Anywhere, But Here: Life on the Road

This is a remake of the song that first appeared on the Time Capsule
album. It’s just kind of a bonus track that I made to get familiar with my new
recording software, but it’s kind of fun with horns and strings so I included it on the Dangerous Blues album a few years later.

You Tube Video of Anywhere, But Here (bare bones version as I originally wrote it)

I was sitting in a local bar
But it wasn’t local to me.
My home, it isn’t very far.
No farther than it will ever be.
Quietly nursing my beer
And musing over the years.
The smiles over the tears
In the Fall of my career.
Chorus:
It’s all the same.
There really is no fame
And nothing left for me to gain.
Take me anywhere, but here.
All the places that I’ve been
And all the things that I’ve seen
They remind me of what I could have been
And what I’ll never be
My eyes are blinded by the lights of the stage.
My life is blinded by the ripeness of my age.
I chose this life to escape from a cage,
But the mistake of my life and the fault of my vision
Are seen in my daily wage.
Chorus
My friends, they wanted me from the start,
To make music a bigger part of my life.
Well, I’ve always written it from my heart,
But I never intended to be its wife.
My closest friends are my pen and guitar,
But I never knew that they could take me this far.
With a five-piece band out waiting in the car
And me sitting in a St. Louis bar.

This is probably the first ‘true’ song I wrote. At least, this is the earliest song I remember playing for someone else. That person was John Parish.

John and I were very good friends in high school. I had always considered him a much better guitar player than I and he was always in a heavy metal rock band. Consequently, I hung out and partied with the band. Occasionally, we’d jam, but I couldn’t really hang with their set list (AC/DC, Black Sabbath, BÖC, Van Halen, etc.). John was a self-taught guitarist and he seemed genuinely fascinated with the skills I learned as a Mel Bay drone and he tried very hard to learn the scales and etudes I was studying. I alternately, learned the fundamentals of 4/4 rock and roll (80’s style) and the importance of the pentatonic scale.

Late one evening in 1981, John and I were alone in his basement toying around with our guitars and I played this song for him. I remember being very nervous, but I played and sang the song all the way through for him. His response was all I could hope for. None of the dozens of musicians he’d played with had ever admitted to writing an original song before, let alone actually play it for somebody. To put this in the proper context, we were 16 years old at the time.

The tune itself sprang forth as I was nearing graduation and seriously wondering what I was going to pursue as a career. At the time, I was equally consumed by advanced academics, theatre arts, and music. I took as a theme, a dark fantasy of what I would be like had I pursued a career in music with little or no success. The road-weary character sits in the St. Louis  bar where his band played earlier in the evening and thinks back on his life and the choices he’s made. There’s a resignation and realization that it’s too late to go back and even if he did, he probably wouldn’t change anything. Still, he does realize that his life sucks. Meanwhile, the rest of the band is out in the van waiting for him so they can set off for an overnight drive to the next nowhere venue and tomorrow’s gig. The song’s plot is a pretty direct rip off of Paul Simon’s One Trick Pony which was never widely released nor critically acclaimed, but I still liked it and was strongly influenced by it.

The haunting synthesizers and vocal wailing in the tune were supposed to sound like the volunteer fire sirens of my little hometown (permit me another Paul Simon reference to My Little Town). That sound still makes me think of the gritty, blue-collar images I was trying to evoke in this recording and I always imagined the voices of the other band members at the closing of the song calling to the main character (“…sittin’ in a St. Louis bar.  Hey, c’mon man, were late, etc.”), but I never actually recorded them. I recall a fourth verse in bits and pieces (…family hutch…Pennsylvania Dutch….), but I never liked it as well as the other three and the last verse in this recording is by far the best anyway.

The song was recorded in Youngstown, Ohio in my friend Jack Chamberlain’s apartment on his 4-track PortaStudio during the Fall of 1982. This was either my first or second recording session. I played all the instruments (guitars, synth bass and synth solos) and sang both harmonies.

Originally recorded in 4-track mono. Mixed to stereo cassette (2-track) in 1982. Re-engineered to digital from the stereo mixdown using Cool96 September 1999

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