Overwhelmed by his blindness, and feeling less than whole,
poet John Milton would walk around the perimeter of his estate each
day, and recite what became the epic poem, Paradise Lost, to his secretary.
In a related verse, he wrote the now classic line, "They also serve
who only stand and wait."
passenger profile subject can identify with many of those feelings.
Dave Burbey has been obsessed with music all his life. When he was about
seven years old, he already had an affinity for Big Bands. So when he
completely lost his hearing at nineteen, he was devastated. I donít
have any bones in the middle ear, he revealed candidly, so thereís
really no connection from the ear drum to the auditory window nerve.
The bones solidified with calcium and just broke away as I got older.
I was in the Army at the time and I got up one morning and my ears were
ringing. I was fine when I went to bed at night and the very next morning
I couldn't hear. I could hear very low frequencies but couldnít make
out a word anyone was saying. Especially when a woman got on the phone
-- I would just hang up because I didn't hear anyone there. I started
having problems at nineteen and by the time I was twenty-one, it was
gone completely. Three months later I was out of the Army."
Burbey walked around, his head filled with lyrics and melodies that
he might never ever hear. Perhaps it was the blasting of Army rifles
on the firing range that helped crumble the delicate bones in his ear.
Perhaps it was Fate. Not wanting to abandon his music career, Dave began
putting his lyrics down on paper, knowing that somewhere, in that computer
he called his mind, there was an appropriate melody stored safely away.
Years later, Burbey told us, when my hearing was back, I began carrying
around a tape recorder to be sure I always would retain whatever melodies
and lyrics I wrote.
Thanks to modern
technology, a miracle implant and the grace of God, doctors were able
to restore Burbeyís hearing. For me, this was truly a miracle. I donít
know how my wife put up with it. She knew the pain I was going through.
I remember the first time I got home and heard the telephone ringóshe
started to cry.
that somebody up there was smiling down on him, Burbey wasted no time
and got right back to his songs: I called a copyright lawyer for some
advice on what to do with my songs and he suggested I go to Firebird Studios
in Milwaukee where this producer/engineer, Ramie Espinoza, began enhancing
some of my tunes with his guitar playing, then mixed the songs.
||West Allis, Wisconsin
Like most people
living in the middle of nowhere (outside of the music centers of New York,
Los Angeles and Nashville), Burbey caught a glimpse of a TAXI ad in a
national music magazine and it interested him. If he wasnít able to get
his music to professionals, maybe the people at TAXI could!
I did a little
research on it and found out that they were legitimate. So, I sent them
a bunch of songs that were screened by Rex Benson (TAXI's A&R Country
music screener) who went out of his way to give me suggestions about my
songs. He even called me at homeóthatís the kind of person he is. He liked
the fact that I had emotion in my songs and gave me all kinds of good
advice about song structure. Rexís suggestions told me my weaknesses and
my strengths as a songwriter. Rex believed that if I just kept going,
I had the talent to make it.
Lest you think
success came to Dave Burbey overnight, rest assured that he, too, suffered
through months of frustration after sending his songs to a plethora of
Nashville songwriting organizations where they were analyzed by students.
That was the biggest laugh; the biggest waste of money for me, Dave
When Dave joined
TAXI he wasnít looking to become a star, but wanted someone professional
to validate his abilities and talents as a writer. He got more than his
moneyís worth when a Christmas song he submitted was forwarded the same
day it arrived at the TAXI offices. Dave remembers the story clearly:
My self-esteem went up so high that dayóyou have no idea. It made me
look through all of my songs again. It all started when I brought my songs
to Ramie who made CD quality, radio ready tapes for me. Everything I do
now is top of the line.
These days, Dave
Burbey still lives in a little hamlet called West Allis and often writes
with a neighbor of his who lives nearby. TAXI was my only bridge to the
music industry, he concluded, I used to go to Nashville and knock on
doors but there was never anyone there. It sounded like they were just
giving me a line of bull. So, if you even think you have talent, you need
to join TAXI to find out for sure. You only have one chance, so you gotta
Dave Burbey took
that chance and decided to become a serious songwriter at last. He made
that decision at age 52.