One Direction can probably relate to the classic rock ballad “Turn the Page” by Bob Seger about life on the road. It was the frustration of a rainy tour and just being on the road that broke up the Beatles. At least that is what Paul McCartney told The Rolling Stone. It was the exhausting and relentless pace of the road that caused Joe Perry of Hollywood Vampires to collapse on stage, according to what Alice Cooper told The Rolling Stone. In the end, it was very probable that touring is what left 1D in need of a very long break.
One Direction, like any other band, finds life on the road not only exciting and fun but also increasingly exhausting and frustrating as the tour wears on. Bands get tired on a deeper level than their fans can imagine.
“Turn The Page” is probably one of the most compelling of so many songs written about a musician’s life on the road. Google Play has the lyrics and there is a video below. It is also said, by more than a few musicians, to be eerily similar to their own experiences on the road. It expresses so beautifully what musicians go through. The song’s sorrowful notes emphasize the pain in the lyrics, leaving welled-up tears in the eyes of the toughest roadies and musicians.
“On a long and lonesome highway, East of Omaha
You can listen to the engine, Moanin’ out his one note song
You can think about the woman, Or the girl you knew the night before.”
One Direction members have faced a lot of impatience and criticism from their fans, who thought taking a break should mean taking a few weeks off. After five world tours and five albums in five years, the guys are tired. They are tired of traveling and possibly tired of each other as well. That doesn’t mean they are not friends, only that they need time away before they can even start to regroup.
The Beatles needed that time too, but instead of taking a hiatus they suddenly broke up after exhaustion led to just being completely fed up with all of it. Paul McCartney told The Rolling Stone they had quite enough of touring in the rain.
“We’d had enough of playing rain-soaked stages with lousy PA’s.”
One Direction, like the Beatles, felt that exhaustion. They were tired to the bone and just needed a very long rest. Again, Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page” spells out that feeling. Some things never change, despite the difference in technology, communications, and various aspects of 21st century life; riding in a bus with half a dozen guys, after years of doing the same thing every day, is pretty much timeless, and “Turn the Page” makes it legendary as well, with its haunting melody.
“But your thoughts will soon be wandering, The way they always do
When you’re ridin’ sixteen hours, And there’s nothin’ much to do
And you don’t feel much like ridin’, You just wish the trip was through”
One Direction band members know even better than the older artists what it is like to walk into a room and feel stared at. When Harry Styles goes outside his home, the cameras flash into his eyes, as he tries to make his way down his own sidewalk. Zayn Malik and his girlfriend Gigi Hadid are under constant surveillance from the paparazzi, and Louis Tomlinson’s baby mamma has been harassed on social media and in the press. There are prying eyes always upon them, and, while in the song, it was just about strangers wondering about their long hair, now everyone knows who the One Direction guys are, and there is money and recognition for every photo or video clip.
“Well you walk into a restaurant, Strung out from the road
And you feel the eyes upon you, As you’re shakin’ off the cold
You pretend it doesn’t bother you, But you just want to explode.”
One Direction’s Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, and Niall Horan are totally professional in all their interactions with fans and press. So is Zayn Malik. These guys were practically raised on tour, starting at such a young age, but it is still psychologically difficult to be stared at and photographed by crowds of people almost constantly.
Joe Perry of Aerosmith and Hollywood Vampires, not to mention being a friend of Harry Styles, knows exactly what the first half of the second verse feels like. He gave till he had no more and passed out on the stage just last month. He earned a two-week rest and a trip to the hospital. Again Bob Seger spells all that out in “Turn The Page.”
“Out there in the spotlight, You’re a million miles away
Every ounce of energy, You try to give away
As the sweat pours out your body, Like the music that you play”
One Direction endured many of the same kinds of self-sacrificing, health-crushing circumstances Joe Perry did. Musicians, young and old, famous and unknown, live under many of the same conditions in order to either gain or maintain success in their field. They travel from town to town, and city to city, sometimes in planes, but it almost always starts and ends up in the tour bus.
Alice Cooper told The Rolling Stone that Joe Perry’s condition was a result of eight shows in nine days, plus he hadn’t eaten in two or three days. His physician’s diagnosis was exhaustion and dehydration, but the real culprit was the road.
Whether it is One Direction, Hollywood Vampires, or some relatively unknown band on the Eastern Seaboard circuit, the experience is very similar. Riding on the bus, all day, then spending a couple of hours on a stage, giving the audience everything, under hot lights in the summer heat, is simply grueling. It is hard to find nutritious foods on the road, and hard to find a time to eat. Sometimes it is hard to choke down anything at all, as the heat, the motion sickness, and the stress can lead to nausea as part of a cycle of exhaustion.
Former One Direction singer Zayn Malik has panic attacks and stage fright. He too has trouble dealing with the stage. He gets really upset before performing sometimes. It is very hard to give everything one has to a show, night after night.
“Later in the evening, As you lie awake in bed
With the echoes from the amplifiers, Ringin’ in your head
You smoke the day’s last cigarette, Rememberin’ what she said”
There has been a lot of speculation about who this mysterious woman was, and what she may have said, but it must have been as hauntingly memorable as the song. Whoever she was, she was waiting at home, and not on the tour. This was not “the woman or the girl” he “knew the night before.” This was someone special he cared about and missed. Almost all musicians have their equivalent of that mysterious “she”; whether they are missing their families, friends, or lovers, they miss and reminisce about someone while they are on the road.
One Direction is no different, and almost certainly, at first they must have missed their parents. They were really very young. They look kind of scared in some of those early pictures as well. Through the years they left more and more people behind, as they traveled and developed relationships that couldn’t take the pressure of their fame and frequent absence.
One Direction wisely chose a hiatus rather than a break-up. They had the benefit of history, letting them know that any animosity, frustration, and exhaustion from the road will dissipate in a few years. Then musicians always miss the road and their band. and invariably go back to touring. If their band is gone, then they just form another one, because deep down they love it, even when it is painful and bad for their health.
One Direction guys, like so many bands before them, are recovering from being on the road.
[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]