In the beginning, there was a boy. He was reckless, head strong, obstinate, angry and fearless. There were few things the boy would not do that came into his mind. He had an energy that never ceased and an obvious affect on others. Not always good, but it was there.
Of course, that boy was me. I knew from about the age 3 or 4 that I loved "acting out". I also knew that I loved music. Some of my earliest memories are of the music my dad listened to or played himself. Then there was Elvis and Jackson. The majesty of his performance and the sway he held when doing so. Elvis and michael greatly influenced my little boy self. Of course it grew with time I wasn't 3 and analyzing the context of the craft.
When I was 4ish I started paying more attention to the music my father listened to. He loved BB king and muddy waters and Clapton etc. The thing I remember most about that was the soul of it. Just like the blues my dad would play late at night it felt alive with emotion. I think there was a touch of that in Elvis and Jackson too. But not at all the same though.
It still wasn't enough for me. I'm not going to pretend that I would sit up late listening to the heart of america with my daddy sippin tea and gaining insights on the soul of man. I'm just sayin I remember the way it felt. I needed something harder though. It would be years before I started to hear my heart. I was an angry little man and I needed more edge than slow, heartrenchin, blues. He showed me Mr. Chuck Berry and somethin clicked. That same year a little movie called back to the future came out and I of course recognized and double loved the song for the movie or the movie for the song (depends).
Between 4 and 5 I listened to all I could. I was like, "I"m gonna be a FUCKIN ROCKSTAR!" It seemed set. I wanted to play guitar, and drums, and saxophone, and sing, and write songs, and be famous! Done. Game, set, MATCH!
I didn't have it all figured out of course. But I sure freakin thought I did. I should have started school that year in lil ole Rock Hall MD, but we moved. My dad needed better work. He already had 3 of us by 86' and there was one on the way. A better future awaited in Hanover PA. So rather than starting school we headed to a brave new world. PA having different school rules and requirements as it does, had me wait one more school year to start school. Which had me turning 6 by the end of the 1st qtr.
I was the "fairly" average troubled youth. 100s of detentions, lots of mini ones and sometimes out of school. Fights, arrests, blah blah blah. And all that fun started in kindergarten. Lucky for me the paddle was declared unfair and inappropriate literally beginning the year I did. That was truly, truly, great luck.
However that troubled path has nothing to do with this blog yet. My first taste of the stage came that first year of school in PA. Our little town and I do mean little, was about 4 square miles. That is a fact I did not learn until google maps many many years later. (I always counted areas that were apparently not Hanover, anyway) As it seems many little towns do, we had talent shows and lip syncs and all kinds of good community stuff. I know a LOT of schools do it but I don't know if everybody does.
I knew this was my chance. I would do a chuck berry song and I would blow peoples minds. Then they would know how awesome I was and everything would be set for life. That was the idea.
I told my parents I wanted to do it. They said fine. I told them I wanted to do "johnny be goode" of course. And they said cool. I had it all planned out man. I practiced and practiced and I was sooooooo ready.
Then came time for audition. Things were a little different when I was younger. For example; I was recently helping my own niece (a beautiful thing) with her school talent show. When we first sat down to practice I began discussing with her the idea of impressing the judges. Making sure that they are the focus but that you also work the crowd. Ya know, giving her my years of knowledge in a nutshell.
She stops me right off, "There aren't any judges".
"what do you mean?
"I mean its not a contest. There are no judges."
"Oh?! So anybody can join and do anything and nobody loses?"
Things didn't used to be that way. The crowd and the judges liked you (or you were in someones pocket) or you sucked and left. That was it. I'm glad that we offer up all this encouragement these days. But without failure how the fuck do people learn from their mistakes. I personally made tons of em. And I'm thankful cause they made me who I am.
I guess there'll just have to be a whole new gambit of trials for this modern generation.
Anyway. We had to try because you failed if you didn't. Shit, sometimes you failed if you did.
The day came to take the stage and I was so excited. I was there to shine. To do my part and make a spectacle of myself. I waited patiently as the handful of kids went before doin their little song and dance routines. I waited for the moment. Then it was upon me. I walked out on the stage, under the spot light, before my "peers" and the "judges" and I straight up shit the bed.
I mean I could barely move. I didn't actually crap in my pants. But hell I wasn't far from it! While the wild sounds of johnny be goode played across the empty stage I barely found the strenght to gentley sway back and forth in place. I truly don't believe I moved either one of my feet to be honest. I don't even know for sure that I moved my head. I did move my lips though. There was no way in hell I moved them to the words or even to the proper timing of the song but I know I moved em. Like how a drunk mumbles about whatever the hell they're thinkin at any given moment. That was me. Lip-syncing drunken mumble lyrics, with no actual sound coming through my lips, while gentley swaying back and forth in place liken to a child holding a hot piss.
So, believe it or not in that time of judges I did not get chosen to compete. Was it because I didn't practice? (no) Was it because I didn't know the material? (no) Was it because I didn't try? (no) Its because life is a bitch and sometimes you shit the bed. I got filled with fear and anxiety and soaked up all my worries and doubt. I froze. But I tell you what . It wasn't like that the following year in first grade. Oh no!