Music Andrew Joslyn — October 30, 2013 17:33 — 0 Comments
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis World Tour vol. 6 – Andrew Joslyn
I woke up at 2:10 pm Central time. The sun was shining bright as I walked out of the dark tour bus – and it was so bright that the surrounding landscape was blurred as my eyes adjusted to the intense light change. Sleep was still crusted in my eyes as I slowly emerged into downtown Des Moines, Iowa. Welcome to the American Heartland. At the time all I saw was a parking lot, a collection of tour buses, a huge sign for the Wells Fargo Arena – which was all familiar to a degree… but also very disjointing. Just yesterday I was in Omaha, Nebraska in a different environment, different arena, different setup… everything had become rearranged. There is a slight moment of confusion, and then I saw a security guard who was more than happy to direct me to the dressing rooms, catering, and production. This has become a normal routine for me. Yet I don’t feel satisfied this morning… and I’m not sure why.
I can’t help but have Bob Seger’s song “Turn the Page” burning in my mind this morning:
“On a long and lonesome highway
East of Omaha
You can listen to the engine
Moanin’ out his one note song
You can think about the woman
Or the girl you knew the night before
But your thoughts will soon be wandering
The way they always do
When you’re ridin’ sixteen hours
And there’s nothin’ much to do
And you don’t feel much like ridin’,
You just wish the trip was through”
We’ve been on the road for over a week now for the United States-leg of our World tour. We started off in Portland, Oregon for a couple of days while our new production and road crew got set up with our even larger setup – larger rigging, more lights, bigger stage, and an even larger video screen. It took us a bit to solidify our production, but eventually we performed at the Rose Garden, and were prepared to take on the next major tour. Seven semi trucks and nine tour buses, our US entourage was ready.
Once we played Portland, we moved further east to Spokane, on through to Missoula, next to Boise, further south into Salt Lake City, and final far east to Omaha, and Des Moines, Iowa.
There is no loneliness quite like what you will feel when you are on the road touring. It feels like a blanket, as you float from city to city. You don’t quite fit in, you don’t quite belong, and life just keeps going on around you as you’re enclosed in an alternate reality. However, to the fans we are deities and objects of fascination, and envy.
“Well you walk into a restaurant,
Strung out from the road
And you feel the eyes upon you
As you’re shakin’ off the cold
You pretend it doesn’t bother you
But you just want to explode”
The majestic and exciting feeling from the European tour has subsided to a feeling of “hunkering down”, “preparing for the grind” – the vacation is over. Now it is time for the hard work. Not to say that touring the US isn’t exciting – it is more that there isn’t as much novelty and flair exploring middle American towns as there was in exploring Amsterdam, Warsaw and Paris, which all have great architecture, great atmosphere and old world charm. There is just so much more history. Which in the end actually confuses me. When has touring made me jaded, or at least unappreciative/blase of new places? I need to meditate on this.
“Out there in the spotlight
You’re a million miles away
Every ounce of energy
You try to give away
As the sweat pours out your body
Like the music that you play”
Yet, this is my life right now. Happiness is something to be practiced, and is never a consistent condition. It is a mistake to even think that is possible. Two days ago I re-read an interview Rolling Stone magazine had with Ben Haggerty:
“…Is he happy? Haggerty thinks about it for a long while, staring at a stoplight from underneath his hat and sunglasses. ‘Happiness for me is a relatively impermanent thing,’ he says. ‘I think in general… I would say yes. I would say that I’m grateful that the work that I’ve put in has equated to me being here in this position now. I could have never anticipated what it would actually be like when I got here. But I’m still learning to live within this reality, and it’s been a challenge to uphold any sort of normalcy, to have time for my family, to have time for my girlfriend, to have time for myself. It’s been a struggle the past six months, but I think that I’m learning to live within it.’ A couple minutes later, unprompted, he revised his answer. ‘You know, you always want to say that you’re happy,’ he says quietly. ‘Particularly when you have an immense amount of success and money and power and all that sort of stuff. And you feel like a bitch if you complain. But I think it’s been a learning process, and I don’t know if I’m fully there yet.’” – Rolling Stone
Knowing that the prime figurehead behind this tour has his doubts and struggles with happiness is strangely a relief, yet I echo his sentiment about feeling guilty for sounding ungrateful, jaded, or unhappy. As I write this, I definitely feel that remorse for not feeling more thankful for my life right now.
Every night, before we perform on stage, the entire band, dancers, singers, Ben and Ryan, huddle up and share our appreciation and gratefulness for this opportunity that we have been given. Despite the apparent hardness, pessimism, and wear and tear you deal with day in and day out on the road, this moment always has an air of reverence. This is our sanctuary before we take the stage and lose ourselves in the performance. Two nights ago, Mary Lambert (singer of the hook for ‘Same Love’) was given the floor to talk, and her speech still resonates with me: (this is a paraphrase of her speech, but the point is the same):
It is a miracle that we were all sperm once, that we battled it out with millions of other sperm to be born, to be able to have a chance to live, and then through thousands of other challenges and choices in life that we all are able to come to this exact moment, and say we are here, alive, and about to perform in front of 10,000 people. Right now. Be thankful for that miracle.
Ben was right. This is all a learning process, but I will definitely never forget how amazing my life has become because of all my choices, and what has led me to this exact moment, right now. Right Now.
The answer isn't poetry, but rather language
- Richard Kenney