I started playing the guitar when I was 11. At the time, learning how to play the riff from “Satisfaction” or “Day Tripper” felt like a big deal. A few years later, along came Jimi Hendrix, and what I thought of as playing lead guitar changed completely. Sure, Clapton was still my idol (I mean, the “Crossroads” solo on Wheels Of Fire. Has it ever been better?) but Hendrix opened my ears to the possibilities the instrument contained.
I played guitar in bands through middle school, high school, and college. I was rarely alone in my room without a guitar in my hands. I couldn’t really emulate the Claptons and Hendrixs of the world but at least I understood what they were doing. Then, in February of 1978, along came Eddie.
With the release of “Eruption,” Eddie Van Halen redefined the guitar. It’s the solo that changed guitar forever and blew the minds of anyone who ever picked up the instrument with serious intent. In 102 seconds, I realized that I knew absolutely nothing about something I’d been playing for over a dozen years. How was he doing that? It was so far beyond even what Hendrix had done.
What amazed me the most wasn’t just his use of a technique I’d never seen before. It was how grounded in musicality his playing was. Beautiful arpeggios that just soared. Yes, as I came to find out, others had been using the techniques Eddie was using, but what made Eddie’s playing stand out was how despite the feedback and squeals, it was very musical. You might not have known that Eddie learned music early on and won a piano competition. He learned Bach and Mozart and not just Lennon and McCartney. There’s a business point there.
Too many of us jump into business thinking that we’re going to change everything. There’s nothing wrong with that. But learn from Eddie, who really did change everything. Before he did so, he was grounded in the fundamentals. He studied the masters. He learned to play Clapton note for note and mixed up Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Hendrix. He melodized, perfected, and popularized the techniques he learned from them and from others. Oh – and he always seemed to be having fun while he was doing his job.
We can learn a lot more from Eddie than just how to handle a fretboard and even if you’re not a fan. I’m sorry he’s gone. You?
I received a very disappointing email yesterday. I mean, in the scheme of the global crisis we’re facing, it’s a nit but it was disappointing nevertheless. It came from Ticketmaster letting me know that one of the shows to which I had tickets was being canceled. I’ve had several postponed already but this one was now completely off the board. Boo.
The show was Journey and the opening act was The Pretenders. Now before you comment on my musical taste being stuck somewhere in the late 1980s, let me say that I saw Journey a year or so ago (with Def Leppard) and it was a phenomenal show. I’ve not seen The Pretenders in probably close to 30 years and being able to hear them live again was a huge bonus. Maybe next summer.
It did get me thinking about a Journey song, however, that I think is a good reminder to us all these days. It’s called “Be Good To Yourself” and it starts out describing a situation many of us might be in as we’re staying home and trying to work (or find work) as best we can:
Running out of self-control
Getting close to an overload
Up against a no-win situation
Here’s the video – I picked one that features Steve Perry singing and check out Randy Jackson’s haircut!
The song reminds us to be good to ourselves. I forget to do that sometimes and maybe you do too. Maybe you put a lot of pressure on yourself to be as productive as you were before all of this. That’s crazy talk. No one should expect themselves to be superhuman and deliver the same 100% rate of output during a global pandemic and a lockdown.
We all have worries during this time. Maybe it’s a fear of getting sick. Maybe it’s even more real than that prospect because you’ve lost your job and are depleting your savings. Maybe your health insurance is ending because you’re unemployed. When we have issues that lie at the base of Maslow’s hierarchy, there is no question that we put pressure on ourselves to solve the problem. You feel overwhelmed by a lack of control. I get it and I’m not minimizing it.
But you still need to take some time each day and be good to yourself. You didn’t create this situation. You’re not to blame. That can be taking the time you now have to walk each day and clear your head. Maybe you make a list of the things you really enjoy and do one every day. Maybe you call a friend to whom you’ve not spoken in a while. The key is not to beat yourself up over the situation. Negative self-talk just digs a deeper hole.
So I’ll shut up and let you think about how you’ll be good to yourself today. OK?
I came up with today’s Foodie Friday topic this past week as I was dining out. Which of course leads to The Grateful Dead. If any of you are Deadheads, one thing you know is that when the band was on and in full flight they were magnificent. They could take you with them as they soared musically. Unfortunately, the odds of that happening on any given night were not close to 100%.
It’s the thing that frustrates most of us who listened to The Dead. You could go to a show never knowing if you were going to walk away uplifted or disappointed. The experience was inconsistent. They were the musical personification of the old Mother Goose nursery rhyme:
There was a little girl who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead;
When she was good, she was very, very good,
And when she was bad she was horrid.
OK, back to food. I took a little mini-vacation this week to an island just off the North Carolina coast. It was lovely but because it is a relatively small island, there are limited dining options. One of these options was a place that serves Mexican food. The first time I dined there I had a lovely skirt steak but what struck me was how good the accompanying rice and black beans were. The beans were perfectly textured with a little smokiness coming from a piece of smoked pork tossed in the pot. The rice was billowy. I made it a point to return on another night.
The second night I dined there, the beans were bland and tough, as was the rice. In fact, the rice had a crunch to it, not like the lovely socarrat that forms in paella but from being undercooked and raw. Everything from the drinks to the entrees seems to have been tossed together with a minimum of care and thought.
It reminded me that one thing we need in business is consistency. Whether we’re serving food or figures, customers need to know that they can count on our product meeting a high standard each and every time. Employees and our team need to know that everyone is treated fairly and using the same standards. Unlike The Dead or this restaurant, we can’t miss the mark as often as we hit it. The only times we miss the standards we set should be those occasions when we move those standards up a notch. Make sense?