Tuesday, November 24, 2020

How Famous Did You Want To Be?: Live From The Ramada Inn Lounge!

When my first serious band began to go in search gigs in our little corner of the American rust belt, circa 1985, the thought of spending even one evening in a Ramada Inn lounge scared us straight and convinced us that the only way to avoid such a fate was by writing and performing our own material. 

A few short years later, there I was as a solo artist playing "TBA" opening slots for any number of major label acts on the hockey rink circuit.

Glamorous? Sure, but once the stage lights go down, all any high riding rock star who happens to find themselves spending the night in Boise, Idaho can do is head back to the local Ramada Inn, stop off in your room for a bit, and, you guessed it, wander down to the fucking lounge until closing time.

I recognized the irony immediately and fell into a momentary pit of despair as it dawned on me that my highly ambitious and costly quest for fame and fortune beyond my wildest dreams had led me back to the one place I was trying to avoid most of all.

It was in many a dark lounge, however, that I enjoyed numerous heart-to-heart conversations with rock stars both big and small, asking as many as I could the question that I always found most interesting:

"How famous did you want to be?"

On one occasion, there was a guitarist for a band that I very much liked as a kid whose hard exterior had made connecting with him after shows near-impossible. One night, though, with everyone sloshed and feeling no pain, I hit him with the question and he didn't stop talking until sun up.

It is the one question that no musician seems fully prepared to answer without first having to swirl it around in their minds for a little while.

The obvious reply is to state that you simply wanted nothing more than to be bigger than the Beatles as a kid, but as you commit more and more of yourself to this crazy dream, some of us revise our answers while others never seem to revisit the subject ever again, yet, in hindsight, there is no greater question a musician can ask themselves first thing every morning.

Especially if waking up to a fistful of phone numbers scrawled on Ramada Inn drink napkins.

So, how famous did I want to be?

As hilarious as it sounds, I was always shooting for a level of fame no higher than, say, the Hooters or the Outfield. You know, a couple nice radio hits to keep the royalty checks rolling in long after that first blast of MTV fame recedes. 

Truth be told, all I ever wanted was just a taste of the rare air and, lets face it, when was the last time Rob Hyman had to worry about being accosted by fans everywhere he went? 

Meanwhile, two decades after her last big hit, Madonna still needs a security team to run out and grab a gallon of milk at the corner store.

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