“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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