Life makes more sense with pop music.
Also, I didn’t do too much research to make sure I got these years right. This is my life, after all, and if I confuse 1998 with 1999, well, that’s my right.
2004: “The First of the Gang to Die” by Morrissey
In September of 2004, for the first time since I was seventeen years old, I was out of work. When other teachers were getting ready for a new school year, I was getting ready for nothing. Frustrated with teaching, disappointed by a career misstep, and basically furious at everyone, I did what anyone with sense would do. I went on tour with my band.
The tour was a bitter failure. We played to empty venues; we got into ugly arguments. The six of us in the tour van bickered constantly, and whatever fun we were supposed to be having playing music was a joke. I was playing an enormous Hammond organ that weighed a ton, and I had to carry that beast up and down stairs and in and out of basements. The keys kept breaking off, and I’d have to mend them with popsicle sticks.
Meanwhile, my wife was back home, trying to carry on without much money coming in. I’d call her before shows. I’d be sitting in whatever bar we were playing that night, watching the Bush vs. Kerry campaigns on the closed-captioned T.V. over the bartender’s head. We’d talk for a little while; I’d promise to be careful, she’d promise to hang in there.
That didn’t last too long. I eventually abandoned the tour, and the band, and the Sissyphean Hammond organ, and have never wanted to get back out on the road again.
A good song has the ability to bring cheer to even the most unpleasant situations. There was one thing that we all agreed upon during that doomed trip, and that was that we loved “The Last of the Gang to Die,” Morrissey’s most recent single and, for my money, one of the best songs of his solo period. Someone would put this on the cd player in the tour van and we could all, for a moment, stare out of the van windows and smile.