Ozark Mountain Daredevils: On Second Thought
I have a quick follow-up to a piece I wrote here a couple of weeks ago called “The Ozark Mountain Daredevils Keep On Churnin’.” In that essay, I provided a bit of background on the Daredevils, a review of their July 16th show, and my experience meeting the band backstage. If you read the piece, it’s possible that you remember this line:
“After the show, I went backstage and met the guys. And while [singer/guitarist] John Dillon acted like I had manure smeared on my shirt, [bassist] Supe Granda was the coolest guy alive, taking me back into the dressing room, handing me cold beers, and chatting it up about Daredevils lore past and present.”
Okay, you’re not gonna believe this.
Last night, my uncle was visiting me from out of town and we were sitting around and the subject of the Daredevils happened to come up. He’s a lifelong fan who was in college in Springfield, Missouri, the band’s hometown, in the ’70s during the band’s heyday, so we were sharing stories—his about live concerts back in the day, mine about their recent show and my interview with Supe Granda.
At one point, a thought happened to cross my mind, a vague memory, that one of my friends, Stevie, who lives in the Springfield area, told me a year (or two) ago that he had made the acquaintance of one of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils. Now I figured that he had probably met their old bus driver or a guy who played keyboards in the band for six months, so I didn’t pay much attention at the time. However, since my uncle and I were talking Daredevils, I grew curious and spontaneously texted Stevie:
My text: “Hey. Who is the guy in the Ozark Mt Daredevils that you know down there?”
Stevie’s response: “Dude how freakin’ weird that you are asking me that. I’m sitting right next to him and his wife right now. His name is John Dillon.”
All right, so what are the chances? I happened to text him that question at the very moment that he’s sitting right next John Dillon at a party, a guy he rarely sees. Plus, it’s John Dillon, the very band member whom I described as uncivil in my review. My and my uncle’s minds officially blown, I sent a brief text back to Stevie informing him that (a) he had to be kidding me and (b) I had reviewed the Daredevils recently and had written that Dillon was rude.
Twenty minutes later, my phone rang.
Stevie: Somebody wants to talk to you.
Me: Dude, no, no, no, wait, no…
John Dillon: I like guys with manure on their shirts!
Oh, god. Dillon had read it, which is flattering and mortifying at the same time, and I was at a major loss at what to say in response. But Dillon—funny, super-nice—went on to explain that he was being pulled in a number of directions that night and didn’t know I was going to be there and apologized if he came off as condescending.
So who’s the jerk? Me, that’s who! He wasn’t even that impolite to begin with—sure, he blew me off, but big deal; why should he have dropped everything for some random dude hanging around in his dressing room anyway? Plus, here’s John Dillon, a musical hero of my youth, the guy who wrote “Standing on the Rock” and “Beauty in the River” and “You Made It Right” and “From Time to Time” and “Fly Away Home” and two dozen other songs that have flowed through my veins so many times that they’re part of my DNA. He co-wrote the smash “If You Wanna Get to Heaven,” a song I’ve sung for years in a cover band. (Does that mean I technically owe him money?) Hell, I’ve spent hours just trying to figure out what he’s holding in his left hand on the back cover of the first Daredevils album. So why I didn’t give him the benefit of the doubt, I’ll never know.
So for the record: John Dillon is, by all accounts, a hell of a nice guy. And a very close personal friend of mine.