Down on my knees, on stage with a broken string in the Spring of 1970. Outdoor gig. Making music out of mishap, with the help of my old friend and musical adventurer Claire Lawrence:
So I yell over to Claire: “I’ve gotta put on a new string”. So either it’s dead air in the show or we come up with something to fill it. Claire starts playing. In fact I remember he just blasted out a phrase: loud and aggressive. And in the way we always did in those days, I just blasted something back at him. Guitar out of commission so I yelled it. And he answered the answer and we continued grow something.
Ross did too:
He and Glenn would have started a groove:
And we’d be off. Playing something we’d never played before. Making up chord changes, riffs, melodies, lyrics… being creative and risking looking foolish in front of everyone. That’s how we made a living. It was mishaps that got us started. But after a few of those we realized we could just go ahead and create something new from the get go. Often it became an extended intro to a song we knew. And that made the song we knew new.
Sometimes people are compelled or at least feel compelled to climb mountains, sail oceans, or take up revolutionary causes. They’re very aware that they could fail catastrophically but they do it anyway, and if they survive, they come out of it clean and fresh and feeling like life is very much worth living.
This was our way of doing it for a few years…maybe three, then….we stopped, Claire left, Ross and I resolved to shift the focus from improvisation to succesful songwriting…an entirely new adventure that peaked several years later with Brian Macleod. …but that’s another story for another time.
Of course I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this if it weren’t for all the guys in the band who poured their energy and talent into it down through the years. We did it together. It was hard work.