Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Nurse the Hate: Hate The Dream


Today when I asked this guy how he was doing, without a touch of irony, said he was "living the dream". I should point out that he sells cars for a living, so clearly as a boy his dreams must have been modest, and therefore very obtainable. I should also point out, that as a car salesman, I should not have been surprised by this response. It's not all bad though. It reminded me of a story I should tell you about Robert Gordon.

To those of you somehow uninitiated into the ins and outs of the 1980s rockabilly revival, Robert Gordon was one of the big "stars". He was signed to a major label (CBS maybe?), had a booming voice, and had Link Wray in tow as his guitar player. This guy had the total package. He played all obscure rockabilly cover tunes, which at the time were almost rumors more than actual songs you could get your hands on. All the stuff was out of print, so if you somehow figured out Johnny Burnette was cool, you'd have to shell out $58 for a used 45 or bad English album pressing. It was like Robert Gordon had access to a great record collection you didn't know even existed. On top of that, he was really good. Then factor in that he was dropping these amazing songs on your head that you had never heard before. Hell, Springsteen even gave him "Fire" to record. Like I said, he was en fuego.

Let's fast forward to the late 1990s. Robert Gordon got dropped by his label after a bunch of records, and Link split to go to Europe. He completely dropped out of sight for years until some well intentioned soul in Columbus decided to get Robert out on tour again. They may have been small rooms, but Robert and His Handler treated them like they were stadium shows. Detroit's Twistin' Tarantulas acted as his backing band, and Robert picked up a nice little check in places like Wilbert's in Cleveland, Little Brother's in Columbus, etc. Our band (The Cowslingers) landed the gig to open for him, and I was really excited to see him play. The fact we got to play too was all gravy. He was one of the guys that really sparked my interest in rockabilly, and I must've listened to his versions of "Lonesome Train", "The Way I Walk", and "Black Slacks" a million times.

We played our quick set, and I walked "backstage" (which was really the kitchen, office and parking garage at Wilbert's). The Twistin Tarantulas started their set, and the plan was Robert would join them in the middle as they played some sort of grand entrance music for him. As I sat there in the office cooling off, a distracted Robert Gordon walks in with His "Handler" leading the way. I introduced myself, and he looked past me while shaking my hand. "Hey ya...howya doin'..." The Handler asked Robert if he needed anything, and Robert sent him on a quest for water and towels (just like Elvis!). Suddenly it was quiet and uncomfortable as Robert, my brother Ken, and I all stared at each other. None of us really had anything to say, and we all hesitated to initiate conversation.

The Handler then returns, and says Robert has to go (to the parking garage to get away from us I guess). So as Robert Gordon exits, he pointed to us while simultaneously snapping his finger and said "Keep the dream alive.". Pow!

So now when I hear a car salesman tell me he's "living the dream", I think of Robert Gordon.

3 Comments:

At December 13, 2007 at 9:55:00 AM EST , Blogger ScottyJ said...

Keep the deam alive?!? Really??

Why is it that almost every time we get an opportunity to meet someone we've looked up to they disappoint us?

Are there that few talented people who also happen to be stand-up folks? If so, then that's just sad.

 
At December 14, 2007 at 1:59:00 PM EST , Blogger Greg Miller said...

Robert wasn't a jerk or anything, he just didn't really care about meeting us. Frankly, if I had been him, I wouldn't have cared either.

Off of the top of my head, the great guy list includes Link Wray, Hasil Adkins, Pat from the Smithereens, and Donny Osmond (no kidding).

 
At December 14, 2007 at 4:19:00 PM EST , Blogger ScottyJ said...

No, I didn't mean to imply that Robert was being a jerk, more along the lines of being kinda phoney-baloney.

I'm sure there's worse places to be other than Wilbert's kitchen, but somehow I doubt it was much of a "dream" for him.

 

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