall is going up before you know it...now that the HVAC has actually been done. the bathroom has been drywalled, and we're actually going to paint it within the next few days. things are about to jump into the fastlane with the studio, and as things get closer to being finished, it's going to become more and more incumbent upon me to be involved with the decisions that are being made, as the rooms take shape and we actually have to start thinking about acoustic considerations and putting together the control room and the like. it's been contractor-centric up to this point - soon i have to take the reins and prep the rooms properly and such...

now, in addition to all this, i have a backlog of projects that will move to the forefront as the studio becomes operable - the as-yet unfinished poco benefit/tribute album, and the unfinished album by the amazing larry burnett, which is sitting demurely, disguised as a half-dozen ADAT tapes in my house at the moment.

now, anyone who knows me for any length of time should be somewhat taken aback by that. if you're familiar with the inner rings of my musical tree at all, then you're probably scratching your head, wondering why i wasn't rifling through storage and pulling out the ADAT machines and the PC with the Frontier card in it the night i got home with those tapes in the car.

frankly, i'm not sure why i didn't go get them that night, myself, save for the fact that i was pretty tired from the trip, and couldn't even bring myself to head to the Dawson or up to harrisburg for my friend mikes' radio show. we went to cracker barrel and sat and stared at each other for a while and floated home to bed.

in the time since, i've worked (as i mentioned) three straight weeks for over sixty hours, and feel as though my life is being taken over by churning out refurbished PC's for users with outdated operating systems and doing Outlook migrations....

monday morning, i came in to work to a perpetually restarting Groupwise server that eventually decided it wasn't going to boot up anymore...at all. the power supply had utterly failed, and it simply wasn't going to turn on anymore.

it should be noted that this machine was old when i got here, six years ago, and i seriously thought that it wasn't about to come up again. i called around, though, and found that there were two power supplies for this particular model of compaq proliant server sitting in a warehouse in springfield, VA.

"i'll take 'em," i told the guy on the phone, "and if i can't find a courier, i'll come get 'em myself."

i made a couple of phone calls...four different services, of which three said they only served the DC metro area, and one that couldn't guarantee that they'd have it here if they didn't pick it up before noon - which had already passed.

so off i went.

i called jayda and said, "remember how you complain sometimes about how we never go on drives anymore?"

i told her to tell her brother to get ready if he wanted to come, too, but when i got to the house, he was sitting at the kitchen table in his underwear.

guess that'd be a no, then.

so we took off, made it into springfield in time to pick the power supplies up at a little past 4:30pm, and i called larry up...we stopped over to say hello (since it wouldn't have been right to drive right by the exit and be within ten minutes of him and not at least swing by) and jayda and i had a couple of sandwiches from subway and chatted with him for a while before taking off in a northerly direction again.

it was around ten PM when i got back to work with the parts and set about getting the email server back up and running. by 10:30, email was synchronized and flowing again...and then there was my own end-of-day stuff that i had to finish before midnight...

so monday night was another sixteen hour affair that saw me put 380 miles under my belt and get almost nothing done in the normal line of duty.

but the true irony in all this is that monday night was the earliest i got out of there until late in the week.

and still, those ADAT tapes are sitting, staring me down, wondering why i'm not all over them...which i'd certainly be under just about any other circumstances.

think about that for a minute.

the tapes that represent the first full studio album in over two decades by one of my personal musical heroes are sitting on a dresser in my house.

does it bear repeating? very well, then.

the tapes that represent the first full studio album in over two decades by one of my personal musical heroes are sitting on a dresser in my house.

never mind the overlooked insurance bill, or any number of other things i could mention.....

if i haven't acted on that, then it's relatively certain that my life is a little out of control at the moment.

(footnote: it's now friday night/saturday morning, a little before 3AM. according to my calculations, i've logged 67 hours at work this week, and that's with having taken the entire morning off today. it's not getting better, it's getting worse...but i keep myself going by telling myself that there's an end in sight. and i really do believe that. at some point, this has to get easier, and my time has to loosen up a bit. because i think that i've finally hit that point where it truly can't get any worse...the number of hours contained in a day simply won't allow for that.)