I know it’s a picture of an airplane. Stick with me on this.
I’m getting a new pickup. Not the truck kind, the guitar kind. It’s coming today according to the online tracking information. I ordered it on Thursday and at any point I can look it up on my phone and see where it is. Last night it spent the night in Eagan.
I used to build model airplanes as a kid. Now the picture makes sense, right? The kind that flew. Balsa wood and tissue paper. Exacto knives and attention to detail. The kicker was that I lived in Liberia West Africa. And yes, this was pre-internet, youngsters. So to order a kit you would write to the company in Iowa (Sig) and order a catalog. A month or two later you’d get the catalog. You’d pour over the catalog for days and weeks and figure out how much you could get for the US currency you had. Then you’d send in your order and miraculously, 6-12 weeks later, the kit would arrive. Usually. Late 80′s Liberian Post Offices weren’t exactly the height of dependability. Talk about anticipation. And risk. No guarantees. But holy cow was I excited when those models arrived!
Next Wednesday I get to spend 8 days touring down to Arkansas and back and I can’t wait. Touring is my favorite part about being an independent performing songwriter – not to mention it’s a big part of my income. For each contact along the way I’ve got emails, work numbers, cell phone numbers, google maps, gps on my phone. And when I needed to replace the pickup on my weissenborn style guitar I was able to not only find the one I wanted, but I found one that was used (cheaper) and googled around for a coupon code and got another 20% off. And now I’m tracking it’s journey around the country to my doorstep. No waiting for catalogs, no iffy post office shenanigans, no currency exchange… what a different world we live in.
And yet maybe not. Despite these amazing conveniences we can’t underestimate the human factor. When it comes to dealing with each other the anticipation and risk is back. The guarantees get thrown out the window. I am under no illusion that I’ll be playing for packed rooms and attentive crowds. I’ve played for empty rooms before and I’ve been the drowned out background music. But I’ve also, after strings of bad gigs, had a well lit stage, a sound man that still had his hearing, and a group of listeners that actually listened. And (knock on wood) I’ll see the same next week on the road.
It might seem overly calculated and well laid out, but when it comes down to it’s all a big risk. And I think risk is evidence of Love.