I'd Like a Side Order of Stubble with my Guitar Solo, Please

The crowd swelled behind us, and I nudged in closer to the gal on my right, whose long, brown hair tickled my elbow and threatened to swim in my drink. 

The too-sweet scent of her hairspray mingled with beer and other assorted human smells, making me wish I was home in bed, instead of killing time on this hard concrete slab.

I waited patiently for Dawes, a folk-rock group from Los Angeles, to take the stage, still reeling in awe from the performance of the opener, Jason Isbell, a singer-songwriter from Alabama, formerly with Drive-By Truckers, a Southern rock band.

Me stalking Jason Isbell before the show.

My perseverance was finally rewarded when the band took the stage, opening with their hit single, “Most People.”  I’d been listening to the song, along with the rest of their new album, for weeks leading up to the show.

Their lyrics provided the soundtrack for the painting of two rooms in my house.

If she listens very carefully to a room of conversation
She can feel the planet orbiting through space
She hears pieces of arguments, beginnings of jokes
And the odd lines of a song she cannot place

And it all makes up an image that resists interpretation
Which is lately how she likes to see herself
How she does not believe in accidents, doesn't disagree out loud
And falls in love with every man she cannot help

I’d spent much time soaking in the intricacy of these words, as I commenced a new chapter with my paintbrush.  The words conjured an image in my head of the one singing them.

A man who’d seen some life and had some thoughts on it.  A bit left-of-center and rough-around-the-edges.  Someone you could have a drink with and walk away with a different perspective on something you’d staunchly defended in the past. 

Someone who’d possibly offer you a joint.

The young man standing in front of me, with a guitar slung over his shoulder like a toy ukulele, was none of these things.  Close-cropped, clean-shaven and baby-faced, he looked like he came straight from his J. Crew photo shoot, possibly stopping for a manicure on the way. 

No respectfully shaggy hair, no ink decorating his forearms, no earrings or other typical calling cards of a weathered musician.

Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes. Isn't he precious?

This kid was making a statement by playing the anti-rocker.

It was unsettling to me.

The guy could play, really play.  He had the right stuff. 

But something was missing for me when he propped his brown saddle-oxford-clad foot up on the speaker for a guitar solo.  I couldn’t help but fixate on his indigo, flat-front chinos and checkered button-down with the sleeves rolled-up, á la Prince William.

“ I’m gonna go stand in the back,” I conceded to Husband.

I needed space and air to digest this unexpected turn of events and slap myself silly for even caring about something so foolish.

After all, what do long hair and dirty fingernails have to do with nurturing a prolific soul? 

I was actually reverse-discriminating against this kid for not being rock-and-roll enough.

I forced myself to reconcile my own insecurities.

I marveled at the absurdity of it all, and enjoyed the remainder of the show from the sidelines.

There was a lot more air back there.

Come visit Yeah Write where we're all rock-and-roll enough.


  1. Dude, it's like Doogie Howser with a guitar. Unsettling is right!

    1. Dude, I need to post the video I took of him singing and hopping around with that guitar. It reminded me of an episode of Jack's Big Music Show.

    2. I love Jack's Big Music Show. #rocknrollenough

  2. I don't know him, but your story reminded me of my reaction to seeing pictures of Brett Dennen. I had been enjoying his music for a while, and I was totally shocked by how he looks. He just didn't look like himself to me. Still doesn't

    1. Exactly! Hard when reality doesn't match what's in our heads.

  3. I feel the same way about some authors. The only one who has ever "matched" his work perfectly has been Stephen King. I'm still not over Clive Barker.

    1. I agree, authors never look like they sound either.

  4. Haha! "...I was actually reverse-discriminating against this kid for not being rock-and-roll enough." I love that. And the line about the dirty fingernails. Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith sound Ivy League. I don't know if they are/were, but get this - before folk rock they were post punk. Wonder what they looked like before? Great post!

    1. Thanks, Linda. I cannot imagine those kids calling themselves post punk. Maybe they wore Ramones t-shirts and called it a day.

  5. And here you described the type of guy I would be into, preppy boy next door type, just like my husband. But nothing can surpass our vision, can it? That's what makes the world go round. Different strokes for different folks.

    1. If I encountered the guy in a department store or restaurant, I would have thought he was cute. There was something about him not looking the way I thought he sounded in his music that threw me for a loop. And my husband is preppy/conservative, too, so I guess I'm looking for something edgier in a musician to idol-worship :)

  6. This is exactly how I feel when I see the movie versions of books I love and the people playing the roles are the exact opposite of the ones I conjured in my mind. Reality often takes a little bit of re-adjusting.

  7. He's cute! I go for those clean-cut types (like them a little sassy though too). But nothing like the moment when you realize your expectations are off, way off. Unsettling! I'm with Sam too. I hate when books I love are made into movies!

  8. Great post! I totally know what you're saying though! It's almost like the music would connect more soulfully if the guy looked more authentically soulful, edgy, etc. (or what you perceive as authentic). Makes complete sense. It would be like a car salesman doing your pedicure. You want it to feel nice, but something off with the picture so you're uneasy. Ok, maybe that wasn't the greatest analogy, but you know what I'm getting at.... :)

  9. I remember the first time I saw one of the DJs from our local radio station (back in the day when those existed) in person. I was flabbergasted. How could that voice come out of that man?!

  10. Not in a rock vein, but Adele did that to me. Her voice does not look ANYTHING like how I pictured her. And yes, I said look. When I heard her sing, the voice conjured an image that was completely different from who she ended up being. It threw me as well. I get you. Rock on, sister.

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