Our TunesDay thought today is courtesy of The Grateful Dead (no shock there). Before I get to it, I’m wondering if you’ve ever taken a ride on a roller coaster? If you have, there’s always the moment when the cars are done climbing and before you plunge down that first drop. It always seems very quiet to me – a pause to collect yourself. Those moments in between exist in music as well, and today I want to talk about one of my favorites.
Sugar Magnolia was a staple of the Dead’s repertoire for nearly their entire existence. In fact, it was played more often in concert than any other song they performed save for one. The song had a coda called “Sunshine Daydream” that the band often used as jumping off point for a jam or for vocal histrionics. There was always a moment in between the song itself and the coda. While the topics of our TunesDay screens are the songs themselves, today I want to call your attention to that moment.
What was intriguing about the moment is that you never knew how long it would last. Sometimes it was a second, sometimes it would last until the end of the next set when the band, having played a dozen other songs, would pick back up with Sunshine Daydream. The longest it ever lasted was a week – in between two concerts held to memorialize Bill Graham. For me it’s a time to enjoy the brief silence, to collect myself (the pause always followed a raucous jam) for what’s to come next.
I think we need more moments like that in our business lives. We careen from one project to the next barely pausing to savor what we’ve done. Taking a moment DURING the project – that brief pause before we hit the coda – can make a huge difference. A breath before the daily roller coaster plunges forward, if you will. Silence in negotiating can change a dynamic and turn a deal around. Silence is a stillness that we all need at some point. The silence in music allows all the other dynamics to hit the listener more forcefully. The coda from The Dead always did the same. Maybe that moment in between is worth a try?