The lights go down. You just finished performing your first song with your new band. You're in Branson, Missouri. After years of earning recognition everywhere except the United States, you're looking into a sea of hopeful-yet-ignorant faces. They are judging you not for who you are, but for whom you may (or may not) sound like.
The opening line is simple: "Welcome to the grand illusion." You've rehearsed it hundreds, if not thousands, of times. You could recite it in your sleep. The phrase is as ubiquitous to those faces judging you as hockey is in your home country of Canada. Yet you stop. Your inner monologue stutters with silence. The weight of the scene is upon you. And it's much heavier than you could have ever predicted.
"Oh, there was a moment," Styx singer Lawrence Gowan explained in a recent phone interview. "It lasted for about five seconds. And I thought, 'This is going to be the first time any of these people will ever hear this song sung by someone else."
"But it all worked out," he continued. "After the song was over, I looked into the crowd and people were high-fiving. That was more than 2,000 shows ago, so I think I'm doing all right."
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