“They Pulled Me Up To Their Level”

7 11 2011

I’m a big fan of the late Dan Fogelberg.  When I was younger, Dan had a string of hits, among them “Longer” and “Leader of the Band”—my personal favorite.  I loved his well-crafted lyrics, his multi-instrumental versatility and his quest for excellence when he hit the studio and the stage.

When Dan was an art student at the University of Illinois, he played coffee houses and bars at night.  While doing so, he was discovered by a local booking agent, Irving Azoff.  Azoff managed to get Dan a record deal and eventually sent him to Nashville to prepare to record his debut album Home Free.

During this time in Nashville, Dan was able to get a lot of work playing sessions as a studio musician.  Years later he reflected on his time as a young studio musician playing with older, established session guys, “I was only 21 years old and I was part of the band, these maniacs who were amazingly good players. These guys were much better than me, and they pulled me up to their level.”

Numerous times over the past five years, I have played guitar in the pit band of local musical theatre productions for some great shows, among them “Crazy For You” and “Damn Yankees”.  These kinds of gigs force me to grow as a musician.  Broadway musicals are often fast-paced, with many numbers in cut (2/4) time.  The music is always challenging and sophisticated so it gives one’s sight-reading quite a workout.  I remember one Gershwin overture in particular, four minutes long, which contained over one hundred different chords.  It’s not easy work and sometimes quite stressful.  But I grow.  My colleagues and the music itself pull me up to another level.

What kinds of environments do you regularly put yourself in that challenge you and help you grow?  That pull you up to a higher level?

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4 responses

8 11 2011
C.R. Mooney

I read Ray Bradbury. His writing inspires me.

8 11 2011
Christian Fahey

Very cool, Moon. I know you’ve read some of his stuff over and over again. He’s a remarkable writer evidently!

9 11 2011
C.R. Mooney

Or I’m in a rut, lol

9 11 2011
Christian Fahey

Nah…you’re just a very busy man with a family that needs your attention. 🙂

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