Yours, Mine and Ours
For those of you that don’t know first-hand, being in a band is an experience unlike no other.
It is no surprise that the band environment is a veritable powder keg of not only mind-blowing cohesion, creativity and synchronicity, but of regrets, bitter acrimony and downright hatred. While I won’t say *all* of the best bands straddle that knife-edge of violence in pursuit of great art, but the anecdotal evidence suggests a great many number of them have. Simon and Garfunkel, Jagger and Richards, Ray and Dave Davies and of course, where would this short list be without the Gallagher brothers?
Creatively speaking, these pairings produced their fair share of gems, thereby making the tension pay off in the end.
But what happens when tension happens and there is no saving grace? Therein lies the problem.
(Allow me to preface this by stating, in its present configuration, I love my band. They are, to a person, the most thoughtful, creative and easygoing folks I have ever made noise with. I truly relish rehearsal with them and look forward to it weekly, or rather *did* until the Great Plague, of course.)
I’ve said before that being in a band is like being in a marriage and having been in at least as many bands as I have marriages, I will unreservedly stand by that analogy. The only catch is that the Marriage is between a bunch of people and one of them is invariably a Bass player1
As chemistry and common goals are important in a marriage, so are they in the band setting. Lose sight of this fundamental in either milieu and you’re just courting disaster. Don’t get me wrong, compromise is an integral part of the creative process. To cede one’s ego to the (even obviously better) suggestion of another is not something that comes naturally to many musicians, and requires a fantastic amount of respect and trust between bandmates.
But while respectful collaboration is the heart of the creative process, what happens when an individual hijacks this situation for their own ends? Bands with unique, evocative, original music start playing cover songs to shore up the inadequacy of the lacking creativity. The creative drive becomes stifled, from a sense of futility: That “nothing is going to come of this *cool thing* I want to do, so I’m just not going to do it”. The creative members of the band become dissatisfied and look for avenues to express their creativity outside the band environment. Because to be denied the opportunity to CREATE is death to the creative.
This is something that non-creative people cannot, and will not, ever fully understand.
Many marriages suffer from this same sort of one-sidedness, where the needs of the one are regularly sacrificed to the needs of the whole. These are usually considered as abusive unions and as a best case scenario, hopefully end up in only divorce.
The issue with divorce in either case is that the abusive partner has unwittingly, or with malice aforethought, left their metaphorical fingerprints all over the wreckage. You’re eager to move on, but now you’ve got that little voice in the back of your head telling you “you’ve been fooled before, will I be fooled again?” Not to mention that any output you had as a band during that period, now has the acrid stink of that abusive relationship all over it. Even the most insignificant, and indeed non-creative elements they brought to the table enable them to have some measure of control over the process, even from beyond the grave, so to speak. Not surprisingly, it is a common practice amongst toxic exes, to continue the manipulation through the progeny of the union, the only thing they can continue to control.
In short, once you begin to compromise your ideals, and sacrifice your principles to appease someone else, the easier it becomes to continue to do it, coincidentally because the more you will *need* to continue doing it. Then, one day when it all comes to a head, you will shake your head in wide wonder at how you managed to stray so far from the path.
Hopefully, like me, you will have people committed to helping you put things back on the right track, and be actively invested in doing so, irrespective of how many times the abusive past unexpectedly shows up to bluster impotently.
1 No slight was intended towards Bass players. Bass players are invariably the coolest of cats in any band. Is there an egotistical, bitchy, Diva in the band? If so, it probably is NOT the Bass player.
Jon Gallagher – 2020
**The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Giant Triangle™, or its parent corporation, Gi-Tri-Corp™, all rights reserved**