I just made a record. A real live record, or an album, depending on when you were born. You didn’t know I was a musician did you? It’s actually selling pretty well, perhaps not by The Rolling Stones status, but it is selling. I owe it all to an engineer.
So the story is that for years I have been an amateur musician, in addition to a writer. I would do all covers, never any of my own stuff…funny considering I am also a writer. I just found it easier to perform what others wrote; really I just found it easier to sing what I already knew was a good song. I was always afraid to bring out my own stuff; for fear that the audience wouldn’t like it. My covers were pretty good, good enough that people always used to tell me I should record them. It’s kind of a hassle re-recording a song though, you have to get the original artists permission and that is sometimes easier said than done.
Well finally after hearing it enough I decided that I should make an album. After all, there might be a small handful of people out there that like my version better than the original. So I started that arduous process of reaching out to the people’s people to try to get the people’s permission and for the most part it actually worked, the people decided to let me sing their stuff. So I went into the studio and I laid down my tracks. At the end, I was getting ready to pack up my gear when the engineer said to me, “you know, you’ve still got the studio for another 20 minutes, you got anything else you want to lay down?” I did have a few original pieces in my pocket and just for kicks, I decided to do it. I sang a few of my own songs and when my time was up, I started to pack my stuff up. I thanked the engineer for his time and I could tell he was about to say something and then he stopped. So I said, what, what is it? He said, “well, I probably shouldn’t say anything, but, I actually thought your original stuff was better than the covers.”
As fate would have it, I actually had a gig later that evening and a little more than half way through the set, I couldn’t get out of my mind what the engineer had said to me. So I switched it up a little and I had the band cancel a few of the covers we were set to do in favor of my original songs. I passed them off as being originally done by someone no one had heard of from the Midwest. After the show I was at the bar when a couple of people came up to me and told me they enjoyed the show, and then they actually asked for more info about the guy from the Midwest because they really liked those songs and they wanted to look for an original cd or something. I was definitely caught off guard so I had no choice but to resort to the truth. After hearing they were mine, they told me I should do more of my own work.
Thinking this couldn’t just be luck, I decided to incorporate more and more of my own stuff into my shows, forcing me to change the way I marketed myself even…going from being a cover artist, to just a plain artist. A year or so went by and I was having really good luck with my original work, more and more people would tell me after the shows how much they really liked it and where they could get more of it. After hearing this more and more at my shows, I decided to go back to that same studio to make another record, only this time it would be my own stuff.
After laying down all my original songs, I was packing up my gear and I again thanked the engineer for his time. It was a different guy so I asked what happened to the guy I had last time. He said he was no longer here so I asked what his name was. Knowing this guy was really the catalyst for me over-coming one of my biggest fears, I decided to look this guy up, I had to talk to him again. I hit the internet and actually had a bit of luck. Since his name was rather unusual, there were only 3 in my area, so I liked my chances. I couldn’t go try to find all three then next day like I wanted to because between my day job and a few other obligations, I had a busy couple of weeks ahead. In reality, I was pretty nervous. I wasn’t sure what I would say when I saw him again, he probably wouldn’t even remember me.
It was just like the movies when I set off to find them. The first 2 were misses, so I knew the third had to be him. I drove down his street and stopped in front of his house. There were two cars in the driveway, and one of them was a pick-up truck so I knew he had to be home. My heart was almost beating out of my chest, I was so nervous. As I stood at the bottom of the stairs leading to the front door, I wondered why I was so nervous. He is a regular person, just like me, so why was I nervous? I rang the doorbell and a woman answered. I asked to speak to him and she didn’t say anything, she just looked at me. I said his name again, is he home, can I speak to him? I again got the same look. I told her my name and who I was. I told her the story of how I went to record a record and what he said to me, how he gave me this huge burst of confidence, how it was all him that made me start to sing my original songs when I performed, how I recorded another record, only of my own songs this time, and how that record is actually selling. I found myself rambling on and on when I suddenly stopped. I looked at this woman and she was crying. I was speechless, I was fumbling around trying to figure out what to say when she looked at me and told me he had died last week.
She told me she was his daughter. She was the only one home but she invited me in. We sat down and I told her I was sorry for coming. She asked me why I was sorry. I told her that I didn’t mean to make her cry; I only wanted to come over to say thanks to her father. She told me there was no need to apologize. The reason she was crying was that for years she never really knew what her father did for a living. She knew he worked at this little studio, but he had always told her that he just helped out. He would help set up instruments for people to play, he would clean up after they left he told her. So when she heard my story, and the profound impact he had on my life and my work, it was just too much for her to take. We ended up talking for almost an hour before I decided to leave. I told her that if I ever make it big, I would invite her to a concert.
When I got back to my car I started to reflect for a moment when it hit me. If I hadn’t taken so much time after I had gotten his name, I might have been able to talk to him before he died. I started to cry myself. But then I thought, maybe I wasn’t supposed to thank him; maybe it was all fate that it worked out the way it did. Maybe he was just supposed to come into my life for a couple of hours only to change it forever going forward. I don’t know. I think about him from time to time though, I can’t help it.
A man once said to me, “you can’t stop what’s coming.” I suppose he’s right.