My name is Middleman. But don’t let the name fool you. These guys make sure that’s not my job in this band. I work with two very strong male personalities and though at times they butt heads, they’re very sensitive to the fact that I will NOT be the tie-breaker. Unless of course, I have my own distinctive opinion about the issue at hand. And then, of course, majority rules and we all go MY way.
I remember my first recording session in Nashville. I had written an uptempo song that I thought was a smash and as I was directing the band, the piano player/band leader said “You know, this is really a ballad.” I said, “Oh, no, this is definitely an uptempo song…” to which my publisher said “Georgia, you’re new to Nashville. These guys have been doing this for a long time. I would listen to them. If they think it’s a ballad, you might want to record it that way.” I was stunned. I was the writer of the song, was sure I knew how I wanted it to be recorded and yet these two men who had been working in the Nashville music business for way longer than I had, told me “No, that’s NOT how it should be.” And I was too intimidated to speak up for myself. We recorded the song as a ballad and once it was done, I put it away in a drawer never to listen to again. Until fifteen years later, when I made enough money to buy back the rights to that damn song so I could record it again one day MY way.
Business is about compromise and it was an invaluable lesson I learned that day: Never work with people who don’t value your opinion. Just don’t do it. When I finally started getting more experience in Nashville, I started feeling more confident about how to express myself and I saw how important it was to surround myself with people I trust and who trust me at work. Life is too short. I am always interested in someone else’s perspective if they feel passionate about something but when it comes down to the final decision, it should be the writer who decides the final vote. He/she is the creator, he/she knows how it should go.
So what do you do when there are three writers on a song and all three have a different idea of how things should roll? Such are the dilemmas of Blue Sky Riders. What’s interesting to me about this band is that I feel truly respected here and when I have an opinion, I speak up and feel I am heard. Sometimes I side with Gary; sometimes with Kenny. Sometimes I have a third point of view. But because this band is rooted in respect for one another, we simply talk it through before that pit in our stomach turns into a full-grown stress bomb. Sometimes I forget that and hold it in. I’ll wake up with that sick feeling in my belly because I DIDN’T say anything and I’m always amazed to find out that I’m not the only one with that feeling. We three are very much in sync with each other and I’m learning with age that you HAVE to speak up. Again, life is too short. And once you do, you find out all kinds of neat things, like “Wow. I felt the exact same way but didn’t know how to bring that up.” It’s amazing what gets accomplished when people actually sit down and say the hard stuff.