By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection,
which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.
he musician's road provides an abundance of valuables: new people, places, scenery and experience. One thing it does not provide much of is privacy.
This is especially true if you're traveling in a van, which for most musicians is the sore reality. Band vehicles are rigged-up in all sorts of ways to provide tiny bits of privacy, usually just for a lucky few who win a coin toss, or wait their turn to occupy those spots. For all intents and purposes however, you are 24/7 living with your bandmates. You will get to know them very well; you will have very few private moments.
Consider the environment. If music is organized noise, a group of musicians stuck in a vehicle is DISorganized noise. Business meetings, arguments, story-telling and other forms of advanced lying, recorded music, live music... all transpiring in the vehicle during the day and into the evening.
But there is a rarified time when the road's noise and chaos are muted, when a band member can be privately reflective. Fall, being a reflective time of year, is the appropriate backdrop to discuss this time: the all-night drive.
During an all-night drive, especially after a night's work and a few beers, the noise of the boisterous van abates; the peaceful hum of tires coursing over the highway becomes the soundtrack. For the driver, it's precious time to yourself; time to think and consider and debate.
I've driven the night shift hundreds of times; quiet-spent hours doing the same thing over and over. Those hours spent reflecting about... everything, mean a lot to me. They provided the playing field to make some of the most important decisions of my adult life. Should I get married? Should I stay in the music business? Should I pull into this 7-Eleven for some ice cream?
Well, regardless of the specifics, the chance to privately think breaks the intensity of the 24/7 life and helps clear and reset the imagination. The night shift, with its privacy and peace, and blackness and hypnotic quality, helps you understand or remember that being on the road is not just making a living, but also participating in a process. And though this process may seem a hectic blur of antics and stories and work, ultimately, it results in you making music for others to enjoy, to take them away, even a little, from the hectic blur of their own lives.