Monday, December 1, 2014

the last book I ever read (Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You? excerpt twelve)

from Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You? by George Clinton with Ben Greenman:

We were reworking our own product, too. At the end of 1977, we hired a new management team: Steve Leber and David Krebs, who had been with Aerosmith and also managed Ted Nugent and Mahogany Rush. We knew that we were in that rock space, and we thought they could help us navigate. Around that same time, most of the original Parliaments left the band: Calvin, Grady, Fuzzy. They hadn’t been fully happy in years, and I could understand why. In the early years they were out in front, getting all the attention, all the girls, and then the spotlight shifted over to musicians like Billy and Eddie. Those guys were like their little brothers. They had sponsored them out of Plainfield. Those younger guys were brats and it was hard for the older guys to stomach them. Plus, when new members came in, like Bootsy, their stars shot right up past those original guys. They always had the nagging feeling that things could have gone in another direction, that they could have been on top of the elevator instead of inside it. They were wrong, of course, but you can’t always control for right and wrong. In the music business, like in everything else, so much dissatisfaction has to do with outsize dreams. When people start out in groups, everybody imagines making it, but no one thinks hard about what that means. Does it mean being a star, staying in the top hotels, headlining arenas? Or is it enough to be able to do what almost no one in the world does, and sustain a career as a professional musician? The mere fact of surviving in this industry is a huge victory. But survivors forget that the alternative in annihilation. They think that the choice is between a good career and a great one. They reach for stardom. And those unrealistic expectations are compounded by creative ability, or the lack of ability. People don’t have a clear idea of what they can and can’t do as artists. I knew my limits. I knew what I couldn’t do. I couldn’t play an instrument. I couldn’t sing as well as some and I couldn’t arrange as well as some others. But I could see the whole picture from altitude, and that let me land the planes.

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