There is a big squishy pile of obsessions on my mind right now and no way to sort it out besides grabbing one slippery tendril and starting to pull.
A week ago I saw these guys live. It got me back in touch with a lot of thoughts, dreams and wonder that I had as a twenty-something…
The last time I’d ever seen Terry Taylor was 16 years ago, when Daniel Amos played Atlanta. It was disturbing and humbling to see him in person after all that time. Long ago, he’d sat with me and a friend of mine after the show and patiently indulged all our sophomoric questions. Also, Derri Daugherty of The Choir did the same.
At that time, I was a budding musician, starting a college band as a freshman at Furman, and writing my own songs. I wrote more songs that year than any other year of my life. I was honestly, seriously considering a career as a musician, singer-songwriter. And frankly I wasn’t a huge fan yet of either band. And, more frankly, I don’t know that they were at their best. Both have really matured and come out with what I think is their very best work in the last 5-6 years, especially DA (their newest album, Mr. Buechner’s Dream, is their best work ever, and should be owned by everyone). Now I look back on meeting them and I think “wow, that was terrific.” At the time they were all in LA (Terry and most of the crowd he plays with in various acts is still there; Derri is now in Nashville, I think) and they almost never make it to places like Georgia or North Carolina to play.
Here’s the kicker: I was also wanting to go to seminary, to be a “professional Christian” of sorts. I wanted to minister to others in a way that engaged my creativity, my hunger for art and my penchant for intellectual challenge. To a great degree, these people and their music, as well as the music of Michael Roe of the 77s, Mark Heard and Gene Eugene of Adam Again, and others, were walking, talking, singing metaphors of the kind of faith I wanted to practice.
Fast forward to 2002. I’m a father of a 6yr old girl; husband to my wife for 12 years now (whom I met just a few months after that Daniel Amos concert 16 years ago), I’ve lived in several other cities. I tried seminary and gave up on it when fundamentalists took it over. I ended up studying literature & rhetoric, writing poetry and fiction, getting an MA and MFA in the same. I tried teaching and gave up on it because I lack the patience for teaching college freshmen. I fell into this Internet thing and became obsessed with it, really to the point of it becoming a new “faith” or “calling” for me.
Also, in the meantime, Mark Heard and Gene Eugene died, each at different times and at the height of their creative powers, both with little or no warning.
Then last Friday in Charlotte, NC at an intimate little club, the three remaining members of Lost Dogs (Terry Taylor, Mike Roe, Derri Daugherty — all still missing Gene, gone now about 2 years or so), a kind of “Traveling Wilburys” supergroup, playing their guitars, and playing some of the most amazing, powerful music I’d ever heard in my life, songs that had gotten me through some of the toughest moments of my life, and the most joyous. Between the three of them and their other bands and projects, they represented the vast majority of songs I give a damn about in the world. Not until I sat there and listened did it really sink in.
I’m a little overwhelmed, actually. I’m not sure how to explain what it made me feel. But it helped me remember that my life is bigger than right now, my job right now, my car and house right now. I remembered that I had other dreams and could have them again, or have others later. It got me on eBay looking for out-of-print albums that I’d owned at one time and sold like a fool, and some that I hadn’t bought when they were around, so that I could hear a lot of these songs I’d missed out on over and over. It got me thinking about putting fresh strings on my guitar and getting busy.
What does any of this have to do with my job, the books I’ve been reading lately, or the Internet or Information Architecture? Almost nothing. Other than the fact that IA is marginally fulfilling as a vocation, but compared to what I used to feel as a songwriter and performer, it pales in comparison. I have callouses on my left hand fingers now for the first time in years, and I have melodies circling in my head that don’t come from the radio or CD’s, and some words bubbling around in there that aren’t related to ROI or clickthroughs. So, I suppose making decent money as an IA is ok. But my avocation, my “calling” is finally getting some much-deserved airtime. I don’t know where it’ll take me. I don’t know where anything will take me.