Donna and Zane King

It’s a couple years ago and I’m new in Nashville. I’m back from another leg of the Never Ending Tour, hungover, feeling sorry for myself. There’s no food in the fridge, a lone mustard bottle standing guard over rotten eggs, and I self-sooth the way most vagabond hipsters do - pay outlandish prices for hipster tacos.

I slip past the host stand at Bar Taco and find an unoccupied bar stool, opting for limeade and tearing my cocktail napkin into tiny pieces of travel fatigue and existential dread. I’m not looking for conversation, but a smiling woman in her fifties sits next to me and observes “you must be a musician.” She says my Lagunitas hoodie gives it away.     

Her name’s Donna. She’s a successful songwriter in town and her husband’s a well-regarded steel player. She patiently nods along with my Story So Far, sensing it to be the well rehearsed small talk it is. Zane, her husband, mentions in a low-key Arkansas drawl he’s heard of my band. We settle into a familiar guitar nerd rapport while Donna surreptitiously picks up the tab. In subsequent dinners, they’ve never let me pay, despite my repeatedly insisting.

And so a life-long friendship’s born. Donna and Zane King, ladies and gentleman! Her chili’s revived me numerous times post-tour, and his pool sharking’s repossessed left over per diem more than I’d care admitting. Donna and I’ve written several songs together that are truly beautiful, and they’re the first people who made Nashville feel like home.

So, when in doubt, go out. Be detached and generally emo, but not so much that a smile goes unnoticed or a helping hand unclasped. We are all lost from time to time, then mercifully directed back on track by an unassuming angel’s nudge.