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"The Trouble With Being Different"
This is about entertainers in general...
and mostly about music professionals.
Most major stars have had something new to offer,
but there is a level of show business where it is a liability.
An original has a hard time in the small time.
Nightclubs, hotels, RV resorts usually want cover acts.
A cover band plays other people’s music
and tries to sound like the hit recordings.
The audience tries to pretend they are hearing the real thing.
Nobody in the Big Time does that,
but sometimes it’s the only way a local musician can earn a living.
Misty and I have always been warmly received
by audiences at auditoriums, fairs,
and other places where we were advertised
and the people came to see US.
In off times
when we would take a booking where they just wanted “a band”
or “a country show”,
we had problems.
We were told things like: “You’re not what they’re used to here.”
Why did they ever change bands at all,
if they wanted them alike?
These situations are worse for the musicians on the road,
because the owners and the audience live there,
while the agent sits home in his comfortable office,
but the band has traveled hundreds of miles
to get rejected in a strange town,
with no friends around for moral or financial support.
We could never compete in the small time.
We have sometimes sung other people’s hit songs,
but we changed them radically to fit our own style.
We have just never been good at copying other artists.
Sometimes we’ve wished we could,
to prevent on-the-road nightmares.
We have many wonderful memories of standing ovations,
and some not so wonderful
of being fired without pay, a thousand miles from home,
because we were “different”.
If we could have been a “Tribute” act,
basking in the glory of, say, Sonny and Cher,
we’d have worked forever,
but probably wouldn’t have been successful recording artists,
at least in the 1970’s,
when everybody wanted something new and different.
Lately, even record production has a narrowly defined sound
that the major labels want on all of their product,
and the radio programmers demand.
Consequently, a lot of the music and artists sound alike
and the audiences are conditioned to accept that.
Style has become a liability.
Conformity is in demand.
This may be a symptom of what our society has become.
Our many musician friends who do sound-alike music
are working much more than we are, but that’s okay.
Good for them.
Faron Young once sat here at our breakfast table
and said this about our music:
“Three seconds into the record you know who it is.”
Good for us.
Copyright © August 14, 2007 Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission.