The Mythical Broomstick

It’s when you see that the red recording light is on.  It’s when the TV camera is pointed at you.  It’s when you know this is the one that counts.  It’s the broomstick, or at least that’s my expression for it.  It’s when everything is on the line and you’re nervous, and you’re trying so hard that… you try too hard.  You’re so concerned with being at the top of your game that you forget that the most important things are to relax and listen.

Where the hell was my placard when I needed it?

But that broomstick stuff is all a myth.  Of course I’m referring to our Cleveland show that was webcast.  It was our fourth night in a row and I was tired.  My voice was shot and kept faltering unless I pushed it too hard.  And I wanted to make these sets the absolute best because I had a lot of friends watching as well as a lot of new people.  And that attitude is a formula for disaster.  I didn’t feel great about the sets after they were done.  I got lots of good feedback from people watching but that doesn’t change my own impression of what happened.

But later on the bus we listened to the show and watched some of the video.  And you know what?  It was great.  Much better than I thought it was.  It didn’t sound like I was trying too hard.  It sounded relaxed and creative and fun and hypnotic.

I had a similar experience recently taping a video with Max Creek.  We did “Playing In The Band” for Telefunken’s Song Of Their Own series and I did the first pass of a mix for it.  And at the time I thought we were stiff and self-conscious.  But watching the video now I can see that we were on top of our game.  We were relaxed and patient allowing the jam to ebb and flow naturally and we hit some amazing space considering we were only playing to the cameras.

I guess the point is – if you find yourself in that situation, where it’s all on the line and you have to be at the top of your game, don’t sweat it.  Pull that mythical broomstick out of your ass and do what you do.  Get your swagger on.  And don’t beat yourself up if you feel like you choked.  Chances are you didn’t.  Chances are it came out much better than you thought at the time.