On February 7, 2003, I interviewed Vandalia businessman and musician, Ed Taylor, Jr., at his shop, The Noise Store, on Dallas Street. Ed sells musical instruments and Radio Shack products and gives music lessons, a lot of lessons. This is his story.
Vagabond: You have the life in Vandalia that is what you’ve made and what you want and what you’re responsible for, and you get a chance to go out and be that musician on Beal Streel and Nashville and St. Louis on occasion, as well?
Ed: Like I said, because of what I went through in my life and where I’ve been, and because of the changes I’ve made in my life, it’s opened up doors and God’s taken me places I never dreamed I’d ever get to go. To try to help someone else understand that, you really can’t do it. I guess all I can do is try. It’s been a pretty wild and crazy journey. It didn’t turn out anything like I thought it would but it turned out a hundred times better than I ever imagined it would. It’s pretty incredible when I look back on it. Maybe it’s not the big glamorous music life that everybody, that every young rock star dreams of. But yet, it’s been a pretty incredible life. I’m from a small town in Illinois and people don’t know me from Adam. But I got the opportunity to go and play and do some things that I’d never have got the chance to do before. Another thing that was pretty weird, dreaming of playing rock and roll and working really hard to play down there, and all I had to do was just lose everything in my life and change, so I started to play the kind of music I’d never played in my life, I got to do it that way.
Vagabond: Well thank you, I really appreciate this good stuff. It’s what I was looking for. Now I have to do it justice when I put this all together.
Ed: Well, my story I think, the way I look at it, my story is just a lot of other people’s stories. The more I’ve been through in my life, it made me humble. It gave me a good dose of humility that I really needed in a weird kind of way. If anything, just taking the talents I’ve got and trying to use those in trying to help other people as opposed to trying to figure out to finagle the money out of them, or something like that.
I learned about what got me messed up in my life and what I’d gone through. I went through a lot of changes and realized that my story is no different than a lot of other people out there. So I thought I’ll take this gift and use it for good. And I’ve done that, too. That’s part of the responsibility of having that gift. God’s given me the talents he’s given me. I think there’s a lot of other people out there, around in this world, that could do that if they allowed themselves to do it. Maybe with just a little bit of coaching, a little inspiration form another area, maybe they can go out and do that. I remember early on, one of the things I read, I don’t even remember what it was.
It was something that Galileo said, "you cannot teach a man, you can only help him to find what he already has inside." I thought about how true that was with me. I think everybody has a good heart. When we do wrong, we know we do wrong. When something’s not right, we know it’s not right. Sometimes something just keeps driving us to do that. I think that even people out there who are really down, I think given the right set of circumstances, they have the ability to change if they want to.
I heard a song one time about the parable of the chicken, or about an eagle that was raised on the ground with the chickens. So this eagle always lived on the ground amongst the chickens. One day a naturalist came up to the farm and saw this eagle with the chickens. He told the eagle, you’re an eagle you don’t belong down here. You can fly. So they took the eagle up to the top of the barn and he holds him up to the sky and lets him go. Well the eagle was so scared and confused by this that he just flew back down to the ground with the chickens. That’s what he always knew, that was his life. Anyway the naturalist couldn’t give up on him. He took him to the mountain top and kept working with him and showing him, finally the eagle just flew off. I think if there are people around that can just show people that there are options in this world. That if your life is miserable, you choose to let it be that way. So that part of that song is what all my music is about.
Vagabond: Throwing eagles off the barn....
Ed: That’s right. We just have to open our eyes and realize our life doesn’t have to be what it is in many cases. We do have options if you have the courage to change and try a different way. That’s what that song was about. So I’m just a little bitty chicken amongst the rest of them. I also come to realize that I’m pretty small potatoes but there are some things I can do here. Vandalia is a small town, we don’t amount to much. But there are some things we can do here to make it better. We got together to show people that we can do it.
Vagabond: Thank you.