I’m sure you’ve heard all the stories of what it’s really like to be out on the road, and the many crazy and wild antics that can accompany such a journey. The truth is that at least when I was out a lot touring, it was all I could do to keep it together, and stay sane out there! It’s no easy task, because so many of the people you have to work with and see on a daily basis are busy either being crazy them selves, or are trying to hold it together for themselves!
I’ve done all kinds of tours of course, and sleeping on the floor of a cold van was almost as familiar to me as being in a 5-star hotel, but it’s the kind of contact, or lack thereof that you are having with your fellow players that really makes all the difference. Of course, on a tour as big as the Simon and Garfunkel world tour, we all were afforded real luxury, our own rooms, catered dinners every night, you name it, but some of us players still had the time to develop friendships, or hatred for each other!! Most handled it like the real pros that they were, and were able to keep things on an even keel. I guess the craziest tours I’ve been on were of the mid-size variety, where we had the bus, the crew, just a couple of road manager types, and of course, a relatively small band. These kinds of tours can really get nuts because no matter what happens, we are all basically going through it together. This also means that whatever “mania” one of us may display, it’s going to have a rather profound effect on the entire group of people.
I always found it very important, as well as useful to see as much in any new area or town we were in as possible. And that didn’t mean only hanging out in bars, or going to see other bands play, which is good, but never really interested me that much. It’s more like seeing museums, ballgames, antique shops, cool restaurants and anything else that would really leave me with a true sense of the place I could take away with me. It used to amaze some of the folks I’d be with, and always won big points with the locals who may be with us, seeing that I wasn’t treating it like “just another town”. I can remember the liaison in Pittsburg being very impressed that I went out in a blizzard to see a painting at the Carnegie Museum that my Dad had always wanted to see, so I could report back to him about it! Or the time I was in Davenport, Iowa, and found myself buying an old “stadium” coat from the 1920’s in a Salvation Army thrift shop! These are the kinds of things that not only kept me “sane” on the road, but that truly stimulated me and left me with a striking impression of where I had just been.
So, if you ever decide to go on the road, and start to embark on that kind of life, please keep in mind that everywhere you go it should be interesting and fascinating to you. No two places are the same, and there is truly something “redeeming” about wherever you may find yourself. And anyway, in the long run, it just may help you “keep it together” on that long, difficult tour you may find yourself on! More on this subject in future blogs!