It must be hard being in a band with me. Oh my God, I have more boxes to check and lines to draw inside of than a small child participating in an appropriate analogy. Let me start from the beginning…

I am not a cowboy, although I once sat very close to Gene Autry at a banquet in Nashville. (I believe it was before he died. He did not eat much, so the actual timing is unclear) Obviously, I don’t have a lot of experience with saddles. I neither ride horses, nor undergo pelvic exams. Yet I find myself “back in the saddle” out in Santa Barbara, diving into and writing the second half of our next album. We are two songs in, two days in (funny coincidence – I stayed in a Days Inn last month in Pittsburgh) so it can’t be going too badly. The problem is… I realize that it’s probably hard to be in a band with me, because sometimes I’m a dick.

Maybe it’s because, back in Nashville, I drive the bus. I believe every song needs to have a bus driver to make sure it hits all the stops, and gets where it’s supposed to go. Now some drivers will let the passengers ring the bell, and pull over at their suggestions. Some bus drivers tell the passengers to sit down and shut up; and when they get where they’re going, will open the door so they can exit. I am the third kind of bus driver, apparently. I’m the one who makes everyone stay silent, at gunpoint; while racing the bus to its destination (like Sandra Bullock in “Speed”) so he can get off and start drinking.

We had this idea for a song. I don’t want to give it away because it came out wonderful; I am very proud of it and have every intention of taking the major credit for all the best bits… so, let’s just call it ….”Hey, Is That Your Monkey?”

While I was waiting for Kenny and Georgia to get out of the shower (not together… you filthy, filthy reader), I sat down at the piano and came up with the crude beginnings of what the title, “Hey, Is That Your Monkey?” might be. My still moist collaborators entered the room… I showed them what I had and they, as usual, applauded and proclaimed me King for the Day. Actually, they just sat down and started turning my fifteen seconds of mumbling into art. This is where the dick part comes in.

I envisioned it a simple song. I struggle every day in Nashville to write songs that are longer than two minutes, because after two minutes I generally run out of interesting things to say. That’s when I resort to phrases like “so you know” and “let me repeat…”. Now Kenny, on the other hand, needs longer to tell his stories. “Danny’s Song”(a simple ditty if there ever was one) … has 75 verses. Part of me says, “Okay, I get it. You ain’t got money. But the sex is good.” In concert he only sings 43 of the verses but trust me… to get the chicks at Becker Junior College, I learned and sang ALL 75.

Georgia is somewhere in the middle. She goes where the muse takes her, as long as by three in the afternoon it takes her to Neiman Marcus. (Ow! Just kidding! Jeez.)

So I sit and watch them grow this song, like a musical chia pet, into this gorgeous intricate thing of beauty. And while I sit there… I get dark. Oh boy, do I get dark. It’s like the Muse entered the room and I insisted on assigned seating. Every new line was fantastic, and I should have gotten on my knees and thanked the cosmos for sending me two band mates who can take a mumbled idea like, “Hey, Is That your Monkey” and turn it into, “Whither Doth Thy Monkey Goeth?”

Do I appreciate it? No. I sit there like a dick.
“Gary, do you like this line?” … “I poop on your line!”
“Gary is this chord change okay with you?” “F#*k that chord.”

Okay, I exaggerate a little. Maybe I didn’t get totally petulant and ugly and fight them every step of the way to the Grammys. But at the end of the day I felt like I had. And that had to be hard on them. The fact that, instead of hitting me over the head, rolling me into a rug and tossing me into the pool, they continued to engage me and write with me and accept the occasional pronoun I threw in is a testimony to their talent and generosity. (Those pronouns ARE the best part of the song, though).

Bands are for learning. Bands are for growing, no matter what age you are when you join one… (my spell check typed “growing” as “groaning” and that’s right too.) Bands are for struggling to keep YOUR identity visible while creating a whole new identity with other people.

We are writing a new one today. Today I vow to have three sets of hands on the wheel (not recommended by AAA). I vow to greet the muse with a bowl of Guacamole and a cushioned seat. I vow to be dick less.

Wait, that came out wrong…….