I awoke with a knee in my back and a song in my head. Crammed into a bed with Julie and Jacob, I teetered on the edge hanging over a gap between the mattress and the wall. I never expected to have Roger Daltrey screaming in my skull at 9:00 on a Saturday morning. Alas, there he was and there he has stayed all week singing “Rebel,” the Bryan Adams/Jim Vallance-penned tune from his 1985 album, Under a Raging Moon.
Each trip back to Ohio conjures up new old memories. This summer the thoughts of the past have been thicker than ever as I continue to experiment with writing a book. The story I hope to tell deals with my formative years in North Olmsted, the people I was involved with, and the music I listened to the most at the time. Daltrey’s solo record occupied a great deal of time on the turntable. While other songs on Under a Raging Moon received radio airplay and the title track gained attention for its tribute to Keith Moon, this one track, which Adams and Vallance wrote specifically for the Who frontman, was my favorite. It’s raw, emotional, and reflective about returning to your hometown after leaving on your own terms, and I don’t think anyone can inhabit the number like Daltrey did.
Back in the ’80s, while I toiled away my free time in my parents’ basement, I longed for fame and fortune, hoping to become a famous movie director, someone who could change the world with powerful stories only I could tell. My hometown in the Cleveland suburbs felt constrictive, as if I would never achieve my dreams there. It wasn’t just the walls of the basement that were closing in; it was the whole damn city. The world seemed bigger outside the city limits; I felt like I was bigger than North Olmsted. Once I left I never wanted to come back.
A notion had been driven into my head since the first day of college that career choice defined your life and backing down from that make you weak. I spent years afraid that thinking anything other than “I want to make it big” equated failure. I went out to Hollywood, sold a few scripts, directed a movie, but I wasn’t changing lives; I wasn’t achieving the lofty career goals I’d set for myself. However, there were other dreams I had back then while I listened to rock and roll and imagined what the future held. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with a marvelous woman, maybe have some kids, creating a family like the one I’d grown up in. That dream has come true; that goal has become more important than the number of movies I make or seeing my name in credits.
About a year ago I reached peace of mind with the fact that I may never make another movie. King’s Highway may be it. Furthermore, I may never sell another script. The truth is, I got to make a movie the way I wanted to and I am proud of the final picture. Maybe it’s not perfect, but I did it on my own terms. How many people can say that? Now I’m looking on to the next phase of my life and I don’t give a shit what people say.
Am I a failure? I don’t think so. In fact, by embracing my family first, actually finding enjoyment in being crowded in my bed by my son almost every night, and not worrying about where my career will be in twenty years, maybe I’m actually a rebel after all.