April 19, 2012
THE CAROLINAS, April 19 – One thing that happens when you’ve been in a band and then you write a novel, is that people will still want to talk with you about your old bands and not so much the novel. That’s fine, partially because this type of conversation is still a lubricant that sells books. But inevitably there are questions about my own future in bands, which are inevitably followed by my assurances that no, I have no plans to play any more music. I try to phrase this answer so that it doesn’t sound snooty. I wish I still enjoyed music. I’m hoping I enjoy music again in the future.
I get hints of this happening. I’ve been listening critically to music again, on this trip, for the first time in years. For most of my time in bands, I had a very limited range of songs and albums I liked. This gives me a huge advantage over most of my friends. There is an ocean of music out there I get to experience for the first time. Just on this trip, I’ve already been (re)introduced to a half dozen artists I never paid any attention to the first time around: King Crimson, Nas, early Roxy Music, Dio-era Sabbath, The Wipers, Wu-Tang Clan. Maybe someday I’ll be moved to buy one of their records.
We stopped at a Flying J in Latta, SC, and I was startled to see Tim Barry pull into the spot next to us. I knew Tim when I lived in Richmond in the mid-90’s. He was, and remains, a hell of a guy. I, on the other hand, was an unpleasant wreck when I knew him. My hope is that I didn’t make too bad an impression on him when I left his town. He’s the kind of person who would be too courteous to receive me with anything other than a bear hug in the candy aisle of a nasty truck stop, despite how much of a dong I may or may not have been 15 years ago.
We’re both on tour. Tim was heading south, I was heading north. Although he seemed happy and grateful to be able to do what he’s doing, I felt a twinge of relief that I wasn’t the one on a music tour. Then he asked how long I was touring, and I said “seven weeks”, and we both laughed in that way people do when they’re happy they’re not on an endless book tour and then one of them realizes that he very much is.