May All Your Favorite Bands Stay Together

May 12, 2023

“We’re getting the band back together!” That was Jake and Elwood’s dream in The Blues Brothers Movie. Getting the band back together is a worthy dream. During my college years, while driving back and forth between Little Rock and Palo Alto, the Blues Brothers cassette kept me entertained and awake as I sang along with it at the top of my lungs. In fact, one of the crazy things I did as principal of Malibu High School was sing the Blues Brothers’ Everybody Needs Somebody at the Malibu High School Talent Show with senior and eventual Homecoming King Joe Bolter. He was a perfect Elwood (and continues to have a highly successful career in comedy producing/writing), and I was a semi-adequate Jake. What we lacked in talent we made up for in exuberance. And I’m pretty sure the audience was laughing with us.

Whatever people thought of my performance, we had real talent at MHS. Two of my former students formed Dawes, the now highly successful folk rock band. Actually, three of them formed the original band (Simon Dawes), but that band broke up (a theme in this post). The songwriter/guitarist has had a wildly successful independent career, and the other two continue to slay it with Dawes. I have many of their songs on my playlists, and I even try to strum them out on my own guitar from time to time. One of my favorites is “All Your Favorite Bands,” which finds the singer remembering and wishing the best for an old friend, ending each chorus with “And may all your favorite bands stay together.”

That’s what we want: we want our favorite bands to stay together. Whether it’s a band we listen to, or a band we are in, keeping it together is at the core of our desires in life. And these bands don’t have to be musical. They can be bands of brothers and sisters who work or play together, cheer each other on, and carry burdens for each other through challenging times. And while there are exceptions – the Rolling Stones, for example – most bands don’t stand the test of time. And that’s OK. As Dr. Seuss said, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

I started thinking about this after my friend Billy Mitch sent me a video of musicians around the world singing “The Weight” by The Band, another folk rock band. The Band is yet another group that eventually broke up, but their legacy is long-lasting. While “The Weight” was not a top hit in its time, it has become recognized as one of the most influential rock songs of all time. It’s been interpreted a number of ways, but the final line of the chorus, “You put the load right on me,” speaks of taking on burdens so that others can live more freely. That sentiment has won wars, cemented loves and friendships, and founded religions. Great bands share the load, giving all their members, and maybe even their fans, the freedom to live richer lives. 

This video that Billy Mitch shared (which is TOTALLY worth five minutes of your time) was created by Playing for Change, a non-profit group working to inspire and connect the world through music. As stated on their website, “Great songs can travel everywhere bridging what divides us and inspiring us to see how easily we all get along when the music plays.” The Band didn’t stay together, yet they continue to inspire people on a worldwide basis. And when I watch this video, as opposed to watching the horror that is often the daily news, I am filled with hope and love.

So what are our bands that we want to keep together? And what if, in spite of Blues Brothers-esque efforts, we can’t get our favorite bands back together? Speaking literally, I think the world would have been a better place if The Eagles, The Beatles, Queen, and Pink Floyd could have stayed intact. But going beyond the music, we all have relationships and teams we wish could last, or could have lasted, forever – our loves, our families, our friends, our work colleagues, our religious and volunteer groups, and whatever other bands that have come together in our lives. In a perfect world, those friendships, loves, colleagues, teams, and families would stay together and prevail in their prime for the duration of our lives. But in our non-perfect, but still remarkably beautiful world, it’s best just to appreciate the bands we love while we are or were part of them, and no matter what, to let their lessons, beauty, warmth, purpose, hope, love, and laughter nourish our souls for all the days of our lives. And when we find a new band, we can bring all of those previous experiences to it, allowing us to be the best and most supportive band member we can be.

Thanks to all of my fellow band members who have shaped my life and nurtured my heart and soul over the years. And maybe, just maybe, there’s a chance to, every once in a while, get our bands back together and celebrate what we had.

And … may all your favorite bands stay together.

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  1. Pam Brady says:

    Thank you for acknowledging the power of music.
    Whether bands stay together or not, I find music has the remarkable ability to calm your mind, heart and soul while reducing anxiety! Medicine for your spirit!

    1. Mike Matthews says:

      No question about it, Pam Brady. I agree on all fronts! Thanks!

  2. Carolyn Seaton says:

    I loved this post, Mike, as it resonated with me on so many levels. I am shocked, however, that you didn’t include a reference to the greatest band of all time, Spinal Tap.

    1. Mike Matthews says:

      Ha! Thanks, Carolyn. And while Spinal Tap may not be known as one of England’s greatest bands, they certainly were one of the loudest. And it did bring a tear to my eye when the band was brought back together thanks to the surge of interest from Japan.

  3. Serena Clark says:

    Mike, you are a truly gifted writer. I’m grateful for the time I had at MHS with you as “the leader of the band.” Great times! I too, enjoy listening to Dawes and am so proud of those Goldsmith brothers!

