Helping Hand: The Reality of Touring

How many times have you heard of musicians thrust into fame? For how many more was it never offered? How many do you know by name? How many more never get to play the game?
Chorus: Thousands and thousands of people in this land Never expect to receive a helping hand. Destined to wander from hotel to club Playing music they don’t love.
How many songs fill the air with the gratitude of discovery? How many more could write them if they dared? Such high hopes often lack recovery. Too many more to sift through to uncover me.
Chorus Thousands and thousands of people in this land Never expect to receive a helping hand. Destined to wander from hotel to club Playing music they don’t love.
How many closet writers are there from coast to coast? They take their stories and lock them away. You’ll never read them in the Post Sitting at the table with coffee and toast. Thousands and thousands of people in this land Never expect to receive a helping hand. Destined to write what is never read With feet of clay and heart of lead.
Now, it may not surprise you to learn I didn’t write this song for me alone. For there are many more deserving than I. Years spend studying timbre and tone And miles between themselves and their homes.
Chorus Thousands and thousands of people in this land Never expect to receive a helping hand. Destined to wander from hotel to club Playing music they don’t love.

This song was written while two friends of mine were ‘touring’ a motel chain circuit across the Mid-Atlantic in the Summer of 1985. They were very excited, but it didn’t sound like very much fun to me. This was the source of the traveling musician theme in this song. I was still wrestling with my desire to perform, but I’d also realized that the basis of success (i.e., huge success) wasn’t talent, but luck. Two things had become obvious to me: First, I personally knew enough really good musicians that sharp players clearly weren’t hard to find. Second, we could all learn to play the commercial music we were listening to, so the recording artists clearly weren’t out of our league technically (for the most part). The day I finally put those two pieces together was when I realized that I’d better find a more certain way of making a living. The last fifteen years haven’t changed my mind though I still root for my friends as they continue to play clubs and bars (balding, gray and with wives and children in tow). Incidentally, I try to make sure that they don’t forget me in case they do get the big break they’ve worked for all their lives. This song was recorded in Youngstown, Ohio on Jack Chamberlain’s 4-track PortaStudio. This was the second time I’d recorded this song and I asked Wayne Ackman to play the bass part. The drum program is unique in that Jack finally allowed me to program an entire song instead of just 1 or 2 measures. You’ll notice there’s a telephone ring in the opening measures. This was unintentional and happened as I was about to lay down a vocal track (open mic, but I wasn’t singing). I left it in the final mix to represent the record company phone call to offer you that big recording contract (the divine ‘helping hand’). I played all the guitars and sang all three harmonies. Jack and I programmed the drum machine. Wayne Ackman wrote and played the bass line. Originally recorded in 4-track mono. Mixed to stereo cassette (2-track) in 1985. Re-engineered to digital from the stereo mixdown using Cool96 September 1999

2 thoughts on “Helping Hand: The Reality of Touring

  1. You chose the right road Dr. Ken. Music will always be part of you. As much a part of you as musical notes ———————— and equations.

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