Ben Rector released his new album on Tuesday. It’s called Into the Morning. It topped out at number six on the iTunes Pop Album charts. I’ve never been there. That’s what I say in conversation when I can’t relate. I was talking to a student from Saudi Arabia at lunch today. When he said he was from Saudi Arabia, I said, “I’ve never been there,” and then we went back to eating.
Ben was in my fraternity; he used to play a show in Fayetteville biweekly. Now he lives in Nashville; he’s touring with two other musicians, who at similar stages in their careers: unsigned but rising. I read a book on novel publication recently, and it described three authors who banded together and created their own book tour, with posters and chapbooks and rehearsed jokes. It sounds glamorous. When I was younger (21), I wanted to be in a national musical. I would sleep on the bus and warm up during the day. I would be best friends with the other chorus members because, let’s be honest, I wouldn’t have a leading part. I’d be part of the chorus. When I’m asked to make a list of things I like about myself, I write that I can be honest even in day dreams.
Fayetteville was the second stop on their tour. Tulsa was the first. As these are both Ben’s areas, he got to headline. When they get to the coast, another guy will headline. We didn’t listen much to the other guys. No one was really interested. One looked like Seth Cohen, but he didn’t produce the same laughs.
Last year, when Ben released his last album, Songs that Duke Wrote, he played a album release party in the same venue, George’s Majestic Lounge. The company that packaged his CD’s forgot to ship them. I was sleeping on his couch the night before when he woke me up. It was around nine. “Do you want to go to Dallas?” he asked me. “Lock and load,” I said, then he asked me again, and I said, oh wait, I am not dreaming? We were just about to take down that evil sloth/jaguar with Wolverine and Shadowcat. Shadowcat said she loved me.
We had to drive through a terrible storm in Oklahoma. We actually stopped on the interstate and called someone to consult the Doppler Radar. Doppler said the storm was a portent of evil tidings. I voted to press through it. I wasn’t driving. I actually wasn’t involved at all. I was along for the ride.
We slept from two to seven, when Ben picked up the CD’s, and then turned around to go straight home. We ate Wendy’s twice, at the same location in McAlester, halfway between Fayetteville and Dallas. And that night, I still had to pay for the album.
Consequently, in the 1990’s, my mom used to play at George’s Majestic Lounge. Back then it was called George’s Majestic Beer Garden. She was the lead singer in a cover band called “Decoy;” she also played tambourine. The lead guitarist was Dr. Gregg, the dentist who my mom worked for as a secretary. The only song I remember them playing is “Brown Eyed Girl.” Dr. Gregg now teaches Biology at the University. He gave me a 67% on my first test.