While tooling down the highway heading to the next gig, road musicians have lots of entertainment sources they never used to have: the smart phone, the video game, the iPod, even the book (prior to the 15th century, this luxury wasn’t available either; traveling musicians pretty much had to stare into space and try to avoid being clubbed by the occasional highwayman).
Since the advent of the mobile phone, there’s a unique form of road entertainment that also helps pass the time: listening in on one-sided conversations of fellow band members. Hearing only one half of these conversations is really better than hearing the whole thing because you get to imagine what’s being said on the other end.
We hear one half of business deals being made, one half of marital rows, one half of conversations with young children who are easily distracted by what the dog just did, and the list goes on.
One of my personal favorites (and I speak from experience) is hearing the parent’s conversation with a boy under the age of seven and trying to picture the scene at the other end. It might go something like this:
“Hello, it’s Daddy! . . . No, I’m not home yet . . . Oh really? Did your mother say that was okay? . . . Does your sister want to be in jail? Did you answer? Remember I can’t see you when you nod your head . . . I don’t think the kitty likes to be carried by her tail . . . Oh, I’m sorry . . .You’ve got three bandaids on it. Wow! . . . No it’s definitely not a good idea to eat bird poop . . . Okay, I’d better . . . Hello? Are you still there?”
Then there’s the tense conversation between husband and wife, with the one being overheard trying to keep it as subtle as possible:
“Yes, I know . . . . Yes, we already talked about that . . . Sure, but . . . Yes, but . . . I didn’t say that . . . That wasn’t my idea . . . I know that . . . (in hushed tones) We’ve already been through this . . . Okay, can we maybe just talk about this when I get home . . . right . . . as in not now . . .”
You know this isn’t going well, when the one on the road pretends to lose cell service.
Then there’s the affectionate exchange between spouses or significant others, with the one riding down the road with band members feeling too self-conscious to really open up:
“Yes, me too . . . I mean about you . . . I mean what you said is the same for me . . . in regards to you . . . Yes, right back at ya . . . definitely. . . I agree . . . Talking to you is . . . well, it’s good . . . ditto that . . .”
Then there’s the musician who does his or her own booking from the road, speaking to what sounds like a festival promoter or event producer of some kind:
“Great to hear from you! It’s been a while. . . . Oh, well I did call you three times last week . . . Yes, I understand . . . Uh-huh . . . Sure . . . September 15th? Hold on, let me check that (pausing to look at completely blank calendar page) . . . Yes, it looks like we’re open . . . Uh . . . well . . . That’s less than we did it for two years ago . . . I hear you . . . yes, gas prices have hurt us, too . . . yes, but if we can just keep . . . right . . . uh-huh . . . yeah, they’re good, too . . . okay, but . . . I didn’t actually agree to that price yet . . . “
Or one that went worse than that one. The festival cold call:
“Hello, we’ve never played your event before, I’m Davis Harrison of the band Lazy Cabin . . . yes, we just released our 7th CD for Valley Dale records. Our newest one was on the charts for 96 weeks and was nominated for 5 awards . . . Yes, Lazy Cabin, that’s right. . . Yes, we do have CDs out. That’s what I was telling you about . . . our latest one was . . . yes, very traditional . . . uh-huh . . . Davis Harrison . . . No, I don’t think we’re related . . . Okay, well, maybe I’ll contact you about 2019 then. . . same to you.”
Worse still (and this happened to me):
“Hello! Glad to finally reach you. . . . Yes, well I was checking on dates for next year. When I last talked to you four months ago you had recommended that I call you this week, so . . . Oh . . . I’m so sorry . . . How long ago did she die? . . . Oh, three days ago is very recent . . . Well, this is certainly not an ideal time to . . . Sure . . . I hope it’s a very nice service . . . You’ll be in my prayers.”
And of course we all love this one:
“ . . . My account . . . Billing Question . . . BILLING QUESTION . . . Representative . . . REP-RES-ENT-A-TIVE! . . . . . . . . . . . Oh hello, I had a question about an unexplained 69 dollar charge on my phone bill . . . Sure, but I just keyed in that information . . . okay . . . Sure, I can hold . . . . Hello? Hello?”