“Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars” — Casey Kasem
I’m going to share a personal story today, one that may resonate with some of you and have others of you ready to mock me (Mrs. JK, I’m thinking of you). It’s a tale that takes me back to my youth, and I’ll eventually bring it back to the quote at the top of this blog post. It’s all about following your dreams.
One of my dreams has always to be in a rock band. Now, to put that in context, you have to understand that music is not exactly one of my talents. While I have a passion for live concerts and about 10,000 songs in my iTunes, I’ve never been able to play an instrument. I gave up piano when I was 12, tried saxophone for a while but never really got over the whole “cleaning the spit valve” issue, and my tiny hands make it challenging to play a guitar. When I was a kid, I sang in chorus and even had a chance in middle school to be the lead singer in a band – we played “On the Dark Side” by Eddie and the Cruisers, and I was the only one who sounded gritty enough at 13 years old to pull it off. But my career in music pretty much ended before it began.
Life took me in other directions, and my dream to be the lead singer in a rock band looked like it may never come true. Until last week, when I was talking with a friend about the band that he had started recently. They were getting along fine, but really could use a lead singer instead of the “singer by committee” structure they’d been using. Naturally, I quickly volunteered myself with the caveat that “I’m not much of a singer, so feel free to throw me out.” He accepted, gave me a few songs to practice, and told me to be there in two days for a try-out.
The first practice was great – really liked the guys, build a nice chemistry and managed not to completely embarrass myself. I was rated “decent to good” (which I’ll take any day) and was invited back for another attempt with the full band in attendance. So, I spent the week singing every chance I got – the car, the shower, in the basement, outside in the garage. My wife and kids were incredibly supporting (well, except for the constant mocking), and I eagerly prepared myself for the next practice soon to come. Oh, and I also told EVERYONE I know that I was joining a band (big mistake, as you’ll soon read).
Last night was the second practice. We tried the same few songs we worked on last week, and added a couple more. In fairness, I’m not sure I got any better between weeks one and two. Some of the songs flowed naturally, but others required a lot of background vocal support. I got lost a couple of times in the middle of a song, and never found just the right balance between the high notes and the low notes. I just need more practice, I thought to myself. I’ll get better, just need a little more time.
Well, after I left last night, the band voted . . . and I’m out. Turns out that I’m really not that much of a singer (although I got really positive marks in the “stage presence” and “fun to hang out with” categories). The band decided to return to a singer-by-committee while they continue to look for a long-term lead.
Am I disappointed? Sure – it was a lot of fun. It gave me something to focus on outside of my kids, my job and the routine we associate with life. And does it likely put to a permanent end my dream of EVER fronting a band? I’d have to say yes – if I couldn’t make it with these guys I’m not sure there’s going to be a “next” opportunity.
It’s times like these that I’m reminded of the way Casey Kasem signed off every single time he wrapped up on America’s Top 40. “Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.” Don’t forget about what’s right in front of you, but don’t ever stop dreaming. I’m glad I gave singing in a band a shot, and while it didn’t work out the way I would have liked, it reminded me to keep looking for the next challenge. Better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all.
So thanks “band still searching for their name” – I appreciated the opportunity, and can’t wait to be the drunk guy singing loudly from the front row at your first show.