Story Behind the Song: John Paul White, ‘The Long Way Home’
John Paul White's "The Long Way Home" struggles with the loneliness of being a touring musician often separated from his wife, kids and hometown. The singer-songwriter explains that while he's proud that the song captured a feeling he has, it became even more meaningful to him when he realized how it affected his children. Read on to learn more, as told by the artist himself.
I struggle every day with being a touring musician. There was a time when I loved it. There was a time when it excited me to see new cities and play bigger venues, all of that. It was a lot of fun. And it's not really a "been there, done that" kind of thing; it just doesn't really excite me the way it did. I miss my kids. I miss my wife. I miss my little town. So it's always a tug of war, getting me back out on the road. I love it when I'm onstage. All the other stuff, I could leave.
So that song is really about that: that I've got no choice about it -- even more so, in today's world, where, for artists, touring is really where they make their livelihood, because people don't really buy records the way they used to. I don't sit around whining about that. I think, to be honest, it might improve our quality of the music in the business, because if you can't play live, you're a dinosaur, you're a dead man walking. That's not the worst thing in the world. But it means I gotta get out there and do it, and the song really is about that love-hate relationship with it.
I didn't realize that it would hit my family as hard as it did when I played that song for them. My 11-year-old was crying when I played it for him, and I didn't see that coming at all. Because they know how much it hurts me to leave. And I joke about it onstage, that it made me really proud that I could make my kids cry, but it hurt. He went out on tour with me for a couple of weeks, and so I had to play that song every night, and he was sitting there.
But I am very proud of that song, because not only did it sum up an emotion I was feeling, but it summed up something they deal with, too, so that made it an even more universal thing for me.