STORYTELLER Vol. 2: "Drive On"
A Tale of two Families
"Drive On" is one of several songs that I've written with my good friend Olivia Rudeen. Hanging out with Liv is like a warm slice of apple pie, a scoop of ice cream and a "world's #1 dad" mug of hot coffee while sitting in a recliner in front of a medium sized fireplace; total comfort food. She's also one of the most prolific songwriters I know, and every time we sit down to write together I feel like my odds of creating a masterpiece go way up.
A lot of songwriters are cursed with a wanderlust, and for me that manifests by way of a lot of romanticized travel songs.
This song ruminates on traveling with two families- the family you're born with, and the family that you choose, so this week's story is a two-parter:
It's Thanksgiving week 2012, and I'm traveling to Austin, Tx with my father in my tour van, Ruth.
We left Denver after dark, and headed south on I-25 down into the northwest corner of New Mexico, which is basically Mars.
Around midnight, we were dead in the center of the 100 mile stretch of New Mexico highway with small towns on either side, and we heard our left rear tire rip wide open.
It was something like 25 degrees outside, and the wind was punishing all of our exposed skin as we endeavored for what felt like two hours to change the tire on the highway's shoulder. Once the tire was changed, we kicked back into gear and started to roll down the road for about 50 feet... when the spare exploded.
When AAA finally arrived at around 3am to tow us to the next town, we boarded the tow truck like a conqueror's chariot; brothers in arms against the forces of bad fortune; vanquishers of the great inconvenience.
We made it to Austin without further incident, and over the next several days, my family retreated to a tiny desert hills resort outside of the city for the Thanksgiving vacation.
We cooked, we ate, we watched football, and every night I would drive into the city and have a late night meal at my favorite eatery on planet earth: El Taquito.
I would come back every day and tell my family about the world's best al pastor, and the cinnamon sweetness of the homemade horchata.
On the last day, I finally prevailed on my entire family to come to El Taquito.
18 hours later,my brother, my mother and I were all beset by the worlds worst case of food poisoning. You guessed it...all three of us had the al pastor and the horchata.
That same fall of 2012, in September and October, I had toured all around the eastern half of the country with my best friend Brian Allen Thompson. He's a quirky little MC that doubles as a singer/songwriter, and he's got a propensity for causing me trouble.
We were playing our second or third show on the tour in Chicago at the Elbow Room. Earlier that night we'd been given raw lobsters from another friend of ours in town, and we were canvassing the neighborhood for a place to cook our lobsters. Failing that, we ate no dinner, and Brian filled himself up with more alcohol than was appropriate for a person not living in a Chi Omega fraternity house. , Our good friend Pete Mason (I hope you're not reading this Pete) had flown in from Philly to see us play, and at the end of the night, offered us a place to stay in his fancy pants hotel on the waterfront downtown. We went to bed that evening around 2am. At approximately 3:45 am, I woke up to what I assumed was a loud rainstorm outside. I looked around and saw in the corner of the room, Brian... pissing on the hotel armchair.
I yelled, "BRIAN! What the hell are you doing!?". He responded, with a contemptuous, if hazy eyed look, and said matter-of-factly, "I'm pissing on the chair." as if that was the obvious and appropriate action to be taken when a civilized man has the need to relieve himself.
We left early the following morning.***
**Do you have any nutty travel stories with your family?**
Please share Vol. 2 on your chosen social media, and tell me a story!
You can also email your stories to me at email@example.com
See you next week!
Thanks for checking out Volume One of my STORYTELLER releases.
We'll be doing one each week on Wednesday's until Christmas!
I co-wrote this tune with Randall Kent Ramirez, a brilliant talent and my great friend. He's been a long time member of my FamLee; one of an unaccountable list of people that have supported me in my incredible musical adventure.
I'll write more about Randy in weeks to come, but for now suffice it to say that when we sat down to write this song together, as the song started to unfold in front of us, I had one particular story in my mind:
***In the fall of 2006, I was in my first semester at Western State Colorado University. I had a tight knit group of friends, a passion for my classes, a starting spot on the University lacrosse team, a pick-up truck with a tape deck... and a severe predilection for drugs and alcohol.
Within eight weeks of the beginning of the school year, I'd burned through all of my savings, and my appetite had outstripped my capacity to earn, or even steal enough money to provide myself with the requisite amount of "stuff" to get me through the day.
Not being particularly crafty, I lost my friendships, my place on the team, my relationships with my professors, my family and even my suppliers at an olympic clip.
On October 18th, my situation reached critical mass; terminal velocity, in the words of the recovery community, I had reached my bottom.
I was faced with a paralyzing reality: I could go not one more day in this fashion, but I could not make it through the day without feeding the beast.
I picked up the phone and called my old high school mentor, Kevin Folan. Without judgement, Kevin lent me his ear, patiently and sympathetically. I cringe thinking about what I must have sounded like on the phone that day; confused, drug addled and self-obsessed, but he listened and provided me with much needed comfort and reassurance.
More than that, Kevin offered me a way out. I was to come to Connecticut at the end of the Semester to work for him at the new school for which he had just been named the Head Dean. I was to be his assistant.
For the next several months, Kevin was my whole world. He was mentor, brother, friend, boss, colleague and safety-net. For a while, I had no sense of self, so I borrowed his. What he found funny, I laughed at loudly. What he prided himself on, I made my purpose to master. What he believed, I parroted. I had no model for living, so I borrowed the one that was generously lent to me, and realized that it was possible to be a part of the world.
Somewhere during that time, I learned how to be my own man, and I started to have real dreams, like I had when I was a kid. I came to believe that the world was open to me, and that not only was I going to be ok, that I could be way more than ok. I could be fucking spectacular. I think Kev was the one to really give me permission to be fucking spectacular.
When I think about the beginning of my life as a musician, as a STORYTELLER, when I think about chasing the stars, I think about Kevin, who pointed them out, and showed me how to take my first steps. ***
I want to hear your stories too!
Please, re-post the video and when you do, tag me and tell me a story!
***Who's helped you in a time of need to follow your dreams?***