I wrote the following piece in ‘97. It’s a snapshot of tour life, featuring one of my dearest road warrior brethren: Ed “Munch” Miller… who we just lost last week. Munch and I started touring together way back in ’84, but our connection was rooted far beyond the “biz.” Munch was extended family… a fiercely loyal friend who I always remained in touch with and would often see during tour stops in his native Michigan through the years. He was also an insanely gifted sound engineer and quite the character, no doubt! We’ll miss you, brother…
Lampposts in the Moonglow
The warhorse, Winnebago Warrior; my RV – a sling-shot rocket rolling down another black and icy highway. Truckstop neons are a blur to the right and left as speckles of snow, light but steady, pelt our windshield like stars on the Enterprise. We’re going where no men have gone before… at least not men like these.
In the driver’s seat for now, it’s Munch; a sumo-bellied bulldog with a thick, salt and pepper goatee. He’s forcing his droopy eyes to stay open behind dark-rimmed glasses as a Marlboro smolders between fingers that are as wide as they are long.
“You gonna make it, Mack Daddy?” I call out to him, crouching down between the driver and passenger seats. The movie Goodfellas funnels down the hallway from the TV in the rear lounge where I just left a couple of dozing bandmates. Two other crew guys are cocooned in army surplus blankets on couches near the front.
“What? Shit yes… whaddya mean?” Munch grunts back at me.
It’s the usual: me implying that he’s too tired to drive, he insisting he isn’t. Same ol’ shit.
“Well, looks like I might have to get some motherfuckin’ toothpicks up here to keep those eyelids from shuttin’,” I retort.
Munch lets loose one of his signature grizzly bear-with-pneumonia kind of laughs. “You’re dreamin’, Holmes. I ain’t never fell asleep at the wheel and I ain’t never gonna, either,” he says, cocking both eyes at me—and off of the road—for a few seconds longer than I can take.
Me: “Very good. Now, do you mind watching where the fuck you’re going here before we roll this bad boy again?”
Munch: “Man, get your ass back to your movie, will ya? Leave the driving to the professionals.”
Me: “I would, but our budget wouldn’t allow me to hire any.”
Munch: “You got that right!”
We both laugh, and I stand and steady myself through the soft white glow of floor lighting, and down the hall to my haven in the rear lounge.
Life is a series of leaps of faith and, considering only six months have passed since our horrific motor home accident—where a crew guy did, in fact, fall asleep at the wheel and roll the RV four times—I guess I’m taking a leap in letting my boy continue to drive tonight. But the Munch man is armed with a stout cup of coffee and a sacrosanct old bible that his father left him years back—a good luck piece of sorts—which he swears has protected him from harm in his twenty years of driving trucks. And for some reason, I believe it.
Let’s hope this streak continues.
For now, though, I fall into my bunk, power down the tube, then ease onto my side where I can look out the window. Instead of counting sheep, I count passing lampposts in the moonglow. …7, 8, 9… because if we must endure another wreck, I would rather be asleep… 22, 23, 24… that way, by the time I realize it isn’t a dream, it will already be over… 33, 34, 35…
Kind of like life itself.