Back in high school a teammate and his friends had a band that would play in local coffee houses and small book shops. Most of their following consisted of fellow students but the occasional stranger would start to attend their shows as well. They released two albums (one on tape, one on CD), and I still put them on my playlist from time to time, thinking back to those late nights and seeing their success grow.
Going out and seeing them made me feel like part of a community, in a different way than being in Boy Scouts did. I was taking time out of my schedule to support people who were actually creating art, who were taking the things they thought and felt and putting them to music. I could trace some of the songs’ origins to people or places I knew from school, but others were a complete mystery, the inspiration for which always made me wonder. Back then I churned out poem after poem and never thought about where the inspiration for writing came – I now ponder if it had been the same for them, writing as the mood and experience moved them, rarely a dedicated or discrete direction in mind until much later in the process.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that I was envious of them – they were friends with some of the same people I wanted to be friends with, they were out performing their art in public and actually drawing crowds, and they were successful enough at reaching people that they sold out of both of their home-made albums. Though intellectually I knew that playing in small Morro Bay cafés didn’t equate real-world acclaim, emotionally it felt like they had already made it, that we were witnessing the start of something amazing, and each of us who had been there from the beginning were helping to make it happen.
Mighty Like a Rose didn’t last long past graduation, most everyone going their separate ways for college, but looking back at those late nights, drinking coffees I hated (obviously it would have been poor form not to patronize the spots that let them play), being near people who inspired me, I can say with conviction that they were very good times. There were good people, good music, and a real sense of community I wish I had more of in my life, even to this day.