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Be the Mule Blog

Wilco and Tour Dreams and 5 Years Drug Free

On these tours, sleeping is done in short segments. Three or four hours on a bus, a couple hours after the show, and so on. There’s little time for dreaming, or remembering.

A few days ago in southern Argentina, we had our chance at a first full night of sleep in some time. We were given an A frame wood cabin, at the base of a large in mountain in El Bolson, to sleep in. There was a small glass window next to my bed, on the top floor, that looked out over the small city, and allowed the mountain night air to come through. I wish we could have stayed longer. 

We had played a concert at a culture space in the city, people of all ages, a really warm and adventurous, inquisitive, forward crowd. 

I slept hard and dreamt hard.

I dreamt that I was at a large festival type of concert. There was a big black stage constructed in a green field, and a somewhat sparse crowd. I was standing in the field, not really listening, not knowing who was playing. I was invited to play by the band. I was somewhere behind where the soundman sets up at these types of shows, in the middle of the crowd, center. I realized I had been invited to play and started walking towards the stage. Somehow my guitar and effects were set up. They were far stage right, with the amplifier on wheels and my pedals on a board (this is how you know its a dream). My gear was set a bit back from the band, but there was also a microphone set up nearer the front of the stage.

I approached the stage and its not really clear what happened. I realized the band to be Wilco, an American rock band I like very much, but thought I hadn't spent a lot of time thinking about recently. I got on stage, kind of just appeared there, as I don’t remember climbing any steps or anything, and I began to play. I was really bad, and knew it, struggling, and then trying to overcompensate. It was a horrid feeling. I realized I was very drunk. (I have been sober for nearly 5 years). I was drunk and trying to hide it but the band knew it, and the crowd knew it. I tried again too hard, walking to the microphone and singing but nothing came out. My mouth missed the microphone. I was embarrassed. I felt physically sick, not drunk sick, but sad and shame sick. The band started physically moving away from me in the dream to where I was isolated stage right but somehow had more space than all of them. The song ended, Im not sure what song it was, don’t remember the music in the dream, maybe there was no music. I saw the band leave the stage. I was still there, not really falling over, but not really standing up. They didn’t scoff or treat me poorly or anything, but I was deeply hurt and embarrassed. I started to walk off the stage but then thought perhaps I could try to make it right, walking back to the microphone and trying to play something more. I don’t know what it was, but it did not work. The band had left at this point. The crowd had left. I looked down and saw grey the metal bars of a security fence. I was drunk and ashamed and on a big stage and I could not hide it. There was nothing to do. 

That is the last thing I remember before I woke up, with the feeling something terrible had happened. Shame in awaking. It took me a few minutes to put things together, that this was a dream, it had not happened, that I was not hungover. 

Memory hangs around just enough to remind you who you could have been. Thank you to the many people who believed I could better, encouraged me to do so, and have supported me in recovery. I hope I can help others the way you have helped me. I don’t live with that shame anymore, the daily wounds from the self. Thank you for that. And thank to the almighty art of sound, our dear music.

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