THE COST OF SUCCESS:
If I’d ‘made it’ when I was twenty, I would probably be dead by now!
And now, at an age when most people retire, my career is just starting to get interesting, and others whom I envied are, sadly, no longer with us.
I had a good friend who played in a band with me back in the seventies. We wrote songs together, smoked dope together and believed that success was just around the corner. When we realised that it was a very big corner, my friend became impatient and we went our separate ways. I started playing solo gigs, doing mainly cover songs (because no-one wanted to employ songwriters) and my friend soon had another band with ‘known’ musicians to replace us. They continued playing original songs and got very little work at first.
By the eighties his new band was one of the biggest crowd-drawing acts in the country, while I was still playing (very regularly) in wine bars and pubs – a big fish in small pond. It wasn’t long before he had a gold record on his wall. Of course, I was jealous of him. However, he also often had traces of white powder around his nose – his way of dealing with the pressure of constantly touring, I guess.
We lost contact with each other but I continued to try to emulate his success with my own band/s and solo performances. So many times success came up and shook hands with me but then pulled away again. My journey was to be very different from my friend’s.
The last time I saw him was more than a decade later, at a little bar, sitting there still sadly playing the old songs which had brought him success but only one or two old fans clapped, including me. A year or so after that, I learnt that he had died of an overdose.
It was then that I realised ‘There but for the grace of God go I’. I thanked providence for the fact that I hadn’t ‘made it’ when I was young. I wrote a tribute song to my friend, a live version of which is on one of my mini albums.
There will be no huge crowds for me, huddled together in big smoke-filled venues, no gold record on the wall, either. The world has changed. My success is happening in a totally different way, in this totally different world and I hope my friend applauds me the way I always applauded him.