Behind the Music

bandI love watching and reading biographies of musicians and bands. Their stories usually follow a similar progression.

They have an “it” factor. “It” is raw talent, a singular devotion, a stage presence, or a coolness that is just right for the times. More likely, it is a combination of all of these. The members of U2 admit they started out short on talent, but they had other aspects of the “it” factor that made them special.

They are bolstered with a confidence that keeps them going. That may come from within, from each other, a parent, or a mentor.

They endure a long grind in obscurity. The “overnight successes” usually have been doing gigs in small venues for years.

They finally get a big break. Someone who can move things forward eventually notices, probably because of increased exposure.

They are willing to adapt. Johnny Cash wanted to sing Gospel music. The Beach Boys began as an acapella group. The great bands like the Beatles reinvented themselves several times to stay relevant. They learned to appeal to the market.

They become successful. They have the hit song, followed by others and suddenly become a part of the popular culture.

They experience pressure like they have never known. Success breeds the need for more success. It doesn’t matter if you no longer want to write or perform the same kind of songs, if you are tired and need a break, or if you trying to figure out how to deal with your new found success, you must produce, because there is a group of people dependent upon you.

They are taken advantage of. Usually, it is a manager with whom they signed a bad deal. Sometimes a parent or associate. Musicians who are successful at a young age are usually very naïve. Seldom do artistic and business skills reside in the same person.

They melt down. That is what rock bands and musicians are famous for. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Success, money, pressure, youth, relentless touring, and artistic passion are a volatile combination.  Bands fight and break up. Musicians become dependent upon alcohol and drugs. The meltdown phase has led to the end of bands and the death of too many musicians.

If they survive, they eventually learn how to balance their life with their artistic endeavors. In short, they grow up. They learn to take care of themselves and their families, how to be on top of the business side of things, and how to take charge of their schedules. Once they get clean and sober and take control of their lives, they can keep on being creative and continue to improve their skills for a long time to come.

I love these stories because I get to see the lives of the people who have blessed me with their art. I am inspired by them and I always find application beyond their personal stories.

  • We all have our own unique “it” factor.
  • We all need encouragement. We can be that encouragement for someone else.
  • We need to do what we do, even if it is in obscurity.
  • We need to be willing to adapt. One of life’s most important lessons.
  • We need to be willing to deal with stress, as well as as success.
  • We need to persevere.

These are some important lessons as we are write the story of our lives, the real story behind the music that everyone else hears and the stage presence that they see.


About Glenn

Glenn Hager is a blogger, former newspaper columnist, and author of two books, An Irreligious Faith and Free Range Faith.
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