Falling Off a Log
Copyright © 2003, 2015
Scott's dad was still on his stool, and we all sat back down. He looked at us, and said, "Guys, I used to be about as bashful as you both are. I think that, given your talents, the best way for you to get over it is to perform a some in public. Get a band together with some kids from school. Show off a little. Show people what you can do."
I was petrified just hearing this. I hated even being seen by other people. I was mortified every time I had to say something out loud in class. I got nervous whenever anything called attention to me. If Scott hadn't had that one bold moment four years ago, I'm sure I'd still be without friends. He was no better. We had a couple of kids who we knocked around with once in a while, but they were basic losers like us. We weren't really friends with them. We both envied Dave and Sam's confidence when we hung around with them. Now Sam was off at college, and it was just Dave.
I said, "Uh, uh! I don't think so. I couldn't. I'd be too scared. I can't even talk in front of other people."
"Me, neither," Scott said.
"I couldn't. I can't." I started to hug Scott a little, and he was twitching nervously just like me.
My father leaned forward. "You guys aren't getting it. You can do this. You just did, and I didn't see any nervousness at all while you were playing. Just confidence. Exuberance! Happiness!"
He added, "Let me tell you, when Paul here first played in public I don't think he did anything except go to the toilet for about three days before. He was scared stiff. He was shaking like a leaf in a hurricane when he first went out on the stage. Then he started to play. After about two notes he was into the music, and he played all night, didn't want to stop. Now he plays in front of 30,000 people at a time. He loves it!"
"But I'm still scared stiff when I go out there," Scott's dad said.
"You?" I asked, startled.
"Yup. And I still pretty much stay near the toilet until the show starts."
I was amazed, "But, everybody knows you. They love you. They wouldn't buy tickets if they didn't want to be there!"
"Doesn't matter. My bladder fails me. My knees fail me. If I do two shows in one night, I'm just as scared between shows. That's what we're trying to get at here. It's normal, but you guys, once you start playing, that's all there'll be. No monsters. Not even an audience. Just the music you can make. Tell the truth, it does more for me to play it - just to be able to play it - than for anyone who's listening."
Davey looked at us. "You guys are too good - too hot to keep this stuff to yourselves. Dad - show them what you were doing with that song you gave them."
"Good idea. Listen, guys."
He shoved a tape in the player and pushed a button. It was the same song Scott and I had just played. To tell the truth, I'd done about what he did at the beginning. Then his voice - all gravelly and bluesy - sang the lyrics. When it got to the guitar break it was typical @@@@@. Very good. Real good. Outstanding!
But nothing at all like I'd played.
Now I was starting to get what he meant when he said he could play him, but I should play me. For all that I admired him, worshiped him, I could tell right away that my lead was better. It just brought more to the song. Made it a different song.
Scott hugged me tighter. "Dad, er ... I ... Dad ... Joey's sounded ....."
"Better. Way better!"
"That's not what I meant," Scott protested.
"But it was better. Playful and soulful at the same time. Way inventive. Like I haven't been in fifteen years."
"It's true. Once people are paying for your music, you're a little bit stuck playing what they like, if you want to earn a living. Yeah, I've shifted gears and grown some over the years, but if you listened to my oldest stuff next to my newest you'd still know it was me. And I like what I do. I've recorded tons of crap that never saw the light of day, like what you just listened to. My version doesn't meet my own standards. Yours would set a new standard."
I was embarrassed and intrigued at the same time! My idol was telling me that I'd just out-played him. And I thought so, too! I looked at Scott. He was totally bewildered.
"So, what do we do?"
"Find some kids around your age that play. You'll need drums and a bass - maybe a keyboard and another guitar. I don't know - that's up to you. Sometimes a decent keyboard will let you get away without a bass player. It always helps if somebody can sing, too. I know that Jack Hensley's kid plays the drums. Maybe he knows somebody, too. There's twenty-something thousand people in this town. There must be plenty of players your age."
I looked at Scott. We were already about nose to nose, anyhow. "What do you think? Want to try?"
He pressed his nose against mine. Crossed his eyes something fierce, until I laughed. "Duh. I don't know, Bwana. Yeah!" He kissed me again. Right on the mouth.
Everybody was going "Awwright guys!"
Scott's dad said, "Listen, guys. If you don't mind, I'll mess around with the recordings you did earlier until they sound kind of finished. I'll make copies for you both. You can give them to your friends. Don't tell them who it is - just get them to listen. I'll give copies to Mike, too. He's always playing stuff in his store. Just see what the reaction is. OK?"
I looked back at Scott. This time I kissed him, and it lasted a lot longer than his had. I was dreaming. About people hearing our music. Not knowing it was me and Scott. About what their reactions would be.
Davey got up and said, "It's gettin' too warm in here for me! Let's eat!"
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