If you’re going through Hell, keep going
Sometimes you just know. I mean you feel it in your bones, in your soul, in your heart and even though it’s there, it can be hard to pry it out when the shit is constantly hitting the fan. Over the last few years, even while I was working for NGL, I spent a lot of time traveling around West Texas, Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota, several states on the East Coast and then through Washington state. I met a countless amount of people during that time, getting to know all kinds of diversity from all walks of life.
The topic of conversation was, for the most part, work related and my helping to take care of their needs as their field IT technician. In many cases, I’d have to be at sites for a few hours at a time or even all day. Invariably, when the conversation turned more personal and I would get asked what I did before this job, I would tell them that I was a full time touring country musician, the tone would immediately change, as would my energy while I was talking and reminiscing about all of the things I did when I was out there. And since the majority of the people I talked to on the job sites were in their late teens/early 20’s, when I said that I was on Spotify, it was like they felt like they were in the presence of someone famous. It was always a great ego boost because, to the majority of the younger music listeners out there, Spotify is where your music is if you’re truly successful and well-known, even if it really isn’t all that hard to get on that platform. Be that as it may, I never missed a chance to enjoy retelling all the stories to the guys that were out there, in most cases, by themselves with no one to talk to during their 12 hour shifts but tanker drivers and traveling IT technicians. One younger guy out in West Texas even asked me to autograph his hard hat, having heard of me and was even a fan.
It was during those times, which I never grew tired of, that I joked that I was living vicariously through myself. The job, while having its perks, wasn’t something that I aspired to do as a career, even though I was good at it and enjoyed the people. Working in the IT industry over the years was only something for me to do to keep my musical aspirations going. But once I arrived at NGL and was making a good salary with benefits, it seemed to me that those days were likely over, and I would spend my remaining years feeling like the door had closed, despite every single time talking about being in music and always fondly remembering the best days of my life. And you could see my energy change during the entire conversation - I would light up like a Christmas tree when I started talking about all those cool memories with friends and co-workers.
I remember very specifically a conversation with one of my friends there who was a Texas Country music fan, and loved hearing all of my stories and revealing to others when we were out at a bar somewhere or at the company Christmas party 2 years ago. A few days later we were all flying over to Wyoming on the company plane, and Eli and I began talking about our pie in the sky dreams and what you’d really want to be doing if you could do anything. When he asked me about mine, I took a long pause in thinking about it because it wasn’t until that moment that I realized that I no longer had one. My pie in the sky was always performing in front of a crowd traveling around the world and being able to sing for people. So when I told him I no longer really had one that didn’t involve music in some way, I didn’t know how to answer the question anymore. It really bothered me to feel like I no longer had a goal or a dream in mind, and that I had essentially surrendered my entire life to a job that would eventually be letting me go in a matter of months. That was one of the bigger reasons why I was so crushed by losing it that day - everything I did for so many people and the sacrifices I made to work as hard as I could, and then being dismissed so callously struck a very painful blow that I, only recently, have been able to start getting over.
That was, until yesterday happened.
I went in to work for a few hours and since I was only there with 1 other coworker, I spent my time doing my job and listening to a podcast hosted by Jack Ingram as he interviewed Wade Bowen, 2 guys I’ve met a few times over the years and have a tremendous amount of respect for. I would highly encourage any fan of either of these two artists to give it a listen because, over the course of the 2+ hour interview, Wade went into depth about a lot of personal things that I related to, and really made me think long and hard about what it’s going to take in the next step in my musical journey. As I was listening to the podcast, my manager Roy texted me to let me know he and his wife April would be coming into town to see my old friend and fellow roster artist Aaron Navarro play a gig at Unbarlieveable downtown.
I was in relaxed work mode, but decided to run home and clean up before the 2 pm gig and get into ‘artist mode’, which I’m very glad I did. Throughout the course of the gig, Aaron brought me up to sing 3 different times, and after the 1st song, this mostly college aged crowd of people were cheering, screaming and getting into me singing ‘Killin’ Time’ by Clint Black - a reaction I did not expect from mostly guys who were watching the football game. When I went back to sit with Roy and April, several people came up to me to give me props and fist bumps on the performance. It was like being back in my element again, and the energy that I had been missing for so long immediately returned. The crowd, which had surprised me by their reaction, refueled the return energy I needed to remind myself that the next chapter is just around the corner. Once Roy, Aaron, April and I started talking about the things we want to accomplish as we all move forward together, the hairs on my neck started standing up and I felt that energy again.
And I can’t wait for you all to be along for the ride and see, along with me, what we’re going to do.