"The greatest risk is taking no risk at all."This (in my own scrawl) proudly hangs in my kitchen taped to a cabinet door. I'm not sure when or where I first heard this....or even if I got it right... but AMEN Lord, I'm a believer!!!!!!!! As Soupy Sales might say, "Now what do we mean by that?" What we....I...mean by that is that the fear you experience just before you jump off that cliff is nothing compared to the regret you'll have for the rest of your life if you don't. Got it? The older I get the less inclined I am to worry about what people think. Not the jumping off the cliff stuff. That never really bothered me. I still have a nice scar on my foot from being the first one off the cliff at Chimney Rock Reservoir. Not quite as deep as we'd thought. But we moved down a few yards and all was cool. And I only bled for five or ten minutes. I had a definite crazy streak going through me as a kid/young adult/older young adult. Putting me, my body, on the line...no sweat. Putting "me" on the line....challenging. Public speaking, performing, being in the spotlight....these are my "cliffs."
I think the turning point for me was around 1985 or so. I had a job that would take me into NYC once or twice a week and If I had time to kill I'd usually wind up on 48th St.... guitar store capital of the world. Well this one day I'm parked by Manny's Music and I notice a sign on the door of the Cort Theater....next door to Manny's...... Open Auditions for "Cats" 2pm. How many different roads do we have the opportunity to take in life? If you went to that college instead of this one, took that other job, asked HER out, played with the other band, went out, stayed home, original, extra crispy.....STOP!!!!! This concept can boggle the mind. But we're not static creatures. Move we must. Some (me) just a little slower than others. A lot of times I feel like I'm living life in a movie...like THIS move is really important...life changing....CUE THE ORCHESTRA! It's usually not, but sometimes...it is! And sometimes when you feel like you're just going along for the ride...to kill a few hours...BAM... that's the one that whacks you.
So around 3:30 I'm on stage at the Cort Theater with seven or eight other guys. Did you ever feel like you were in a roomful of tuxedos..... and you were a pair of brown shoes? This was just like you see in the movies. Mine was the third group to go out. Stage lights in your eyes and disebodied voices coming out of the audience area. I was wearing jeans and a t shirt so when the "voice" asked me to do a pirhoutte... I Just looked at all the latex and sweat bands and leg warmers up there on that stage with me and started laughing. I mean...c'mon! My girlfriend at the time was a ballet dancer so I knew what he wanted, and I could've given him my three stooges pirhoutte that I'd do for my buddies in my living room after a night out but I didn't think this was the time or place for that. But before I could do much of anything the "voice " said, "What're you a singer?" "Uh, yeah, I'm a singer." And I launched into the only song that seemed appropriate. "They say the neon lights are bright, on Broadway....on Broadway." Great acoustics in that theater. My mantra has always been, (and I've never been afraid to share it with anyone who wants to listen)..... if you're gonna make a mistake....make it LOUD! I let it rip and the "voice" let me finish a whole verse and that was all I really knew anyway. So with a florish and a bow and a mighty "hi ho Silver"...oh...and a disembodied "We'll be in touch".... my group left the stage. Can you believe it? I never heard from them. I had some nutty notion that I may have fit just a "type" of cat they were looking for. I didn't apparantly....but I might have. And there it is! I've never regretted for a minute going to that audition. It makes a pretty good story and sure beats the feeling I'd have carried around if I didn't.
I hate to say " the older I get" again, but the older I get the more aware I am of roads, opportunities. They're all over the place. Sometimes you need help to see them. I started doing a solo gig about a year and a half ago because my friend Lucy wouldn't let me not do it. I like to think I would have eventually done it anyway, but who knows? I wasn't really frightened the first time out. More like....well hell, this can't really be happening. I'm a bass player. I need people on the stage. I...I....surreal, man. Then the first tune. First, second, third set. Night over and...survival. Now about twenty gigs in I'm diggin' it. And what's the worst that can happen? Kinda the same feeling on my first radio show. As the Star Spangled Banner was playing I'm imploring my feet to run...run.....run like the wind!!!! But the movie was to stay there, stumble through a radio show and thirteen years later I'm still at it.
Sure there's things we can't do. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try to find out where the line is. I'd love to be the Yankees center fielder. Impossible, I know. But I'll bet if I was driving up the Deegan Expwy in the Bronx one day....and there was a banner hanging outside the Stadium that said "Open Call For Centerfielders".......I'd pirhouette in there and....Hey!...it's my movie!! Peace.