A poem is a song you
write when the band’s
gone home: an empty club with the
lights on, bartender preparing a bank
drop, waitress having one last
smoke before setting free the
babysitter; waiting for the van,
the pounding on the alley door, humping
the gear that gets
heavier every night, finally
home to a dark street, satisfaction and
loneliness, the list in your head of
things you could have done better,
falling asleep with ringing ears.
Poetry is the songs you write when
the band’s gone, and that’s fine;
see, now, the drummer’s not late, the singer’s not
drunk, no more painful shock from the microphone, or
broken strings, no asshole who
only wants to hear Zeppelin, no
bully bar owner, or drunks who
talk over love songs.
Dave Morrison sang, played guitar, and wrote songs for 20 years or so. “Music was my love,” he says. “I gave it everything, it was my identity, my ticket. I wasn’t interested in a hit single as much as I was interested in starting a fire.
“The first band was really good, and we came this close. The second band was even better, and we came almost as close. The third band was fierce and loose, a really good band, and we did even worse. It seemed like the better the band was, the better my songs were, the more indifferent the music business became.”
Dave gave it all up one night after the band played at a New York club called Bitter End.
“We were playing the same club, doing the same set for the same crowd. It had already ended, I just hadn’t realized it before.
“And when I stopped, the bottom fell out, because I no longer knew who I was, or what I was supposed to do. I was heartbroken, and then I got angry. All that work, and what did I have to show for it?”
Dave says, “When music beat me up and threw me out of the car I began to write.”
He began writing a book about the bands who play the clubs, night after night, and never get the glory, but do it anyway. And then he found his way to writing poetry.