“Don’t quit your day job!” Contrary to that old saying among professional, semi-professional or (in my case) semi-amateur musicians, I am quitting my day job in 60 work days… or one fiscal quarter… or 13 weeks… I could break it down to minutes but I’ll spare you my pain.
36 years ago, in December 1976 after escaping the blizzard of a decade and driving cross country, I arrived in California with my hot shot band ready to embark on our professional music career, not withstanding the fact that I could hardly play a lick and that I hadn’t given much thought to any real plan except to find the next gig.
Did I mention that I had no money at all to live on while our dream was coming true? With that condition clouding my short term visions of grandeur, I took a job through a temporary agency and was placed at a factory in Menlo Park (California not New Jersey). It was very clear in my mind that this job was just to tide me over and to get a little bankroll going to fund my part of our leap to stardom.
As none of us were independently wealthy, the rest of the band found themselves in the same situation and consequently in the workforce, albeit temporarily while we got our feet on the ground. During the next few weeks or months, when we got together for rehearsals or gigs we would kid each other using the axiom I included at the top of the page, “don’t quit your day job”………..yet!
Months turned into years and bands and band members came and went. A couple of the band hiatuses stretched in to double digit years. Oh yeah! we stopped joking about quitting our day jobs.
I know, I know, it is a cliché but it is also relevant here so I am going use it………………… I told you that so I could tell you this.
The job I am quitting this spring is the same one I took in January 1977. Sure there have been many changes, reorganizations, promotions, etc. and I will say that the company I work for today “is not the same outfit I signed on to” but it is the company that evolved from that one I temporarily joined back then. Actually, the corner office I sit in today is mere feet from the spot, where on my first day, I was assigned to run a multi-ton hydraulic molding machine. For sure, I knew a lot less about operating that machine than I did about playing bass and I guarantee I wasn’t winning any bass player of the year awards then (or now for that matter).
Finally though, I made it. I now have my feet on the ground and I can quit my short term day job and get back to my full time musical career, right !!!. The other thing 36 years can do for you is make you wiser (just by surviving it I suppose). No more big time musician for me, just picking for fun. Obviously, I’m a writer now…..wait, I hope I don’t need to get a temporary job until I make it as writer. I don’t have that much more time.
So as you probably surmise, I am retiring in April. Not quitting my day job! Just moving on to hanging out more with Linda, picking, making beer, growing vegetables, travelling in our RV, drinking tequila and did I mention picking. The past 36 years went by at the speed of light. However the days (minutes and seconds) since I have announced my retirement have slowed to a glacier like pace. I am ready to get on with it.
On a somewhat curious note, my close friend, cross country travelling partner in December1976 and an excellent guitar player and musician, got placed in the same company in a neighboring factory at the same time I did, again with the purpose of staving off the hounds until the big break came. His temporary job lasted as long as mine and he’s finally quitting his day job as well. Don’t know exactly what he is planning to do but I bet it has lots to do with the closets full of musical instruments he plays and the recording studio set up in his house. Actually, I plan on dropping by with my bass, some homemade beer and some good tequila. You never know what could happen.
Catch you in February, when it will be 35 workdays to go and I’ll still be counting feverishly.
If you are one of the unlucky ones not at the Great 48 this weekend, remember you can still come jam with the Santa Clara Valley Fiddlers in San Jose at the Hoover Middle School at Park and Naglee on Sunday.