After a week of interviews with pilgrims, priests and nuns, I was beyond excited to be able to play my familiar role as music journalist. Before I headed to Madrid for World Youth Day, Vince, a friend and the first musician I ever toured with, told me Mike Mangione would be in Spain performing. I met Magione a few years ago and after Vince re-connected us I did some research on his new band.
Blown away by his honest lyrics and the talented musicianship of his band, I knew I had to make it to one of their World Youth Day performances. While I´ve been struggling with whether or not music journalism is a wise choice for my profession over the past few months, Mangione put things into perspective. For two years he lived in his van touring the country and faced many struggles along the way.
“People say it´s amazing that you can do it for so long. It´s not amazing. I don´t know what else to do,” he said. “It´s hard. You´re sleeping in a van, you´re sleeping on the floor. You´re eating nothing. You get paid very little but I wouldn´t want anything else.”
This is exactly how I´ve been feeling. I can´t imagine not writing about music and as I explained my situation further to Mangione, he said if there´s ever a moment of complete comfort and stability, we´re in the wrong place.
“The reward of meeting people that connect to what you´re doing — and you experience that together — is far more expensive then any kind of food, money, or hotel room,” he added. “I don´t know what else to do but I think I´m going to continue this for a while.”
Magione told me many of the stories behind his songs, how his faith influences his music, and his thoughts on World Youth Day. He even confessed that he often finds inspiration and writes new material while in Mass. He has spent the past 10 years following his passion regardless of the hurdles. Chatting with him in the Real Madrid soccer stadium while hundreds of pilgrims roamed the stands reaffirmed why I love music so much: its ability to connect.
Regardless the language barrier, ethnicity, or age, music allows us all to relate. As long as it holds that power for me, there is no reason for me to keep questioning my path in life. I´m a journalist and at this point in my life, there is nothing else I´d rather do.
Mike Mangione & The Union are:
Mike Mangione – vocals/guitar | Tom Mangione – guitar | Kristina Priceman – violin | John Collins – bass | Nez – drums | Patrick Hoctor – cello