After having started his year with the release of his third studio album, “A Real Good Kid,” folksy/soulful singer-songwriter Mike Posner is taking his act on the road in a manner far different than the usual staged tour is taking his act on the road in a manner far different than the usual staged tour with light rigs and megawatt speakers.
“I’m doing this for me,” said Posner from his cell phone, just 24 hours after commencing his coast-to-coast stroll. Striding along on a breezy but sunny Tuesday in Freehold, New Jersey (“the birthplace of the Boss,” he mentioned, speaking loudly over the wind), Posner described beginning his nearly 3,000-mile trek in Asbury Park, NJ, with a handful of fans and well-wishers at the starting gate. That send-off continued with a series of chatty fellow walkers telling him their stories as he started making his way inland.
“I’m having fun,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “I’m sure I’ll feel lousy and depressed at some point. But now, I’m meeting a million different people, with all sorts of stories so far — one guy who got a cancer diagnosis within the year; someone who got off of crystal meth four months ago. And I’m playing guitar for people with different stories along the way.”
The one common thread that Posner says the stories from the album “A Real Good Kid” have with those who stop and share conversation with him is loss. “Everyone so far has lost something they can’t get back,” he said.
Posner stated that he has been planning his “Walk Across America” for several months, and that the incentive for the trek was simple: the adventure of doing something he had never done previously, the magnitude of the land and the sky, and the difficulty connected with such a walk. “Adventure, magnitude, difficulty, the inevitable, spiritual growth — all those things are things I’ll face in the coming months. We all have lists of things we want to do, or have to do. My dad died, my friend Avicci died, Mac Miller died. I’m gonna die one day, too. But before that, I’m going to do something I always wanted to do. The time is now. Not next year. Not next month.”
As Posner has written about the spirits of his late father M. Jon Posner and pal Avicci (who passed in 2017 and 2018, respectively) on his most recent album, one couldn’t help but wonder if he felt those two were with him on the walk. “A little bit. I’m made from my dad, and in a scientific sense, he’s with me everywhere I go. More importantly though, death is a way to reframe your own life. You don’t have forever. Death puts you in touch with what matters.”
What matters most right now is that he stays hydrated, and for that, he’s got an assist from a walk manager (rather than a road manager) in an RV ahead of him, which also happens to be loaded with a few guitars for when he gets the desire to bust out some music. “It’s a purely improvisational thing when I’ll sing,” said Posner, who does plan on chronicling his trip on Twitter. “I’ll play when I want — in a park, on the street, all for free. It’s a purer way. And I should make it clear, while I am being assisted with an RV — not the way that people usually do it — I’m the only one doing the walk. The RV is there if I need it, maybe for sleep, or the luxury of carrying around my equipment. If the weather is good, I may not see the RV for miles.”
While there is no landmark or sight he’s curious to behold (“This is a cop-out, but I’m most excited to see that which I didn’t even know exists, maybe”), Posner’s goal for “Walk Across America” — beyond reaching Venice Beach in California — touches on his usuals. “I want to enjoy life, help others to enjoy theirs, be as kind as I can along the way and help others achieve transcendence, whether it’s through a song or not. And mostly be as present as I can and not let my mind jump over the wall. Like Ram Das said, ‘Be here now.’ The goals for my walk are the goals for my life.”