by Kenny Kerner

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."

This month's 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."

For years, 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.

i i
Name: Dave Burbey
Age: 54
Residence: West Allis, Wisconsin
Occupation: Oil Company
Occupation: Field Technician
Joined TAXI: October, 1996
Songs Forwarded: One
Deals Made: Master Source
Source Made:
Realizing 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.

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 said.

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 take it.

Dave Burbey took that chance and decided to become a serious songwriter at last. He made that decision at age 52.


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