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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

I never want to say my best days are behind me

During all the hours I spent at the Warped Tour, I enjoyed running into a couple of people I interviewed for POST. Coupled with my time at the 94.5 the Edge reunion show on Friday, I found the conversations to be a nice lesson in moving on. More specifically, having a nice, steady gig, but it's a gig that doesn't always last forever. Yet after that gig is over, you're able to find something as good or even better, or you're simply able to move on with your life.

In the case of the Warped Tour, I ran into someone who is a phenomenal bass player from a legendary band, but his current band has probably received more hate as being a redundant band in a sea of redundant bands. Another person I ran into used to play in a band that was loved in its day, and is still loved to this day, but this band never reached a very large audience. Anyway, he's been working as a sound man for a few years and still plays guitar here and there.

At no point during either conversation was there a sense of "My best days are behind me and my life sucks now." While I'm sure more fans would love to talk about their previous bands more than what they're up to now, I never got the idea that these guys were grieving for a time that has passed. Even though their heralded bands still get together from time to time to play one-off reunion shows, they aren't the touring machines they used to be.

I understand how doing a band itself can be a really short-term sort of thing. Most people don't know all the tough work and sacrifice that comes with doing a full-time band for years. The kind of routine is incredibly difficult to keep up with after so many trips on the road and in the studio. Sure, there are plenty of career musicians, but there are way more who don't do music for the long haul. And I think the same applies in the case of working in radio: there are plenty of more people that can be in for the long haul, yet I've come across plenty of people that are only in it for a few years. And some of those people are bitter.

I've heard plenty in my time of working in radio about how things were so much better before such and such. The industry is not full of people who have this bitter axe to grind, but there are definitely plenty of them that like to post stuff online. Still I remind myself that I know someone who lost her house in a fire and broke her neck in a helicopter accident, but she still works like a total pro and radiates positive energy every single day. Yet people who have had much smaller tragedies (like a sudden layoff or format change) use that as a stumbling block that never goes away. Luckily, I didn't meet anybody at the Edge reunion show that was grieving for a past time in their current station in life. What they did in the past was a ton of fun, but they've found something else to do that has its advantages and disadvantages.

I think about a sign I saw recently outside of a Presbyterian church, no less: "Challenges can make life bitter of better." I completely agree and sometimes, I really appreciate being around people that choose to go with the latter more than the former.

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