Page Wilson died this week. He was a low-key Virginia music legend, the kind of person who you sort of knew subconsciously was important when he was here, but who you realized sadly and instantly was tremendously significant the second he was gone. Page Wilson hosted the Out of the Blue Radio Revue for decades “from” his kitchen in his house out in the Chickahominy Swamp, playing “pure-bred American mongrel music,” including bluegrass, country, folks and alternative artists. Wilson also was a pretty successful touring musician and a mentor and helper to many, many up-and-coming artists.
Page Wilson didn’t seem to be in the music bidness for money; to the contrary, reports are that he struggled increasingly with financial challenges as the years went along. Nonetheless, he did what he loved: he wrote and played music, he helped new artists get noticed and established without asking for compensation, he hosted a radio program that was truly valuable but not a money-maker.
It is probably unrealistic to think that Wilson never questioned the choice to do what he loved in life regardless of the financial returns or lack thereof. In fact, I have to believe someone as insightful and thoughtful as Page Wilson understood the trade-off he was making, and made the choice anyway.
Choosing to do what you love does not always result in financial challenges. The best kind of financial success is that which comes from pursuing your passion. But life isn’t always that simple, and the choices aren’t always that easy. Sometimes you have to choose between a job you can tolerate that will bring in the dough and a calling that you love that might eventually bring in the dough, but will require financial sacrifices in the short-term, and maybe the long-term.
Page Wilson will be missed for many reasons: he was a music legend, he was champion for many fledgling musicians, he was charitable with his time and money, he was a friend to many. But he also was a flesh-and-blood, non-idealized example – particularly for a non-musician like me – of someone who chose with eyes wide open to pursue his passion in life, regardless of the challenges that calling brought, because he knew it was his one and only life.
In addition to everything else, the life he lived and the example he set is why I will miss and remember Page Wilson..