Auditioning for Tina Turner

interview-1371360__340I've been seeing lots of articles lately about how to ace a job interview. Perhaps because the economy is improving and hiring is up? Or because so many Millennials don't stick with the same gig? Either way, if you're dusting off your resume and re-entering the hiring process, I thought I'd dust off this article I wrote years ago and re-post it for you.

In the rock world the job interview takes the form of an audition. You come in and play, because if you can't cut it musically there's nothing to talk about. But the principle's the same: you want to make a killer first impression.

This was a lesson learned the hard way for me thirty-five years ago when I was making a living in music. I had heard that the Ike & Tina Turner Revue—one of the hottest R&B groups on planet Earth at the time—were looking for a drummer. I was playing piano in honky-tonk bars at the time but drumming was what I did best, and somehow I managed to get an audition.

I remembered seeing Ike & Tina open for the Rolling Stones at the LA Forum when Tina upstaged them with a wildly feverish performance that forever put her on the map as a powerhouse singer. The Ike & Tina Revue were scary-good.

CONTINUE READING »

Confronting my Boomer bias

top-95717__340Ever notice how our minds can selectively choose data that reinforce our biases but ignore or forget data that challenge those biases?

This is what locks our prejudices into place of course. When new information arises that would call into question our preconceived beliefs—about individuals, groups, or just about anything—we tend to discount that information or quickly forget it. If we don’t, we encounter “cognitive dissonance”—a kind of mental stress associated with trying to reconcile contradictory information.

This explains how we can hang onto a business model or strategy too long, ignoring any “disconfirming data.” The global recording industry, for instance, has shrunk to half its size in twenty years by clinging to old notions about what customers want and how they should be satisfied. (Every business needs to watch out for this, especially now, as I've written about in recent months.)

On a personal level, I ignore disconfirming data all too often, and this week I discovered another instance of it. This is a somewhat trivial example of it, and doesn’t carry any serious consequences (since I don't produce or distribute records), but it may kick up a fun debate.

Being a serious pop music archeologist, I love to check out Ye Auld Record Charts and reminisce about the great singles and albums of bygone eras. Betraying my Boomer upbringing, over the last year I’ve been enjoying the 50th anniversary of the release of some spectacular records.

CONTINUE READING »

Playing the hits

music-1228384__340Since April of this year Paul McCartney has been knocking out three-hour sets for sellout crowds in arenas and stadiums all over Europe and North America on his latest One on One Tour.

His 38-song set list includes over two dozen Beatles’ classics plus an assortment of Wings’ hits. He’s also been playing hour-long sound checks before the main show at each venue, performing different songs for special audiences.

What’s refreshing about the approach of this 74-year-old entertainer, which he spelled in a New York Times interview last week, is his commitment to give audiences what they want.

When asked by the Times reporter what he thought of Bob Dylan’s preference to perform only new songs on his current tour, McCartney responded:

I’ve thought about that a lot…My concern is for the audience. I remember when I went to concerts, particularly when I was a kid, it was a lot of money to save up. So I imagine myself going to my show: Would I like to hear [McCartney] play all new songs? No.

CONTINUE READING »

NPD

heart-741510__340Who’da thunk that narcissism would be a trending topic these days? And specifically a condition known as “Narcissistic Personality Disorder?”

This talk about NPD has come to pass because many in the mental health community are raising serious questions about the psychological fitness of one of the leading candidates this year for President of the United States.

More than a few clinicians have pointed out that this candidate’s behavior appears to fit all nine criteria of NPD in the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association. (Psychiatric professionals are admonished to not deliver a definitive diagnosis of an individual from a distance, but happily I'm under no such restriction!)

Because we often use the term narcissism in a humorous context—e.g., to tease someone who is overly "image conscious"—it’s easy to miss the fact that true narcissism is a legitimate social disorder, and sometimes overlaps with other serious disorders. Folks with NPD can display, among other things, a disturbing lack of empathy for others. (Check out the nine criteria for NPD here.)

I’ve had some experience dealing with rock & roll celebrities who exhibit some narcissistic behaviors. But with a few exceptions those who seem so full of themselves on stage are quite the opposite in private. (I’ve written here and here about the extroverted behavior of many rock stars who are introverts when the spotlight is off.) A strong ego is necessary to sustain the public scrutiny that accompanies success, but that doesn't equate to narcissism.

CONTINUE READING »

The day the universe changed

record-player-150292__340 50 years ago this week, The Beatles served notice that a new day had dawned in popular music.

Revolver, their seventh studio album, was such a game changer the public seemed initially stunned by it. (The musician community certainly was, when the band's latest offering forced them to confront the artistic gap between The Beatles and just about everyone else.) The LP sold millions—as any Beatles’ record did—but less than Rubber Soul eight months earlier.

Record buyers may have been a tad distracted by John Lennon's remarks that The Beatles were “more popular than Jesus,” which produced mass burnings of Beatles’ records in America's Bible Belt days before the release of Revolver. (Oops.)

But eventually the new album got the attention it deserved, due in large part to its unusual instrumentation (including the use of clavichord, vibraphone, tack piano, tabla, tambura, sitar, and string octet) and especially its novel production effects (including backwards recording, tape loops, variable tape speeds, and automatic double tracking). All contributed to a sonic masterpiece, as demonstrated by the other-worldly "Tomorrow Never Knows.”

CONTINUE READING »