From The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame To The Clubs Of Hamburg

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The Story Behind
"Highs And Lows"

From the beginning....

When I was a young kid my older brothers took off for college and I was left with their record collections. Classic acts like Zeppelin, Bowie, Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis, The Police and of course The Beatles became my favorites. Music took me on a journey and I knew nothing about what was cool or wasn’t – I just loved playing along on drums and guitar, writing songs and making up imaginary bands.

Fast forward to 2003. I was onstage at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland playing guitar with band I was in from New York. We had won a big music contest and were flown all over the country getting treated like VIP’s – But guess what…… sucked!  What?? Not all of it of course but the essence was lacking. The music became watered down, the pressure was too much and the whole thing imploded. I loved and appreciated everyone I worked with but it just wasn’t what I signed up for.

The icing on the cake was when we opened for a band in front of 10,000 people. One of the members asked to borrow my guitar. I told him no problem but it was in an alternate tuning. He said it didn’t matter because they are playing to tracks anyway and not actually playing the instruments! It was then that I began realizing being an independent artist was the way forward for me. Gone were the days of artist development and freedom of expression. My young naive self had to accept that talent wasn’t king but making money fast for someone else was. So I pulled a Sinatra and chose to do it my way….….!

Following the Vision

A few years later while in a deep meditation I heard a voice say “Don’t abandon Europe”. It was so loud and clear - I couldn’t ignore it. A few months later a friend of mine and awesome bassist Rico sent me an email from Hamburg saying he needed a good guitarist who could sing in English without an accent. I thought that would be awesome, but how? My wife was my girlfriend of 5 years at that point, we were deeply rooted in a house that I had built an extensive studio in with roommates and a dog. But the thought persisted and I was driven to make it happen. I realized that while my life was good on the outside my day to day wasn’t stimulating me and this was an opportunity I couldn’t ignore. Then I figured out I could get an artist visa and keep my composition for TV job by working online. So we sold everything, transferred the lease to our friends, got our dogs paperwork in order and made it on a plane to Germany with as many bags and guitars as we could carry. Three days later I was onstage playing a 3 hour gig. It was awesome. High’s and Lows is about the adventure of getting there. Whatever and whoever came my way, I would embrace it all because beyond the Highs and Lows of the experience I knew I’d be ok.

From the Plane to the Stage - Watch the Subscriber Only Video Below

I made a homemade lyric video documenting our move to Germany with some backstage footage, gigs and behind the scenes good times. It's super low budget, unlisted on YouTube and made with grainy cell phone video but definitely fun......
Also see if you can spot the 3 albums I mention in the lyrics.....Enjoy!

Click to play

Have you ever just picked up and left? Maybe not across the world -  it could’ve been a job, a relationship, new career, anything that set you on a new path?? Again this is a new page so feel free to join in the discussion – I’d love to hear your thoughts below!

Thanks for Listening!
-John Zay

  • Great song. I listened to all the above mentioned groups except for Pink Floyd. My fave is of the above is Genesis.

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