I spent a good bit of my time as a young musician trying to prove that I had the maturity and gravitas to contribute to the river of art and creativity I was thirsting after. I now spend a good part of my adult musician life trying to prove that I am still relevant to and can give something back to that same river from which I drank. It seems an unfair, albeit natural turn of events that I am now far better at all aspects of my craft than I was at a time when I could most easily capitalize on those exploits.
I play my old Martin D-35 with fingers brandishing decades of calluses, more nimble and discerning than they were back when I tried too hard. I’m able to play notes and chords with ease but have learned over the years that my most impressive notes are the ones that I leave un-played. When I’m not battling the springtime Nashville curse of allergies and some form of lung-crud, my voice is an instrument that does exactly what I want it to do. It’s time-tested. It’s even enhanced surgically, thanks to the Vanderbilt Voice Center where I had marble sized polyps removed a couple of decades back. I have finally learned that just because I have the volume to do with it what I will, it’s finesse and not power that makes my voice credible. Songwriting too is a beneficiary of the years. Though it’s true I don’t have as many hits as some of my close Nashville friends and co-writers, I may have one better (though not necessarily a pocketbook virtue.) I have life under my belt. I no longer have to rely on my professional empathy or more accurately, my ability to make stuff up even if I have no idea what I’m talking about. I have loved completely and have lost completely. I have racked up an impressive amount of personal mistakes, missteps, and purposeful blunders, which when I write about them, you will most definitely feel it in your marrow. And when you don’t, I know I just didn’t do my job very well.
So I am better at it all now. It’s just that the characteristics that reflect a life full of living don’t seem like attributes appreciated by today’s commercial industry. I wish I had more hair and less stomach. I wish I had less debt and more money. I wish I had more fame and less underground bonafides. The truth is though, I wouldn’t want to go back in time and run the risk of not writing the songs that came from the life I have been given. But damn, I wouldn’t throw a little disproportionate success out of bed in the morning!
This blog is a band blog, and, I feel like I can speak for my beloved bandmates as I do for myself. Thankfully, they give me significant leeway to do so. Gary and I started making music together and scheming upon a successful musical career over 24 years ago. We’re still at it. Our first record together came out in 1993 called “Flight of Dreams.” That flight continues, if not younger, wiser. If not wiser, than far more care-a-less for sure. My birthday is coming up in a few short weeks, as is his. Now let’s just say that Gary is wiser and more care-a-less than I am by a couple of years. It’s just that he eats more vegetables than I do, and I eat more hamburgers than he does, so I wind up looking far more the sage than I should. Malinda just had a birthday. Even so, she has not caught up with us yet, and she is still the “baby of the band.” That is a fact, by the way, that she does not let go unannounced whenever the calling hits her. But her songs, her singing and the way her bow crosses her fiddle strings comes from the very river of life I speak of.
No matter our age or station in life, it can be said that Runaway Home is not a young band or an untested one. But we are a hungry band. We are passionate and we are hell-bent to do what we love. All three of us bear the scars of admission to our second act and come by the moniker, “indie-band” as honestly as anyone. We are ready to put the dues we’ve paid to work for us. Love and loss, troubled and trialed, pained and penniless. In terms of currency, they are all one hundred dollar bills, and we have saved up a lot of them. And now, we’re ready to spend them all on a glutinous spree of passionate singing, laid bare-songwriting and a heartfelt playing of the instruments. And if we ever run out of that money, we have a line of credit extending into the next life. It’s called being blissfully unsatisfied. And we are thankful for it!
Mark Elliott – Runaway Home
“Its The Music That Makes Us Smile”
Filed under: The Big Picture