Singer/songwriters Kenny Loggins, Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman recently formed the new band Blue Sky Riders, and were profiled by Huff/Post50 in February. They are finishing their first album and will be chronicling their experiences as a band in this blog.
...Now, in all honesty, I should be using this moment to address the fact that it's not always easy to agree on everything. I mean, for example, what married couple doesn't understand what I'm talking about here? Who gets along all the time? Or half the time? Or maybe...ever?
When human beings think that from now on they're just going to try to agree on everything, well...that's just not going to happen. That's called "A set-up for failure." Ironically, to agree all the time requires at least one VERY passive player in the game, if not two, and the soup we make will taste bland. We're lookin' for spicy here.
So here's the deal: (Forgive me... I'm going to leave Georgia out of this equation for right now, cause Gary and I are the primary ones banging our heads together. It's just our turn this time. No doubt she'll get her turn some day too. She IS a force to be reckoned with, like a sexy hurricane off shore.)
But as I was saying...Gary, and I are just two very different personalities in this situation: He watches the budget, I ignore it. He likes stability and firm ground to stand on, I like the fluidity of change and invention. Gary says, "What's wrong with how it IS?!" I say, "Nothing. I just think it could be better!"
Sometimes he's right. Sometimes I am. But there's no shortcut to finding that out, at least one that I know of yet.
So what's all this sudden rancor? These are simply the growing pains of a "baby band," folks. We're learning how to give each other room to be who we are, within a creative structure (and budget). It Is Inevitable. It Is Difficult work. It Is Necessary. It IS what IS.
Yesterday morning, Gary likened it to three people painting on the same canvas: "Last night I painted a scene of the beach and the ocean with a rubber ducky in the bottom left corner. Clean. Concise. This morning I woke up and Kenny had painted a whole carnival over my ducky! It's a great carnival, sure, but where's my damn ducky?"
When we first got together, over a year ago now, I naively thought, "Oh, I have all this experience in the studio and collaborating, I'll be able to bend like a reed in the wind here, eh? There's gotta be a hundred great, musical ways to get from point A to point F. I'll just use this so-called 'wisdom' I've racked up to avoid all the ego pit-falls that a bunch of 20-somethings, still struggling to figure out who they are, would stumble into."
But here's the deal: Years of experience piles up years of "stories," and some of them are just no longer true. Especially the ones filed under: "I was oppressed by so-n-so years ago, and I'm going to be super-vigilant now so as to never let that happen to me again."
So that kind of self-talk just closes the door to a creative dialogue. Now it suddenly turns into "Who's right and who's wrong this time? How do I get my way? What's he trying to trick me into? Where am I in all this?!" (Notice the use of the word "I." That's integral in blowing up a good thing).
The impulse to share ideas and collaborate until that final idea is a-part-mine-and-a-part-hers-and-a-part-his becomes an all too often thorny, painful path. But ironically, it seems, at least for us right now, to be the inevitable way "there." Growing pains.
So we talk about it almost every day, and we keep reinventing how three very creative types can learn to share not just ideas but direction. We admit our humanness to each other, we apologize for our defensiveness, and on our really good days, we try to set out ways to actually implement our best of intentions. Literally HOW to talk to each other, how to reassure each other that this album is not, as Quincy Jones once reminded me, "a cure for cancer. It's just pop music, for Christ sakes."
In a band, (or any relationship, for that matter), I believe the trick is to remember, "I ain't him and this ain't then." We are each others' allies here, not adversaries. We're in this for the Gipper, whoever that is.
I want Gary and Georgia to be as successful as they can possibly handle. And sure, I love making records that people like. I love selling tickets to sold-out shows. But I love making music, the kind we're making now, and I just want to keep doing that as long as I can.
It was taken away from me once, not so long ago, and I'd really like it if that never happens again. OK?
Then again, "I am the reed in the wind..."
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