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    We're The Band

            Being in a band is like being married. Except you’re married to more than one person. If you’re in a four piece band, for example, it gets complicated. Because you’re each married to each other. So in a band with four members, you’ve got a total of six marriages, because each one of you is married to three other people. Even polygamists would shun from such an arrangement. But it comes with the territory.
            I’ve never been married, so you’d have a point if you questioned my authority on this. But I have been in lots of bands, had many relationships with significant others, and I know plenty of people who are married. Some of these married people are in bands, and one of them actually proposed the band/marriage analogy to me. So if a married guy that I’ve played in a band with can make the comparison, I’m think I’m qualified to take the ball and run with it.
             Around 1989, my twin brother and I hooked up with our cousin and a buddy of his from high school. We started a band that lasted about three years. It was fun, but internal tensions got in the way of the music. Internal personal mechanics are what usually break up a band. It’s ironic that issues around the music, the most important reason that the band exists, rarely have anything to do with why the band doesn’t last. It’s personalities and people’s ability (or inability) to resolve conflict that tear things apart. The music often suffers if the members aren’t getting along, but not always (look at The Who - they couldn’t stand each other, but they kicked ass). Ultimately, like in a marriage, it’s the people who either make it work or not.
             A few years after we broke up, we got back together again. We were all a few years older, had matured a little, and had learned a thing or two about life. So it was better this time around. Like a married couple that separates, misses each other, experiences some personal growth, and gets back together. And this time, it’s different. You don’t let things get in the way like you used to. You’ve learned that there’s something special about the relationship that has drawn you back together, and you have a greater appreciation for what you’ve got. You’re willing to work harder to keep it going. And you’ve developed some personal skills, like owning you’re own shit, that you didn’t have before.
             In particular, the bass player and I were older, wiser, and had grown as people. In the band’s first incarnation, we butted heads often. And we had pretty hard heads. We were young, had fairly big egos, and possessed strong personalities that didn’t like to back down. Especially from each other. The other two members of the band, my twin brother and our cousin, were more easy going. They would often roll their eyes and attempt to mediate when the bass player and I would go at it.
             But this, the second coming, was a different ball game. The band rocked harder, had more fun, and enjoyed the whole process a lot more. A few years later, though, we had to split again. But this time, it wasn’t because we weren’t getting along. It was for personal and logistic reasons that had nothing to do with our personalities. Where last time the break up was no big deal, and even welcomed, this time, it hurt. All of us. It was hard saying good by. Like in a marriage, we had grown to love and respect each other. There was a special bond this time that was completely lacking the first go around. I remember our last gig. On the ride home, my drum set jammed into my convertible with the top down, I cried my eyes out. I was gonna miss this thing we had. I was gonna miss these dudes who had become very special to me. It’s no coincidence that I took a girl home that night. I was on the rebound and I needed a fill-in lover. Because my true love had left.
             In the years that followed, we all kept in touch, got together socially, and stayed in each other’s lives. After the first break-up, there was much less collective contact. But through the last incarnation and over the years, the relationships we forged had deepened and grown. Which planted the seeds for yet another crack at it.
             This was round three, and it was the best round of all. Third time really is a charm. Our rehearsals were always fun, but now it was like an exclusive boys club whenever we got together. We developed our own short hand language, and our practice sessions found us laughing, goofing around, and doing “guy shit” almost as much as we played. And the music was better, not only because we were all better musicians, but because now there was even more love and respect between us. Imagine that music is the sex of the relationship. And after you and your honey have been apart for years, you get back together. Now, you’re both better lovers. Not only because you’ve boned up on your techniques, tricks, skills, and have become more sensitive and attuned to each other, but because you love each other even more than you did a few years ago. And the sex was great then. Now it’s cataclysmic.
             Well the years go by and we break up again. This time it’s a combination of personal and logistic reasons. But the remarkable thing is, the bass player and I, the two dudes who twenty years ago didn’t want to spend another minute with each other, are closer than ever. We have discussions that go deep, are quite intimate, and cover lots of intellectual, philosophical, emotional, and spiritual ground. They’re the kind of discussions that we have with very few other men in our lives. He therefore occupies a place in my life that few people do.
             If I look back, it’s hard to imagine my life without this band as a part of it. It’s hard to imagine my life without the relationships that this band created. Fostered. Developed. Nurtured. Through music, we all married each other. Countless ups and downs later, there’s still something there. There will always be something there.
             I’ve been in lots of other bands besides this one. I’ve been in bands that have made a lot more money, gigged a lot more often, and played in front of much bigger crowds. And those bands were all like marriages too. But they weren’t like this marriage. They weren’t like this band.
             This band is the love I’ll never forget.

    ©2009 Clint Piatelli. All Rights (and a dowery full of Wrongs) Reserved.

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