Oh, I’ve done it; you’ve done it – admit it.
All the people I’ve come across at one time have done it.
We’ve said, “How come I never became a musician? “No? Maybe we asked, “Why wasn’t I an actor?” Still not it? Perhaps we asked “Why didn’t I … play sports/study for my masters/ take dance lessons/run for political office/start that baking business/Why didn’t I write that book?”
Somewhere in your journey of life you came up short, despaired that you never excelled at that one thing that you enjoy or admire or maybe you did go after that dream or you didn’t break through to achieve eminence, fame, prosperity – whatever term fits the talent or industry to the road you didn’t take.
With the Olympics upon us, the questions may center on physical success. What of the many athletes who spend “their best years” trying out and not making the team? Or never gaining the sponsorships needed to just devote every waking second to come up to the quality needed to be on the world stage?
Chances are, you’ve wondered, “Why didn’t it all come together for me?” Have you dared to ask aloud and heard the responses?
Let’s hum together. The airwaves are full of songs that exalt this theme: “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (Rolling Stones), “You Got a Fast Car” (Tracy Chapman), “Glory Days” (Bruce Springsteen) and “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” (U-2).
Killing Bono: I was Bono’s Doppelganger by Neil McCormick is an autobiographical book based on the author’s efforts to break into pop music as the front man of several bands simultaneous to Bono and U-2’s ramp up to fame in the 1980s and ‘90s. McCormick details his unbridled passion for music, living on the brink of poverty in order to live the life, rehearse, perform, lay day demo tracks, get music into the hands of agents and recording companies all while schoolmates Paul Hewson (Bono), David Evans (The Edge), Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr., became international rock stars.
McCormick’s treatise on fame, envy, insanity is at times painful and other times laugh-out-loud funny because of his downright honest take on his all-in lust for making it. McCormick and brother Ivan’s bands included Frankie Corpse and the Undertakers, The Modulators, Yeah, Yeah!, and Shook Up! Frustratingly, he and his band mates falter because of bad luck or are always one step ahead or behind the industry. One mucky-muck insisted that it was Neil’s haircut that was hindering success.
The book’s consistent theme centers on our constant compulsion to compare ourselves to others – a seductive, yet destructive way to live. It doesn’t help that frequently Neil and Ivan cross paths with the U-2 gang and the futileness of their musical mission is palpable.
Like a bear getting stung while licking trace honey from the beehive, repeatedly stung, but going back for more, McCormick takes any glimmers of faint praise to fuel his blind sojourn into pop music.
Ultimately, the on-and-off day job that helped pay for this hobby – writing – brought him recognition, fame, a lifestyle that still allows him to dabble in music. Today he is the London Telegraph’s chief rock and pop music critic. He seems to revel in his life of rubbing shoulders with musicians and writing about music from a knowledgeable point of view. Is he satisfied? Not quite. But he seems to have reconciled himself to a life that places him achingly close to that dream.
So many of us struggle with the tension between what we’re drawn to and what we’re good at that reading this book is a refreshing peek into a life of chasing dreams and then finding new ones that position us where our true talents lie.