Whew! Today’s going to be a busy one! It’s a good thing that I voted almost two weeks ago because I don’t think I would have had time to hit the polls. I’ve done my civic duty and now can only hope for the best, or what I believe is the best for Americans of all colors, religions, ethnicities, genders and sexual preferences. It’s a good thing I’m going to be busy because otherwise I think the stress would paralyze me. Today I’ve got two rehearsals in two different towns, neither of which is mine, ha, ha! One is from 11-2pm in Des Plaines, Illinois with a blues/rock band and the other is from 7:30-10ish in Addison, Illinois with a classic rock band. In between I’ve got to pick up the kid from school, ferry her to dance, make dinner for the family, pick up my wife from the train station and my daughter from dance, eat dinner and maybe squeeze in lunch and a dog walk if George is lucky. We’ll see. This, to me, is the best way ever to avoid staring at a screen and watching the early poll tallies coming in.
This has been a highly contested and vicious race which has actually impacted friendships all over the country as normally easy to get along with neighbors have built fences between each other. It has impacted our work lives as well because we’ve all been quick to pass judgment upon each other based on our political support and not really sitting down and talking with each other. Two of the bands that I work with are comprised of a mix of liberals and conservatives. We work together quite well as we are united by a common cause, music, and we essentially avoid discussing politics with each other. It keeps the peace between those of us who would hammer away at each other otherwise. It also allows us to be friends. We don’t call each other names, insult each other or act like rival gang members. We don’t call into question each other’s patriotism, dedication to our country, or anything else. And when we perform we are just as apolitical as when we rehearse. We do what our political system hasn’t done in some time, we make it work.
One of the key issues in most bands is personality combined with egos. Musicians are known for having both, which is quite frankly a natural situation with any group of performers. Do you have to be best buddies with your band mates? Not necessarily but it certainly helps us be the best performers we can be when we can work with each other with a limited amount of hostility and interpersonal drama. After all, when we perform together we are ultimately trying to as a group be better than we are on our own and it takes a healthy mix of people and personalities to do so. We don’t have to always agree with each other either, but in order for the band to work well we all have make compromises, which are to the benefit of us all. There is room for the individual in a cohesive group, but as a member of the group and not at the expense of the group.
I saw a photo the other day of Steven Tyler and Joe Perry hanging out with President Obama on Air Force One. They got to ride home in the plane with the POTUS, which is pretty cool. Both Tyler and Perry are Republicans and they are Americans. It was clear in the photo that there was no animosity whatsoever between any of the three despite being members of political parties. I saw the photo on Facebook and there were positive remarks but a whole slew of “oh my God, the Traitors” rhetoric as well. I don’t understand how this has happened over the past twenty years or so. There were three Americans in the photo, not enemies. Three people like you and me, living their lives and going about their business to the best of their abilities. I’m a liberal, have been all of my life. I served in the United States Army as an infantry officer after I graduated from music school, by choice. I swore to lay down my life for my country, its constitution and ALL of its citizens. And yet there are many out there who are labeling folks like me as the enemy of this country, and just as many saying the same about conservatives.
I want my bands to succeed financially and musically, and I want that for all the members of the groups regardless of genders, sexual persuasion, gender identities, political party affiliation, religious identity, etc. and I’m willing to work WITH the members to do so toward mutual goals. I want to do the same as a citizen of the United States, and I want this to be a country that shows that it can do so. I want my daughter, who I ferry back and forth to school, dance lessons and whatever else she needs to do, to know that this is a country that values her as both an individual and a member of the society. I want her to understand the value of being able to discuss opposing viewpoints and creating compromises that make the whole better than the parts. It’s time to go make some music!