Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Steve Miller Band "Fly Like An Eagle"

Like pretty much ever single solitary person my age in the late 80s, I owned a copy of Steve Miller's Greatest Hits on cassette.  And I listened to it constantly.

I mean, I knew every word, every inflection.  I knew how long the pause was from one song to the next, so I could start humming, in sync with the music.  In fact, at a certain point, I didn't really need the cassette at all.  I could have sung/hummed the whole album, in real time.

WBCN was promoting that Steve Miller would be stopping by the station, and he would be playing live in the studio.  He had a new album out, but he was sure to play some old hits too.

And he did oblige, launching into a spaced-out version of "Fly Like An Eagle," solo, on an electric guitar.

"Time keeps on slippin' slippin' slippin . . . into the future . . ." Miller sang, and I sang too.

Then something strange happened.

Miller sang "Feed the children, who don't have enough to eat."

I kinda froze.  What was he going to do?!?!

Now maybe you're saying to yourself, "I don't get it.  What's the problem?

Here's the problem.

The lyric is "Feed the babies, who don't have enough to eat.  Shoe the children, with no shoes on their feet."

But he had flipped a word, singing "Feed the children, who don't have enough to eat."

Was he going to have to complete the word flip and sing, "Shoe the babies, with no shoes on their feet"?  That doesn't make any sense.  Babies don't need shoes!

And it's not like he can stop the song to gather himself and think his decision through.  He's going to have to do something.

We're only talking about 2 seconds.  But I learned a valuable professional lesson in the space between the lines.

If it's live, let it go.

I've opened up the microphone on live radio tens of thousands of times.  And sometimes, you make mistakes.  You stumble over a word.  Or a whole sentence.  You misplace modifiers.  You accidentally swear.  You introduce a Bruce Hornsby song as "Bruce Cockburn."

And when you do, there's not much you can do.  Once it has gone out, you can't bring it back.  The only thing you can do it go forward.  You can compose yourself so you don't fuck up again.  But you go forward.

That's was Steve Miller did that day.

He sang "Feed the children, who don't have enough to eat.  Shoes the babies . . ." and then he just let his voice drift off, and filled with his guitar.  He picked up the lyrics with the next line, "House the people, living in the street, oh-oh there's a solution" and he just kept going.

I took that lesson to heart.  Even Steve Miller, a guy who probably sang "Fly Like An Eagle" more times than even I had, can screw up from time to time.

But professionals don't let a stumble completely derail things.  They just gather themselves, and plow ahead undaunted.

It's great advice for DJ's, and for life.

Hear the song on Youtube.

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