"Up ahead's a thousand [roads], but when it comes,
it'll on'y be one."
"The road that's less traveled is the one that leads
right back to you."
As most McDermott fans are probably aware, much of Michael's work is distinctly linked to "place"...i.e. his first album was named for a Chicago address at which he once lived (620 West Surf), his second after a place of decision (Gethsemane), and his latest a place of business (Last Chance Lounge). And, of course, dotted throughout his song titles and lyrics are countless additional references to places he's been...either literally (Memphis, Paris, etc.) or figuratively (The Road to Abilene), as well as places he hopes to find ("I'm gonna find "myself" someday...")
Okay, maybe that last reference seems a bit questionable in terms of "place". But, if you think about it for a moment, don't we all commonly say that certain things, people, books, movies, etc. have found a "place" within us (someone, something "holds a special 'place' in my heart", etc.)? And, if that's the case, certainly those of us who are fans/supporters/believers in Michael's work would agree that his songs, his words, the world he has shown us through them (i.e....our world) occupy some undefined yet special "place" in each of us.
With that in mind, I was thinking that it might form a unique and memorable keepsake for Michael to document a few of these "places" he's visited -- places where he may not have even realized he's found a home -- and offer it to him as this year's birthday gift from all of us. And, while I realize that date still looms quite...well, small... two-and-a-half months away from this writing, it's certainly not news to any of us that time truly flies in the busy-ness of our everyday lives. And, during the summer months, with our own "road trips", picnics, camp-outs, swim parties, and of course, jobs, personal obligations, etc., time seems to be at an even higher premium.
That said, I thought it might be a good idea to embark on this adventure with a bit of time to spare...give everyone some "space" in which to decide what "place" they'd most like to commemorate for this project and in what way they'd like to do so. Hence, the introduction to the project that you probably read when following the link that brought you to this page..."Around the World in 80 Days". With Michael's birthday Aug. 24th, starting on June 5th, we all have 80 days to "complete" our "journey" down (this portion of) The Pauper Road. (However, all submissions must be received -- not merely postmarked -- by Aug. 16th to allow assembly of the book and mailing to its recipient).
And, on that note we're brought back to the quote at the top of this page. For, each one of us was at some point -- either long ago...or maybe very recently -- just traveling along our own road, facing the thousand other roads (and the thousand "lives", as the quote was originally penned) that lie ahead, when we were stopped short at an intersection at which we "met" Michael McDermott (maybe heard one of his songs on the radio, was given a CD, attended a show, etc.). And, whether the realization dawned instantly or took a while to seep in, at some point it became clear that two roads had merged. Moreover, in continuing down this new path, we learned of side streets, hidden driveways, and barely discernible trails...all being traversed by fellow travelers, whose lives would likewise come to be shared in some way with ours.
That said, I'd like to at last offer a few specifics as to just where this is going. My plan is to purchase a scrapbook that I'll entitle The Pauper Road. In it I would like to paste a collection of mementos, thoughts, wishes...basically anything that commemorates for you a significant "place" on The Pauper Road as you've come to know it. I've assembled a few examples and ideas below just to start the ball rolling in terms of the kind of things that could be included...but please understand that by no means are these intended to represent anything close to an exhaustive list. Pretty much the only "rules" are that whatever you submit be no larger than an ordinary 8 1/2"x11" sheet of paper, relatively flat (so that they're not crushed when the book is closed), and that there is no writing on the back of the sheet, card, etc. (where it will be pasted in). (A birthday-card-style entry is fine as this can still be "opened" when that page of the book is reached while still pasted on by its back...which I mention simply to clarify the previous statement).
Okay, I think we're ready for a few samples...
1. This is a the bag from the CD store at which I purchased Gethsemane in Great Barrington, MA...along with a photo of the disc itself and an accompanying note.
2. You can create a personalized note card/birthday card and/or write an original poem commemorating a particular experience at a particular place or why that place is significant in your McDermott travels.
3. A calendar, table display or other item from a special venue along with a photo. Again, a brief personalized greeting should be added to truly make this "place" your own.
4. Even a napkin from a place where you may have pondered the meaning of a certain lyric over lunch, recalled a great show, or shared McD music with friends can be a meaningful and unusual object for inclusion in the book.
And, here are a few additional ideas...
5. A letter explaining a place of significance for you as it pertains to Michael's work.
6. A small concert poster/flyer from a special show with a favorite place-related McD lyric written on it.
7. Ticket stubs and a note about the show they represent.
Most importantly, this is a personalized "travelogue" commemorating our collective journey as supporters of Michael's work...one that also serves as both a birthday present and birthday card. With that in mind, be sure to SIGN your entry so that Michael knows who his companions on The Pauper Road are as he turns the pages.
And, finally, I just want to encourage EVERYONE with an appreciation for Michael's work to get involved. In light of all he's given us through the rich and beautiful gift that is his music, let's remind him that the sometimes lonely journey of creating this isn't as solitary as it may seem... and that the road that "leads right back to" Michael McDermott is indeed more traveled than he ever imagined.
Send all submissions to: The
Well, that's it! What do you think? Any thoughts, suggestions, comments? If so, please feel free to contact me with those anytime...just drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And, if you're a new pauper or one who for whatever reason missed out on last year's Michael McDermott birthday project (in which we all came together to "Paint Michael A Song", click here to check it out! (The link marked "update" at the top of the explanation page shows you the finished product).