Our son won’t sleep.
Late the other night I opened his bedroom door to find him staring at the ceiling. I asked him why he was still awake and he said,
“I’m thinking about Dolly Parton. I want to meet her.”
The next night I walked in and he was standing up in his bed trying to put on the cat’s bow tie.
He’s growing. We tell him “you’re getting so big.” And he’s worried that he’s going to eventually hit his head on the ceiling. I assure him that’s unlikely since I’m 5 ft 9 when I’m lying.
I can relate though. I remember obsessively watching every episode of Vh1’s “Behind the Music” carefully taking mental notes, worried that I might repeat the mistakes of the rock stars who had come before me.
Despite my preparedness, The universe had different plans.
My Vh1 special would be more accurately titled “Behind: the music.”
But I did get recognized in New York City one time:
I was in the city for a show opening for Madeline Peyroux and came in early for a mtg with my new managers.
After the meeting and before the show I had some time on my hands,
and a guitar on my shoulder,
and a big heavy merch suitcase.
I walked a few blocks lugging it all around and got really hungry as one does when walking and lugging. So, I squeezed into a convenience store to buy a snack.
My money was particularly tight back then. If I had 2 nickels to rub together then I must’ve found a nickel on the street.
I scanned the shelves desperately looking for something that didn’t require a bank loan and was just about to lose hope when I spied a favorite from my childhood:
Canned Chef Boyardee Beefaroni.
My brother and I used to eat it while fishing with my dad.
It’s best enjoyed cold, straight out of the can. The “beef” is a bit unbeef-like. It might be people-roni for all I know. But the noodles have a perfect bounce. If you’re ever experiencing a sodium deficiency this is your meal.
Anyway, I was sitting on my suitcase, on a sidewalk, on the upper west side eating Beefaroni from a can with a spork when I heard:
“Are you Dean Fields?”
Spork in mouth, I lifted my eyes from my can and met the gaze of the friendliest face I had seen in hours and said “ummm.”
“It is you! You’re Dean Fields!”
(I wondered how I should answer. How could this guy possibly know me? Maybe he read my receipt from the convenience store?
Maybe he’s a Nigerian prince looking to take me for the nickel I just found on the street.)
He went on:
“I love your music. I saw you play at UNC with Rusted Root, and at the Living Room…”
His story checked out. And he knew all of my songs. His favorite was Dandelion Rainwhich I hadn’t even released yet.
He told me how he accidentally left my first album in his car’s CD player when he sold it. So he burned a copy from his girlfriend (and he apologized for burning my cd. Remember when that was a thing?) And he was really, really kind.
We chatted for a bit l, I invited him to the show, and then he left.
For a minute there I was Elvis.
I was all 4 Beatles.
Drunk on fame, I finished my can and spent the rest of the afternoon walking the sidewalks of Manhattan making eye contact with every single person just in case they might recognize me.
These days…my goals have changed. Sure, I want to write songs and play them for you.
But fame? World domination?
Now, I just want to be big enough to introduce my son to Dolly Parton.
This is pretty cool:
1. Dolly Parton has sent our son a book every month since he was born. Her amazing literacy program, Imagination Station has delivered 150 million books to kids all over the world.
2. “Where the Wild Things Are” was originally going to be “Where the Wild HORSES Are” but Maurice Sendak couldn’t draw horses.
3. Madeline Peyroux covering Eliot Smith’s Between the Bars is one of the best covers ever.
4. She’s like a modern Billie Holiday. Who I can’t listen to without thinking about David Sedaris singing the Oscar Meyer song.
6. And to the fella from the sidewalk. I know you’ll recognize this story. I didn’t get your name. I was so struck with the sound of my own. But I’d know your face in a lineup. Holler at me and I’ll buy you dinner. I know a place in the city with a mean Beefaroni.
7. In case you missed it: Operation Pet A Duck
Y’all stay cool,