When it came time to end the show, we finished with an old James Taylor song. I don’t like any of James Taylor’s music except for the first three albums. The song I picked was “Carolina in my Mind.” It made sense because I was moving to North Carolina the next day. It was a song James recorded in 1968 back when he was a better and hungrier artist. He was also a full-blown heroin addict.
After we finished the song, I grabbed my Takamine in one hand and a bag full of Lee Oscar harmonicas in the other and just walked out the door that was behind the stage. Wendy was waiting for me in the parking lot. She was there to drive me home. I left behind a pair of EV cabinets, a 600 watt main amp, a 300 watt monitor amp, and a stack of effects racks. I told my singer to take them down to Backstage Music to put them all on consignment. I never played for money again.
When we got home that night, Wendy and I just rolled out a sleeping bag in middle of the empty apartment. We talked until we fell asleep. I got in the U-Haul late the next morning to make the 12-hour drive to North Carolina. Sixteen hours and one flat tire later I pulled up to Wrightsville Beach. It was about three o’clock in the morning when I walked out onto the beach and sat down under Johnny Mercer’s pier.
As I looked out over the ocean and waited for the sun to come up, I couldn’t help but think about the heroin addict who sang so beautifully just the night before. What a waste of talent, I thought. I would never hear him sing again. I never even saw him again. Looking back, I don’t even remember his name.
… To be continued.