It is accepted that lying to oneself is part and parcel of creating the motivation to continue learning and practicing an instrument. We do this by assuring ourselves that we are better than we actually are. While we sit around doing the rote mechanics of scales, chords etc our acquaintances are living their lives and having quite the good time of it. And of course, most friends support us even though we are not that good because they like us - and because we run in musical circles there are certainly perks available to friends. Parties, alcohol, girls/boys… just off the top of my head.
The best rationale for this obsessive behavior is that you must always be prepared just in case some lucky break comes your way. Or - you are only as good as the last time you picked up your instrument. Which means you should feel guilty every time you put the damn thing down. But there comes a point where invariably circumstances arrive when you are truly put “on the spot.” This experience can be exciting, frightful or humiliating. It all depends on your level of preparation and the state of your mental health.
My experience in this came when we recorded Tight Receiver in Bobby Cochran’s Norwalk studio. (How I got from Phoenix to Bobby’s studio is another story I will save for later.) He agreed to record/produce the songs and stated his belief that no one really knows what will become popular. But you need someone who can make a phone call, or walk into an office to present your music to someone who can then make another call. Hmm… everyone was pretty excited about this but I was from Phoenix and didn’t know much about Bobby and the Midnights. They proceeded to tell me that he had been in Steppenwolf, his uncle was Eddy Cochran of Summertime Blues fame, and that he was just returning from doing a seminar in Nashville.
We arrived and were led into a rehearsal room. As I looked around there were drums, amps and tour cases stenciled in white. This was Bobby’s band. The first name I saw was Billy Cobham, whom I had recently seen in Phoenix playing with Santana and John “Mahavishnu” Maclaughlin. Are you kidding me I thought? Bass cases were stenciled with Alphonso Johnson from Weather Report who had replaced Tim Bogart of Vanilla Fudge. And opposite to Cochran’s stuff was Bob Weir from the Grateful Dead.
Now Bobby walks in and says who’s the guitarist? “I am” escaped from my lips and it was a voice I didn’t recognize. He says… well, we will stick one Marshall cabinet in this room and mic it up, the other Marshall will go in this very long hallway I have behind this door, you won’t see it, but the hall really gives a nice natural reverb. He then brings me into the control area behind the glass where he will work the board and says to me. Here, put all your effects on the floor next to my chair. Expecting to be in the other room with the rest of the Tight Receiver Band I sheepishly asked - where will I be when I play? Oh, he said, right here next to me… and face me. It was like three feet away I realized. Three feet away from half the Bobby Cochran/Bob Weir guitar team! Recognizing my panic which he, in retrospect, found to be very funny says… “Oh, I love guitar and I like to watch guitar players when they play. Just tune up your guitar and we’ll get going, ok? Let me know when you're ready.”
The Tight Receiver EP Produced/Recorded by Bobby Cochran can be previewed in the Music Section of Raven Cayne