My name is Road Dog and I am another rock’n’roll casualty. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to invoke any war imagery or trying to liken myself to a soldier in any way. I get pissed when athletes get called warriors or pretend they are going to battle. Leaving the road is more like getting out of prison after serving your white collar sentence. The world continued moving on while you were away and it is up to you to catch up.
Relationships were the hardest thing to maintain. I group them all together – romantic, friendships and everything in between. Those childhood friendships were probably the first to feel the strain. Suddenly you are part of a fantasy world to them. They are filled with questions and requests. They want tickets, they want swag, they want to be part of your new world. These are your friends so, at first, you try to share it with them. Some can’t handle it, they are overwhelmed by seeing a rock star up close and don’t know how to act. Others resent you for your choice in career and badmouth you behind your back. They tell people you have changed, that you have become a name dropper or have gone Hollywood. What they see as name dropping is actually you just telling a story, like saying Dave just got a new car. Nobody would see Dave as namedropping, unless his last name was Roth. You try to adjust and play down things when you are around these people but it is too late, the fracture is there and not going to heal. Some friends remain just that, your friends. The few that do are there for life and you appreciate them even more when life on the road is over and you just want to hang out.
Romantic relationships change too. You have spent months apart and suddenly you are there all the time. Your whole time on the road you looked forward to the day you could be with that person more and now that it has happened you are both learning to deal with it. All that time away meant developing solo habits. By week three you start to see that you enjoyed having alone time and have to learn how to have it without messing with their feelings. Chances are they are feeling the same way. Most of your time away was spent telling each other you can’t wait to be together, now what is there to talk about?
Last week you were tossing a football around in MSG and this week you are buying replacement bulbs for the fan above the stove. Your pocket full of per diem money is not being replenished daily and you can’t trade picks, signed pictures or t-shirts for the replacement bulb. Two weeks ago you were standing in the middle of an empty stadium watching rock legends soundcheck a bunch of Led Zeppelin songs and today you are listening to the local DJ make small talk about the weather.
Life off the road is a quiet place. You lie in bed and wonder when the ringing in your ears will stop. You realize how bad your back really is when you don’t have to force yourself out of bed to make bus call. You learn that Monday is garbage day and you need to get it to the curb by 7am. There is no crowd roaring in anticipation when you walk across your deck. By the third week you finally unpack your clothes and start using the walk-in closet. You stop packing your toothbrush and razor and leave it in the bathroom. Why do you have 50 Ramada pens again? What are you supposed to wear besides Show Power t-shirts? Why was it that your nail polish seemed normal when you wore a tour laminate but now seems like your are going through some sort of identity crisis? Why do I feel that I need access to the “employees only” section at Lowes?
One year ago they couldn’t pay you enough to stay on the road, today you would pay for a 2 week vacation on a tour bus.