One Hit Wonder


Image Source: NCRTV

It actually was a lot like The Oneders.

And like all life-altering moments, it’s now a blur. We were in the car heading for…the practice space? Or a live interview on WBCN? Or maybe it was WFNX…no, it was a gig at the Linwood and Juanita played it on WBCN. That’s it, yeah. I’m pretty sure.

I became obsessed with rock ‘n roll and music in general early, and from the moment I picked up my first acoustic guitar ($35 new, tobacco sunburst with lousy intonation) I was dedicated to making it. Played it ‘till my fingers bled, if you will. I dreamed of touring with Van Halen (Diamond Dave forever!), selling out Madison Square Garden and, of course, enjoying all the spoils of decadence in the bus after the show. And I dreamed of hearing myself on the radio.

I dreamed of Berklee College of Music in Boston. At the recommendation of my band teacher in high school, I started with a year in the jazz program at the University of Maine at Augusta first. That turned into four years in a brilliant, enriching program, and by the time I got to Berklee I was young and disillusioned. I stayed in Boston and schlepped through my 20s, working data entry, call center jobs and feeling very much like a Langston Hughes Dream Deferred.

And then I started playing again. My band, The High Ceilings, went into the studio with Sir David Minehan, figurehead of the legendary Boston band The Neighborhoods, and we emerged with a sparkling EP, “Wavelength.” Sparkling enough to get airplay and a spot in the 2001 WBCN Rock ‘n Roll Rumble. Past winners included Till Tuesday and …The Neighborhoods. Nice!

And it was in the lead-up to the Rumble that we heard our single, “Look My Way,” on the radio. We were in the car heading to our space/interview/gig (or maybe it was our ritual de-briefing beers), and there we were, beaming out to Boston and beyond at 104.1 MHz. The moment of a lifetime had arrived.

We all played it fairly cool, keeping the moment close to the vest. No “I AM SPARTICUS!!!” and kissing cutouts in the appliance store for us (this would’ve been difficult to pull off while driving), but ultimately we couldn’t help it, and a four-way shit-eating grin spread across the car. We had goddamn made it! There was some back-slapping, but mostly we kept calm and carried on, since this would, of course, be only the first of many such times.

It happened a few more times after that, but that was the beginning of the end. We lost the Rumble in the first round, artistic and personal differences, day jobs, wives and kids…typical story. But I have that moment: the moment when dreams solidified and the grand payoff was mine.

Listen!
http://grooveshark.com/artist/The+High+Ceilings/2218620

Like!
http://www.facebook.com/BrianWestbyeWrites

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@BrianWestbye

14 comments
  1. Love it. I already told you everything else yesterday.

    • !!!!!!!!!!!!1

  2. writerwendyreid said:

    Must have felt amazing to hear your song on the radio. Akin to what I felt like when I saw the cover of my first novel at the Amazon store. I’m glad you got to experience that. I bet you remember exactly how it felt and I hope that you are able to call up those feelings when you need them. :-)

    • Yeah, seeing my title in print is next!

  3. I’ve never heard a song I’ve written on the radio, but hearing my lyrics put to music the first time was amazing for me!! Short-lived as the songwriting experience was for me, I enjoyed the hell out of it while it lasted :) Thanks for sharing this with us…

    • Why short-lived? I say keep going!

  4. Fantastic. And despite the way it ended, you’ll always have that moment!

    • Damn straight!

  5. I didn’t know you were a rockstar! Well, I knew you were an internet rockstar…

    How freakin’ cool. To have your dreams realized in that way must have felt amazing.

    • I’m a lucky bastard. ;) Of course I worked like crazy for it, but I’m very fortunate.

  6. My nephew is a guitarist and went to Berklee..believe me I can feel your passion through these words. SPARTICUS is spot on for that moment!

    • niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Fraha said:

    Even though your song was only a one hit wonder, I beleive that one song set the path to your future. GOOD ROCKIN OUT!!!

    • YES!!! This was the end of many driftwood years. Also, it’s a pretty damn fine pop song. Not a bad legacy if I do say so. *grin*

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