Monday. Arrive in Moscow. Exit the airport. Breathe again. Notice as you board your bus, Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter-dubbed-fastest-person-ever is passing you on his way into the terminal. He is tall and moves slow with a long gait and swagger. A kind of statement-walk that says, I’m in no hurry. I decide in that moment I am also in no hurry. But that I lack swagger.
Tuesday August 20th: Showtime Moscow. 9-11pm. It kicks ass. A sweaty club-show that felt like old times. Like Minneapolis in our hey day. It’s a huge departure from the separation arenas and festivals create between audience and band. The crowd bombards the stage with heat seeking paper airplanes during Plane. I am lit up. We get back to the hotel by midnight, still ablaze with energy. I draw a bath. Soak. and Skype home to simulate the effect of being near. With a little more than an hour’s rest, we check-out at 330am and board a sketchy van with a scary driver who refuses to drive until all of our hand-bags are in the trunk. Red neon lights from a worn-out casino illuminate the scene. Our driver is grumpy. We don’t understand him, but figure it out what we wants by playing an irritating version of charades. Then we let him drive us for more than an hour. It feels like a dream but it is not a dream. I give myself up to my ambivalent-higher-power and do my best to relax as he and many other cars create their own rules and limits for the road. We have begun our commute to Poland. It is still dark, but it is already another show day. We get our boarding-passes and body-scans and connect through Berlin. This gives us two flights to accumulate sleep credits. For the crew, this is all they’ll get as they forever remain the first to arrive and the last to leave. I read on the plane a news story about a young banker who dies from working too many all-nighters; a reportedly 72 hour shift. I am concerned for my crew’s well-being and wonder if I am a tyrant of a lesser-degree. I’m too delirious to pass good judgment, so like tackling many of the world’s problems, I decide to put it off and address it later.
Wednesday August 21st: Continuation of travel day/show day Warsaw, Poland. I forget what I wanted to address and steal a 3-hour nap at a hotel before proceeding to venue for sound-check and interviews. Mona and I tip-toe over a few new songs while I impose ancient titles on her. The gig is reminiscent of the old days, but it stings like a new day. There are struggles, small losses and barely visible victories, which is what the early days were about: gigging to find yourself. I am happy it still exists and haven’t given in entirely to a script. I even manage to slip into a musical-meditation a few times during the show, but transcendence through any activity is tough to maintain. My sweat-soaked shirt reminds me I’m working. I decide I have no style.
Occasionally my mind starts asking my mouth what it’s talking about. Duality is alive and well within my vessel. I must’ve been hired take them somewhere. I feel my attitude changing. I feel my age. My dream to sing & be financially sound is disillusioned by time-travel, out-of-date narcissism, industry politics, and getting what you wish for. I drift off in song and fantasize about my next life set to classical music in a not-too-distant future, where perhaps I’ve retired from the hustle and grind, taken some cooking classes, maybe a woodworking or engine-building class, maybe have a yoga teaching certificate, more cats, have grown a beard, have grown some balls, and are trying to figure out what to do with my foundation. We blow through 2 hours of music with little break. Whether lost in meditation or contemplation. I decide it was a fun gig. I also decide to recommit to Emerson’s description of success:
To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure betrayal of false friends; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a happy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
– Taken from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Bestselling Audio-book, Brilliant Shit Too Long to Tweet.
Thursday August 22nd: We’re allowed to sleep-in and squeeze-in a look-around old-town Warsaw. It’s quaint. It’s scarred. But it’s welcoming. Its buildings wear old clothes; pre and post-war. Warsaw is still recovering, but it could very soon pass as another fantastical suburb of Disneyland. Ice cream is for sale everywhere! Moscow on the other hand, I would reduced to just being the It’s-A-Small-World ride, but without the peace, love and tolerance. The Polish are very nice and the young people are steadily pushing the country along with modern freedoms and participation. Making up for lost time. I cross paths with other journeymen in the square. We take a few minutes and exchange hugs, FAQ’s, and photographs. One remarkably nervous young man tells me how he hitchhiked 2000 miles from France to attend last night’s show. I can’t imagine what that’s like. I decide I’m spoiled.
By midday we leave for the airport again. Passport control gives a thorough examination of my document with a look of confusion, no doubt caused by the zig-zag and spontaneity of my route. Today I am off to Thailand. But not without doing a phone interview at the airport. And two more phoners while connecting through London. I decide I loathe interviews. Any question pertaining to music or performance is a suggestion that art is finite and can actually be explained. I feel foolish whenever I try, no matter how close to the heart I may manage a quip.
We fly 11 hours to Bangkok. I watch a documentary on the band Journey. I decide I am a Journey fan.
Friday August 23rd: Thailand Sound-Check Day: We walk right off the plane into a press conference in the airport. I am groggy and somewhat dehydrated. I feel like an ass. I must look like an ass. I’m certain I smell like ass. I pray my many passages through duty-free have provided a cheap-fragrant cover. I am greeted by two very tall Thai models who adorn me with a flower garland. I smell better. I bow in reverence for the opportunity to be here and say a few confused words into a bouquet of microphones. We drive straight to the venue to load-in for the next big bang. It’s pouring. Some trucks on the freeway haul labor-workers in the back of their pick-ups. They are exposed to the elements. It’s pouring. I go soft in my Volvo, which is hardly an inconvenience. I second the motion that I am spoiled.
Upon arrival my backpack is leaking. What healthy-pond-scum concoction I had is now soaked into literature, notebook and camera. I fantasize more about retirement and breathe into the accident. I want to be sad about the spill, but there’s no point. My team shows me pity, but they’re on an even tighter schedule, with duties that require the use of brain and brawn. I have no room to complain.
Our hosts have prepared the dressing room with fresh Thai coconuts which, rich in magnesium, elevates my mood. Gravity pulls my shoulders down and I let out a long stupid laugh, redirecting the rant in my head onto the keys of the laptop. Ten fingers tap dancing, taking out the trash.
On the late night drive to our hotel, my mind drifts out of the window, present to distance traveled, but generally unfazed that Bangkok is today’s landscape. I decide I am jaded.
I also decide long-term-use suitcases should be called Nut-cases. Cold sores are most-likely triggered by lack of sleep, processed food, and not wanting one. Magic 8 balls are perfectly reliable oracles of wisdom. I will forever be 3 minutes late to lobby call. And just like a phone company programs bugs into phones before unveiling the new model, eye glasses seem to smudge all by themselves.
It’s now Saturday August 24th and it arrives with a promise of rejuvenation. I will abuse my snooze alarm. I will practice music and yoga. I will prepare. I will treat myself to an authentic Thai massage before returning to Impact Arena to squeeze every bit of my being through the slimy-narrow-folds in my throat. I have no doubt I’ll be buzzing again after the show. High on the whole experience, and happy to be here.
I decide this tour is but one song in a wonderfully long dance.
And I decide it’s my favorite.