Last night I had dinner with a famous guy who was once part of a famous band.
I don’t really know this guy. His wife invited us over to remedy that. So there I was eating on some yummy fake meat tacos – my wife, him, his wife, our noisy kids running everywhere – when his story was told: Signed a record deal shortly after college. Huge song on the radio shortly after that. Money rolled in. Bought a house. Touring Spring, Fall and Summer and now Christmas? Recording on “days off” to get that next huge song on the radio. Wife not so happy about all this. Label and band not so happy about her being not so happy about all this. Tension. More money. More travel. More tension. More radio singles to promote and tours to jump on. More money. More tension. Realization that the band and the label and the manager and the label will always want more money and will never slow down and he and his wife will never enjoy this kind of life as much as the other guys say they do. He quits the band.
He’s happier now. His wife is happier now. They have kids now. Beautiful kids who don’t know he’s famous and wouldn’t care. His house is smaller now. His face isn’t on magazine covers now and he’s not on the radio. He won’t be downtown next week. He won’t win a(nother) Dove award or Grammy ever. But he’s happier.
And people in the music business run into him sometimes at the mall, on a day off between sessions or tours, and they look at him through sunglasses, with pity bending their eyebrows, tilt their head slightly to one side and most sincerely ask, “Are you doin’ OK? Really?”
“Yes,” he says. “Great.”
(I think I just made a new friend.)