Last week, we were in Portland, Oregon for a short-but-awesome visit. We got to spend a lot of quality time with family and friends, including this lady, these people, my former roommate and an old friend from high school whom I hadn’t seen in 13 years or so. It was wonderful and really solidified our resolve to move there. It rained almost the entire time.
But the real reason we went, the thing that caused us to impulse-buy plane tickets, was that Dave, our dearest friend, was having his record-release show for The Ram Project, a meticulous cover of Paul McCartney’s second album. He did this by himself, in his spare room, in only one month. This is a good recap of the story.
For the live show, he hired members of the incredibly talented band Musée Mécanique, as well as Joan Hiller, who sang the Linda McCartney parts. They were scheduled to play only three shows in the Northwest, but they put in a lot of practice. Nothing was half-assed. And here’s the thing: They were insanely, mind-blowingly great. By the end, the entire audience was cheering, fist-pumping and singing along.
Truly one of the most fun nights of my life.
And it was the first time in many, many months that I went out of my way to take pictures at a show. Meaning that I elbowed my way up to the stage and took hundreds of shots. I knew I would need them; my lens and the Doug Fir have never seen eye-to-eye.
Here’s one that you know.
This was not the first time that I had seen Dave cover songs by a Beatle — he and my brother sang a duet of “Here Comes the Sun” when RZ and I got married. Even then, I knew that Dave was destined for much greater things than being a wedding singer.
I don’t know if he remembers this, but when we were sophomores in high school, we had to take this super-lame class called Personal Finance. It was taught by a man who was so bland that he has become invisible in my imagination. It was the worst class I’ve ever taken, including elementary school PE. One day, we had to do a planning session with a partner for the purpose of talking about our career goals and how we would achieve them.
15-year-old Me: What do you want to be when you grow up?
15-year-old Dave: A rock star. How about you?
15-year-old Me: That’s cool. I want to be a doctor.
Yeah. Which one of those sounded more realistic to Mr. Bland Finance?
Looking back on it, I can honestly say that Dave’s was far more grounded in reality. Music has always been the focus of his existence: He is dedicated, he works really hard, he collaborates and he’s generous about supporting his colleagues — all hallmarks of a true professional in any field. If you don’t do those things in your career, chances are you’re in it for the wrong reasons.
I didn’t actually want to be a doctor, but I enjoyed the fact that it made my family proud. I feel lucky that I realized early on that my optimal talent-enjoyment quotient lay in writing. This was thanks to another teacher, whom I haven’t forgotten at all. He taught chemistry and gave me my copy of Water Music, the first TC Boyle book I ever read.
The Internet is always saying that you should follow your passion and that the universe will ensure that you don’t starve. So far, evidence suggests that the Internet is right on this one.