Andy Doerschuk

Loneliness Of The Road

Everybody gets lonely sometimes. I’ll never forget a time in the early ’80s, while on my first national tour with The Naughty Sweeties, when I never felt more alone.

I moved with my wife to Los Angeles in 1980 and within a couple of months landed the gig with The Sweeties. I recorded the band’s second album only a couple of weeks after joining, and found myself on the road shortly after that.

While she didn’t complain, I could tell that my wife hated L.A. She wanted to live closer to her family and friends in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was tough to leave her alone in a city where she had so few connections as we left on tour. I knew she was lonely.

She and I talked every night, but our conversations began to change after a few weeks. She often had to get off the phone. Sometimes I’d hear voices in the background, which she shrugged off as neighbors she’d befriended. Even more telling — she stopped saying she loved me before we signed off.

I could tell something was up. So one night in Cleveland, I finally asked if she was cheating on me, and she admitted she was.

At that point, we were opening for Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, playing for 20,000 people a night. I was finally realizing every rock and roll fantasy I’d ever dared entertain and yet — barring the 45 minutes spent onstage every night — I had never felt lonelier in my life.

We got back from the tour and recorded one more album. My wife and I got a divorce. The Sweeties broke up and everybody drifted onto different career paths. Every once in a while after that one of my former bandmates would get in touch.

About a year ago I got a MySpace friend request from Jimi Hush, The Naughty Sweeties’ ex-road manager, and we exchanged a couple of emails. He had always been an intense guy with a wicked sense of humor and serious drug problems. Jimi told me that he’s been driving a semi truck for a living. He was still on the road. I began following his blog postings, which almost always were heartbreakingly forlorn.

This morning I got an email from his ex telling me that Jimi had died at the age of 52. Apparently he had a stroke, but something tells me that in one way or the other, he died of loneliness.

Unless you’re careful, that’s what the road can do to you, whether you’re one leaving or the one left behind.

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