Archive for rock star

Dreams are for sleep…

Posted in Ramblings..., The present... with tags , , , on March 22, 2013 by henryconley

When do you stop chasing a dream? Conventional wisdom would most likely tell us “when it becomes impractical”, or something along those lines. I’ve always felt that since it’s a dream, conventional wisdom and practicality don’t need to play into your chasing a dream. Yes, as adults we need to know when a dream should be sidelined while reality is dealt with and then pulled out again at a later date, but does a dream need to die? Until recently, I always answered “NO!!!”, with extreme and guttural intensity. I had shelved many dreams over the years and came back to them when reality didn’t get in the way. I honestly believed that in some form or fashion I would achieve at least some of them. Now I’m starting to think they need to die and set me free…

Anyone that knows me or has simply read my blog, knows that I feel I’ve achieved my most important dream of having a wonderful family. With a beautiful wife and two wonderful children, I am certainly a blessed man and now I’m starting to realize that to expect anything else would be greedy. I’m learning that not all dreams come true and we need to just accept that.

Again, if you know me or have read my blog you know I’ve suffered with a desire to be in the limelight my whole life. Why? Well, I really can’t answer that as I have no clue, but it’s been there as long as I can remember. It’s not something I can explain. Why do I crave the satisfaction of having an audience for my thoughts and actions? Couldn’t tell you if I wanted to. I can however, tell you it’s not because I think I deserve or that I am better than anyone else. In fact, I usually rate myself only a notch or two above a garden slug. Relax, that’s a joke. I don’t think that poorly of myself, but rest assured I don’t consider better than most humans. Definitely above those who willingly bring harm to others, but not above your average good-willed person. Do I have low self-esteem and need that boost? After the last couple of sentences one might think so, but I don’t think that’s the case. If I didn’t have a healthy self-esteem I could not do the job I do at home or at work.

To play onstage in front of a sold-out audience night after night, make that movie, documentary or TV show that moved people; to have written that play that made someone stop and think or perhaps write that novel that was a real page-turner. All dreams I’ve had for as long as I can remember. I have so many stories in my head I’d love to share. Stand in front of a crowd and perform a one man show, telling stories the way it use to be done. That’s another.

My imagination and ability to remember almost my entire life (yes I even have memories from the crib) is a blessing and a curse. I can keep myself entertained for hours on end just day-dreaming. The movies in my head are better to me than any in the theaters. The memories, a great documentary of my life. However, that imagination made me believe I could bring these stories to life and those memories won’t let me forget how good it felt to bask in even a sliver of the limelight I’ve craved. Why is this a curse? Well, because I just can’t make those dreams a reality. The good Lord knows I’ve tried. A few years ago, I honestly thought I was going to make at least some of them happen. I felt a re-birth of sorts around my 45th birthday and began to work towards making some of them come true. Then reality struck again… and again… and again… You get the point and I will spare you the details, but I will say that my life was and still is consumed with simply staying above water. Dreams are for sleep right now.

So what does all this mean? It means it is time to start letting go. I’ve gone through life with a big bouquet of balloons tied around my wrist. A balloon for every dream. Now I need to start cutting some of them away and deal with my reality. The odds of me taking the stage behind my drums before a sold-out crowd has diminished with every birthday. My children only saw me onstage with one of my bands once. It was a great outdoor Earth Day concert in front of a crowd of thousands as we shared the bill with the Goo Goo Dolls, Four Non-Blondes and many others (it was the early nineties if you couldn’t tell). Unfortunately, neither of my children remember it because they were very young (apparently I did not pass on the blessing and curse of remembering almost every minute of your life). Now I accept (not happily) that they will never see that side of me. Yeah kids, there was a time when I could at least fake the whole ‘rock star’ thing well enough to play to some pretty big crowds. One less balloon to carry…

Most of the other balloons are being set free as well. They feel more like a weight these days. Yes, I wish they would have come true (Oh God, I wish they had), but now they just haunt me like ghosts from my past. Failures that no one would know happened if I didn’t spill my guts in this blog from time to time, but I am always aware of them. So I’ll let some of those float away as well.

