If that is what people remember of me, then I could die happy.
For many years I have performed under the stage name Eddie Danger. I met an artist manager out of Nashville on Halloween and I spent all my savings and the next 3 months following her advice. She encouraged me to change my stage name, so I took on my grandfather's (on my mothers side) name, Stanton West. I chose the songs for the new album that would feature the best of my new and old folk tunes. I contacted Joe Craven, who I knew back from when I hired him to play at Feel Good Festival, and he agreed to produce the album. My team and I did some DEMO recordings and went to work on a Kickstarter video. I launched the Kickstarter and had a really heartwarming response. So much support and kind words from people who believe in the same thing I do.
While this was all going on I noticed a dark spot on my arm. I looked on the internet (skincancer.org) and the ABCDE test encouraged me to go see a doctor immediately. I was in the next day, they took out a chunk of my arm for testing and a week later I was back in the operating room. They removed about half of the skin on my forearm. The potential of dying is always there. I could get hit by a bus this morning, but being faced with your own mortality as a real possibility brings everything into perspective. It shows you what is important. I became consumed with being alive, being appreciative of every moment, and enjoying every personal interaction. What has become most important is staying true to myself.
I was injured in both body and mind. I cancelled my upcoming show that week because I couldn’t use my arm. Ironically, it was a Cancer benefit concert! Even more ironic is how much I Love the sunshine. Years of basking in it while leading backpack and canoe trips. Soaking it in while out in the field farming. Slowly burning myself to a crisp and giving myself cancer. I also, in winter, feel like I've been trapped in a cardboard box. I long for the sun. I go into anxious despair wishing to bath in it.
Then I postponed my crowd-funding campaign. I need(ed) to focus on healing. The truth is, my heart wasn't in it. I've never been good at putting a value on what I do and convincing people it's worth it. Plumbers don’t crowd-fund. They just plumb. There is no popularity contest to become a successful plumber. There is no school or formula on how to be a successful independent touring musician. That is something I will need to figure out on my own. Sometimes set-backs are just opportunities in disguise.
You can still expect great things from Stanton West, just not as quick and grandiose as I first imagined. Don’t get me wrong, I still have big dreams. I still believe in miracles. I still believe that everything happens for a reason. I am very disappointed that I have to wait to record this next album in a professional studio with one of my musical heroes. At present, I am happy to be alive and grateful to have another opportunity to try again in a way that better suits me.
I am on the mend and it looks like I will have a full recovery. I have a wonderful family. I live in a beautiful place with a strong sense of community. I get to chase my dreams. I have close friends that love me. That is what is important.
It is a unique time to be and artist. People typically support art when they themselves have an abundance to share. Food, Shelter, Water, Warmth, Love, The Packers... then comes art and music. These are not abundant times, but there is still a need for professional artists. The people who interpret our world as it is, in a way that stirs peoples minds and emotions. The world needs more people who are willing to sing and play a real guitar, not just press buttons on a joystick.
One of my greatest fears is that people don’t understand how much work I put into my craft. I am always working. Always planning, promoting, creating, writing, practicing, touring, performing, filming, recording, driving, and pursuing my life’s passion. My job is to connect with people. To interpret the times. To see the world and spread news from town to town.
Even when faced with death and hospital bills I still know who I am and who I will always be. I may not always have the same stage name, but I will certainly be trying to connect with people using creative projects as a means. If that is what people remember of me, then I could die happy.
LAST WORDS by Stanton West
Here is something I wrote in my journal when I was first told that I had cancer. It was the first moment I realized that the reaper is hanging around trying to make up her mind about me. It became clear that I would need to choose life if I wanted to live, and I did:
"Thank You for one more day. One more day, for all the things I didn't say. All the games I didn't play. All those moments I chose not to pray. All the laughter that came my way. Please know I am not afraid. I will leave behind regret and shame. Flowers wilt and honey stays. So here I lay. Gone away. Turned to ashes, dirt, & clay.
Hell is just heaven for people that are not good. No one wants to go there, even if they should. If I could live forever I don't know that I would. A shadow is just a place hiding from the light. The day is just a place that hides from the night. Living underground will make you pale and white.
It's dusk. There is no moon. Yarn needs a hand to work the loom. The soul is looking for a body to fill. Nothing lasts forever. I'm glad for our time together. Through rough seas and harsh weather. With and without an umbrella. An umbrella is meant to keep you out the rain. Water is meant to wash away.
Animals are made of fur and hair. Through the winter sleeps the bear.
Through the clouds peaks the sun. Kissing my skin and making us one. We are all looking for the same thing. Shed the winter and feel the Spring! The season of discontentment left to thaw. Feel your heart beat one and all. Grow & growing till the Fall. Starting over... cyclical.
Things cut short and left undone in the middle of a game that can't be won. Reap the wheat of the setting sun. Rise again when morning comes. And so I'm blessed with one more day. To say the things I need to say.
I am he who is here Now. Forgotten past dug by farmers plow. Work to live, no time to play. Live to work another day. A fruit that rots can not hurt. Everything turns to dirt. Soulless bodies feed the soil. Peasant, merchant, bard, and royal.
What do I regret in my dying breath? All the friends I never met. Will I take flight on angels wings? Or become the stars that each night brings.
Of the things I've never known. All the seeds I did not grow. Leave behind the things I've owned and go to pay the things I owe. If your out to sail and the wind won't blow. Take out your oar and begin to row. Life is too big to control, but like the wheel it's meant to roll. Move your body with your soul. One more day to shine and glow. These the last words I ever wrote".