Brain teasers invite you; in contrast, brain embarrassers are songs listeners can’t get a handle on readily enough, causing them to give up and move on to another song. That contrast is but one of the many fine distinctions Mike Errico makes in this engaging, whimsical-and-yet-serious book about the art of crafting music. This episode spans a range from what constitutes a mission song (which lay out the story of the artist, e.g. Bruce Springsteen’s wanderlust), to what kind of flavor gets created depending on whether the melody starts on, before, or after the downbeat. Let’s take as Mike does some famous Beatles songs as a point of reference. Melodies that start on the downbeat feel authoritative (“Yesterday”). Melodies that start before the downbeat feel urgent, with the singer taking control (“She Loves You”). And those that follow the downbeat feel conversational (“All You Need Is Love”). Want to know about the Four Quadrants of Trust? That’s another reason to give this episode a listen.
Mike Errico is a New York-based record artist, writer, and lecturing professor at universities including Yale, Wesleyan, and NYU. Besides international touring, Mike has had his opinions and insights appear in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, and elsewhere.
Sick of the frequent images of entrepreneurs as machismo, take-no-prisoner, Rambo-like action figures? Look no farther than this episode, in which Christine Kane admits that conquering bulimia was the test that gave her the fortitude to first enter the music industry on her own terms, and then help thousands of (often female) fans become entrepreneurs themselves. The key to Kane’s approach is acknowledging that the soul part of business is ultimately more important than focusing on strategy because, as an entrepreneur, your values inform your value proposition and how it gets enacted.
Maybe it’s because Kane has been a musician herself that I find her story connecting to a part of how I spent my Thanksgiving weekend: watching the Beatles’ documentary Get Back. In it the “quiet” Beatle, George Harrison, has a hard time getting Paul McCartney to show him respect. Two suggestions to add his song “All Things Must Pass” to the repertoire draw no acknowledgment, let alone endorsement from McCartney—even though that song and “Let It Be” are thematically of a piece. Even worse from Harrison’s perspective, McCartney all but dismisses the Harrison-inspired visit the band made to India, causing Harrison to visibly wince. How fitting that at the end of Part 1 of the 3-part series, Harrison’s “Isn’t It a Pity” (how we cause each other pain) plays as the credits roll.
Christine Kane is the founder of Uplevel You, a multimillion-dollar business coaching company, which evolved from her 15-year career as a touring singer-songwriter with her own record label. Both businesses were built without any investors.
This week’s podcast is about a bluegrass band that bucked the odds. While the average band is lucky to last 10 years together, with 2-3 years the average, the McClain family band sustained itself for 18 years and toured 62 countries. What was the key to their group chemistry? Mutual respect, and the right ratio of positive to negative interactions. Drawing on a half-century of analyzing the characteristics of loving, stable marriages, John Gottmann and his colleagues at the Love Lab have concluded that a 5:1 ratio of positive/negative interactions is the key to a good marriage. And an in-depth study of work teams at EDS (Ross Perot’s old company) took that ratio even higher. That study found that high-performance teams had a 5.6 positive/negative ratio versus a 0.4 ratio for low-performance teams.
Paul O. Jenkins is the university librarian at Franklin Pierce University and also the author of Richard Dyer-Bennet: The Last Minstrel and Teaching the Beatles.
This episode covers a band that defies expectations. Formed in 1968, this band ran counter to the era twice over. First, they were intergenerational with their dad a key figure despite the slogan “don’t trust anybody over 30” being common then. Second, while the then two-year-old National Organization for Women (NOW) could only boast of 1,035 members across America, the McClain family band had two women playing prominent roles. The episode explores how bluegrass music varies from country music, and how musically inventive the group was. Finally, comparisons to the Beatles close out the episode.