You could accuse me of feeling a bit sorry for myself and you would be right, but I’m entitled to at least that much. If you don’t like my public memorial for my lost dreams you can close your browser or go to another website. Doing this in my beloved blog is my way of letting go. It’s symbolic for me as this blog was born out of that rebirth a few years ago, but as you can see I don’t even get to write here that often anymore. I’m not going to cut that balloon loose just yet though. Writing doesn’t seem to have an expiration date like some of my other dreams, but for now there is no great novel or memoir in the works. Not enough hours in the day and not enough strength in my tired soul.

I won’t let go of all my dreams. I’d be completely lost without at least a few, but I’m tired and worn down right now and need to focus on reality. Not so sure how good of a job I’m doing at real life these days, so I can’t justify chasing my dreams for the time being. So the remaining dreams will be safely tucked away for now.

In closing, there’s a song by Jason Walker that kind of sums up this pity-party/memorial service for lost dreams. The song is called, Down, and I’ve included a video with the lyrics to it. Now, it’s not all a feel-bad thing either. There’s a couple of lines that sum up why I’ll always circle back to those dreams; rock star, author, movie-maker, storyteller…

“Not ready to let go
‘Cause then I’ll never know
What could be missing”

So now I think I’ll listen to the song one more time, sip a root beer (or perhaps a Shirley Temple) and say goodbye to a few old friends and goodnight to a few others. I guess dreams are for sleep after all. Well, at least for now…


First taste of rock and roll success…

Posted in Those Crazy 1980's... with tags , , , on December 4, 2009 by henryconley

I’ve shared my first epic failure at playing rock star, so why not share my first taste at success?  First off, this time we practiced… and practiced.  There was going to be a talent show at Bishop Connolly and me and a few friends had already been trying to start a band.  Each band or act would get one song, so we did the most logical thing we could think of… pick the longest song we could think of; ‘Freebird’.  It would allow all of to get maximum exposure and blow the other acts away.  At least that was our thought behind it.

Mark, Leo, Chris and myself practiced hard and new our parts quite well.  We were lucky that the school let us use the auditorium to practice in as often as we wanted.  We were definitely ready.

Now the only other band that could possibly blow us away was one with the guitarist, Dave from my ‘Epic Failure’ story (he’d turned into a pretty good guitarist) and this guy named Kevin.  It seemed every time I heard there was band starting he got the gig before I could smooze my way in.

So a few days before the talent show (which by the way was during school hours, guaranteeing a full auditorium) we were finishing up our practice on the stage, while the other band waited in the wings.  As we finished, Kevin came over with an interesting proposition, why not merge bands?  They were missing a bass player and Kevin was their singer as well as their drummer, so we’d have a two guitars, bass, keyboards, two singers and two drummers.  Now, with the popularity of southern rock at the time, double drummers were not unheard of.  In fact, ‘Freebird’ featured double drums.  Interesting idea… 

I was a little biased at first because I thought Kevin would overshadow me and I felt he had seen plenty of high school rock and roll success already and quite frankly, I didn’t want to share my moment with him.  However, the other interesting angle was that the school would allow us to play two songs.  The one that the other band was working on ‘Feel Like Making Love’. 

After discussing it in detail, I chose to take a chance and see how it worked out during practice and you know what?  It rocked!  Dave knew all the rhythm guitar parts for ‘Freebird’ and Kevin said he’d just play along and have fun with it.  Kevin and I clicked and played with great synchronization at parts and traded off fills at others.  It was a blast and the beginning of a lifetime friendship.

The day of the show we were to play the other band’s song first and waited behind a closed curtain.  As we waited, Chris began to hit the first notes of ‘Dazed and Confused’ and after a bar or two I joined in.  The kids went crazy and the sound of their cheering was like a drug.  We stopped playing the impromptu jam and waited to be introduced.  The curtains opened as SMR (Southern Mass Rock) was introduced and we did a pretty good job with the first song.  Our classmates seemed to love it and all was good.

After a few other acts, it was time for SMR to take the stage again.  This time, everything really clicked.  We jammed on ‘Freebird’ like we’d been a band for years.  Seriously… It was surprisingly good.  I loved it and had an absolute blast.  More importantly, I became great friends with Kevin and he was in almost every band I played in from that point forward.

Embarrassing Footnote: I actually got carried away with the concept of the whole Southern Rock thing and wore cowboy boots, a leather vest and a cowboy hat for the show.  Not a pretty picture…