Now that everybody shows up these days their own little metal tubes covered with buttons and lights, and filled whatever special blend they’ve cooked up, pot is more like a designer drug than the sacrament it was in my day. But it’s still like a street drug: you never know what you’re getting. I must have gotten the tube with the paraquat in it, because my head is just now starting to clear.
You couldn’t avoid the stuff backstage before the gig last Thursday. The tubes were everywhere! And foolishly, I accepted one. Suddenly, everyone began to chatter like hyenas. “It’s gonna be great! It’s gonna be great!" But as I watched the walls melt into a puddle around my feet, I wasn’t so sure.
In my world, you really gotta keep on people if you want to be sure that things won’t get fucked up. Here, everything was chaos. People I didn’t know kept grabbing me right before I was supposed to go on, putting things in my hand and instructing me to hold still while they took pictures. I began to panic. Where are Cris and Curt? Where is the set list? How do we get to the stage? Is someone going to come and find us? “It’s gonna be great!”
And it was! I had already used up all my gags during my conversation with the mayor earlier in the evening, so all managed was a quick “fuck the president” before we lept into our first number. And suddenly I got it.
I hadn’t touched the drums in over fifteen years, and hadn’t been on stage in twenty. During our brief rehearsals, I’d been trying much too hard; trying to be too clever. But in the actual moment, the magic asserted itself with an authority that took my breath away. I relaxed, joined the audience and just enjoyed the show, letting the music do most of the work.
Apparently, a “Hall of Fame” induction of some kind or another had been scheduled for the same night. But for us, it was a Puppets show. Folks that didn’t get it cleared out quick and left the rest of us to our own devices. We took our time, rediscovering one another and exploring old connections. Later, they told me the stage was rotating, but I never noticed. They also told me that lots of people had tears in their eyes.
I learned things about the Meat Puppets that I had either forgotten or never knew. A couple weeks ago, my brother said to me, “you know, you’re too close to it to really understand what an amazing thing the Meat Puppets really is.” I politely agreed with him at the time, but it really hit home during the show.
Trying to put it into words would be a ridiculous, futile exercise. But after spending some time with both brothers, I’m really struck by the sacrifices they’ve made in order to stay true to themselves. It always used to bug me how cross they would get whenever I would intrude upon them with details right before we went on. Somehow, it never occurred to me how little any of that stuff really mattered.
I took the easy way out. I get money deposited to my bank account twice a month. Sure, I have to work for it, but I figure it’s a fair exchange for the privilege of getting to sleep in my own bed. To me, it was always about wresting back control of my life. But these days, it seems like we’re all losing control, and we may all soon have to start making sacrifices of our own. Hopefully, we’ll make the right ones. I guess what I learned at the show is just how much you can let go and still leave plenty of room for what really counts.
Now that the fair is moving on and the Puppets are off to the next gig, I wanted to thank everyone for the nice wishes, both from the social media and from those of you I saw in person Thursday night. It was a wonderful night for everyone who remembers the Phoenix scene from back in the day.
But it was also bittersweet for a lot of us. There was a time when going out every other weekend to see your friends play cool gigs was a regular part of life. But you get busy, and life goes on. And now it's really sinking in just how special those days really were. And now -- fuck -- we've all gotta go back and get busy with our lives. But it was nice that we all came together to experience the INDESTRUCTIBLE POWER OF ROCK AND ROLL once again!
Thanks very much to Danny Zelisko and the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall Of Fame for making it happen!