Field of Rock 'n' Roll Dreams

It'd been calling me for years.

Every time I'd read a book or article about the plane crash.

Every time I'd drive up and down I-35 to visit family in Des Moines.

It was always the softest whisper: "Come here son. I know you want to. I have some answers for you. Some questions too."

I'm still not sure why it took me decades to finally do it. I've lived in the midwest most of my life. Just a few hours away. It's only a mile or so to the west of the interstate my car has regularly traversed. Many times I'd peer over the cornfields during a drive and say to myself, "I should pull over and go visit it." But I'd just keep driving.

The field awaited.

Its call grew louder last summer when I came up with the idea to make a short movie of the Holy Rocka Rollaz visiting the crash site. We could never get our calendars aligned for the day trip. Nevertheless, I started feeling these mysterious emotions that wanted to be songs. They were simply meant to provide a soundtrack to the short movie. I felt them way more than I thought about them.

Then I started recording them.

Because the songs were to emulate the style of the musicians who died in that plane crash, I felt free to really go for a style in a way I'd never done before. About three songs into the recording I was kicked in the heart. Knocked back as it sunk in: "Oh boy! I have finally and fully embraced my life-long love of this young man's music!"

Folks...I got my Buddy Holly freak on.

I let out all the stops. I switched the Gretsch out for a Stratocaster. I tried to write like Buddy. Sing like Buddy. Play guitar like Buddy. Make my new record sound like Buddy.

Then the field called to me louder than ever before.

Oddly, it was a rejection letter for a job I'd interviewed for that served as the final catalyst. I chuckled wistfully as I crumpled it up and threw it away. It was a Saturday morning and I told my lovely wife, Lisa, "Honey, we're taking a road trip to Iowa Monday. Bring your camera, because we're going to document this."

As I worked on the record and prepared for the trip, foreign emotions ran through me. It's amazing how even at the age of 49, new feelings and spiritual territory can open up. I had these sweet, sad, hopeful, soulful butterflies as we ventured down.

I felt like I was going to meet a hero for the first time. I felt like I was going to a wake. I felt like I was going to meet up with an old friend I hadn't seen in years. I felt like I was about to embark on a journey that had been sovereignly placed before me.

I did it.

It was exhilarating.

The half-mile walk through the Iowa cornfield in the middle of a cold, windy and mostly grey day was, well...numbing. All the years of wondering took a back seat to the sound of my boots crunching in the field.

I took a deep breath when I saw the small monument just ahead. I was struck when I finally reached the area. Paul Fricke's illustration of me standing there really does sum it up. He based it on a picture Lisa took of me. They both capture a pivotal moment.

It's kinda hard to explain, but visiting the crash site of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, the Big Bopper J.P. Richardson and pilot Roger Peterson made more of an impact on me driving back home (and later) than it did when I was actually there. It was probably just too much to soak in initially.

I LOVED the new emotional terrain.

Yes, the field gave me answers. I was finally able to put their short flight into geographic perspective. They didn't get far.

Yes, my admiration for the music they made grew even deeper.

Yes, the modest monument and barren field beg you to project whatever emotional/spiritual things you bring to it.

No, the spirits of the young men didn't wade out into the field to give me any guidance. I thought more about how their bodies were tragically sprawled out in the ground I was standing. I found it sad. I found myself wishing they'd never chartered that airplane. It did not feel like it was over 50 years ago.

Then, when my visit was winding down, I smiled at Lisa and noticed the freezing winds had turned her photo snapping fingers blue. The emotions mixed and we quietly walked out of the field.

As we did, I felt a responsibility to share what I'd experienced.

I heard the field asking me, "Will you tell people to come visit?"

"Will you let them know how special this ground is?"

"Will you assure them that I'm a place of comfort, hopes and dreams...despite the tragic history?"

I whispered back...



Jasemin January 26, 2014 @07:34 pm
Thinking like that is really impirsseve
Dany January 26, 2014 @04:40 am
There's a secret about your post. ICTBTYIHTKY
Jerry Flora July 11, 2013 @08:33 am
Very well put.
Michael Miller July 10, 2013 @09:35 pm
Dream on brother.............
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