    1. Mike Matthews says:

      Hello Serena! Thank you! And those were magical years that we had together. Thanks for all you did to make it so special.

  4. Bill Sampson says:

    Thanks as always Mike. The album Kind of Blue was recorded by my favorite band, the Miles David Sextet, in March and April 1959, just before I turned twelve. Today, May 13, 2023, it ranks #187 on Amazon for POP music, which it most definitely is not. Books and plays and musicals have been written about the recording of this album as we used to call them – please indulge this quote from one of several sets of liner notes: “This is the one jazz record owned by people who don’t listen to jazz, and with good reason. The band itself is extraordinary (proof of Miles Davis’s masterful casting skills, if not of God’s existence), listing John Coltrane and Julian “Cannonball” Adderley on saxophones, Bill Evans (or, on “Freddie Freeloader,” Wynton Kelly) on piano, and the crack rhythm unit of Paul Chambers on bass and Jimmy Cobb on drums.” I won’t argue with the suggestion by the author of the notes that that band proves God’s existence.

    Naturally I still love the Stones, the Miracles and the Count Basie big band, one of which is still going strong. Toss in Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention and we have an interesting musical stew.

    In one of Bill Bixler’s bands one of the parents made the very insightful observation that because of music the kids learned to live in harmony.

    Happy Mother’s Day to every Mom and to everyone.

    1. Mike Matthews says:

      I love this response. Thanks, Bill. I learned details about things I know a little about. Not to diminish your thoughts, but it reminded me that the only reason the Blues Brothers were musically successful was because of the extraordinary blues musicians who were in “the band.”

      So many students who didn’t like high school that much found refuge in MHS Band Teacher Bill Bixler’s room – he is one of my best hires. He saved many students, and inspired so many more. I think the last count is four Grammy awards, including one for Blake Mills (who is the guitarist mentioned in the post), for Bill’s former students. All of that and living in harmony. Thanks again.

  5. Rose Ann Hansen says:

    I love this post… evokes so many memories/feelings of my favorite bands and the sense of loss I felt when they would announce their break-ups and then the sense of elation when they would announce their reunion tours.
    I am always grateful that I saw The Eagles on the last tour they did with Glenn Frey….and then I traveled to Phoenix to see their Hotel California tour with Deacon Frey singing in his has dad’s place…
    what better place to see that concert than in the desert.
    Music and songs always trigger memories for me…and this post made me smile. And it reminded me of the High School musical renditions that you and the guys performed . Thank you!

    1. Mike Matthews says:

      Kind words, Rose Ann. Thank you! And wow! You’ve gone out of your way to experience great music over the years. Very cool. And I’m totally with you on music (and for me, food) triggering memories and bringing smiles. Thanks for reading and enjoying.

  6. Ben Dale says:

    All your blogs should be about music…

    Also, Truckstop is still together so rest easy my friend.

    1. Mike Matthews says:

      All my blog posts should be about music. I could take that as complement, that the music ones hit home for you the most. Or I could take it that you consider my non-music posts to be garbage. I’ll assume the best and the former. And I’m glad Truckstop is still together. As you know, y’all are on my playlists as well. And it’s a good thing, because when I need my share of sadness, brokenheartedness, and that lower-than-low-snake’s-belly-in-a-wagon-rut feeling, I can always count on your lyrics and melodies to put me right there. Keep creating my friend. I love it.

      1. Ben Dale says:

        Obviously I meant that your love of music is appreciated by a fellow lover of music.

        I’m glad Truckstop has had its intended effect!

  7. Seth Finn says:

    The video of “The Weight” certainly was worth 5 minutes, pretty cool to see so many come together, and find so much joy; it was like watching individual cultures melt away, or better yet, combine to become something stronger. I knew that song, but not well enough that I knew the name, so I listened as I read the rest of your post. And I’m listening to (and very much enjoying) “Kind of Blues” as I type now. All of it, very much including every post your write Mike, are time well spent, I’m thankful you take the time to write these thought provoking entries, my life is richer for it.

    1. Mike Matthews says:

      Very nicely said, Seth. Melt away. Good stuff. Thanks for the thoughtful musically-influenced response.

  8. Alan Dobbins says:

    Mike, both you and Billy Mitch rock!!!

  9. Ben Dale says:

    Coincidentally to your blog here, rediscovered this song:


    If the link is rococo, the song is Strangers by The Kinks.

    1. Mike Matthews says:

      I’ve never heard that one, Ben. Thanks for sharing. “Strangers on this road we are on, but we are not two, we are one.” Different song for the Kinks. Kind of dark, yet hopeful. Thanks again.

  10. Karen Komatinsky says:

    Nice read…..and am happily reminded of a great ‘band’ we were once a part of! It was a wonderfully, magical, fun and great run! Smiling….as I am glad that it happened!!
    Karen K.

    1. Mike Matthews says:

      I’m glad it happened too, my friend! It was a fantastic eleven-year South Bay tour!

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