Today is the thirtieth band blog written on the thirtieth week in a row. I have loved every single minute of writing this blog. I’ve enjoyed letting you see inside the band, the behind the scenes struggles life in the indie music scene, and laying bare my own personal creative journey thus far. I say, “Letting you see inside,” but in reality, I have opened my own eyes through this process far more than I would ever take credit for opening yours. Today, the number thirty has me thinking about other thirties in my life.
Let’s start with thirty minutes ago. Thirty minutes ago, I was in full packing mode for Runaway Home’s Florida tour to play the Frank Brown Songwriter’s Festival. After all these years of travelling on the road, you would think that I would be prepared long in advance of leaving. Performance clothes bag – check. Regular overnight bag – check. Gear bag – check. Guitar – check. All necessities neatly and expertly packed ahead of time and placed by the front door. Wake up Mark, you’re dreaming. That’s not how it works. The only lesson about pre-tour preparation that has ever stuck with me was, “clean up the house before you leave.” After miles of cramped spaces and temporary everything, coming home to a house that looks the same as the floorboard of the band van isn’t very pleasant – even for piggish bachelors like me. Therefore the packing, well that comes last, somewhere in the remaining few minutes before having to sprint out the door and in-between last minute social media promotion, finding extra picks in the washing machine and yes, putting out the weekly band blog.
Thirty hours ago. First we know there was no packing going on, and given the fact that it was before noon, I can safely say REM-sleep was the only task being performed. Thirty days ago, we were on the road to Louisiana for the first of two trips in a month to the Bayou country. I think even the blog one month ago was centered around travelling and a great debate, if memory serves, between the nutrition merits of Pork Rinds vs. Slim Jims. Miles ticking away through daylight band chaos and the more serene dashboard music filled darkness, represents two of the great loves of my life. Measuring what city or state I happen to be in by the date that pops up on my phone, and not by any organized or controlled sense of reality, is a good indication that I have achieved the madness I have so sought.
I was thirty years old in 1997 and on this date, Ramzi Yousef was convicted of bombing the World Trade Center in New York City. Even with that extreme level of evil and violence, we still could not imagine what would befall the Twin Towers just a short four years later. Speaking of unforeseen disasters lurking just around the corner, I was still happily married during that period of my life and writing songs full time for Maypop Music Group in Nashville. The country music scene was relevant and vibrant, and we were producing art that we could all be proud of. But John Denver had died just a month before and now looking back, I should have taken that for the omen that it was. It ushered in some rough years ahead for me and music.
Thirty years ago today, and not quite living George Orwell’s dystopian 1984, I was a seventeen-year-old senior at McLean High School in Northern Virginia. I was studying for my SAT’s in between sets at Nanny O’Brien’s Irish Pub on upper Connecticut Avenue in Washington, DC. I was playing the very same Martin D-35 that I’ll be playing with the band in Florida tomorrow night. On either side of that small pub stage, I was dreaming of a career in music, hoping the audience would like me and wondering where this crazy train would eventually lead. So many things have changed, but thinking of that same old guitar and that same old dream, I suppose it’s true that clocks can tick without the passing of time.
Mark Elliott – Runaway Home
“It’s the Music That Makes Us Smile”