If you’ve seen me play a solo show in the last month or two there is a good chance you’ve seen my 7 year old son join me on stage to sing my song “Roll On.” One day I was sitting in my living room playing it and I heard him singing along. So I played it again a little quieter and heard, much to my surprise, that he was singing every word. And it’s got a lot of words. So some time later I asked if he’d like to sing it with me on stage. Again, to my surprise, he said yes. No hint of stage fright. Not then or any day since. And I would wager that we’ve done that song together for a crowd maybe 20 times between then and now and we have a great time.
Most of the response has been great, but some of it has rubbed me wrong. A number of people, cynically, sarcastically, or even in a laudatory way have commented about what a “smart move” it is. Apparently people think it helps sell records (it doesn’t) and that is why I’m doing it (it’s not).
To the first point let me just tell you plainly here and now that it has not increased record sales. I never wondered if it would, but if you had asked I would’ve put money on no. Maybe I’m an idiot, but sometimes the idiot is right and this was one of those times.
To the second point, obviously increased album sales are not why I do it. I do it for the same reasons I do almost everything I do. Because I want to. I’ve spent the better part of my life just doing what I want and then reacting to the reaction. And when I say “the better part” I don’t mean “most.” I mean that when I go with my gut my life is usually better than when I don’t. I was doing this because it seemed fun, and I expected people would see it that way. So when people saw it as a ploy of some kind, my first reaction was to stop.
But then I checked with my gut. I’m having fun. My son is having fun. A lot of people seem to enjoy watching us have fun.
Then I looked around at the world. I saw plumbers, mechanics, painters, lawyers, doctors, and everyone in between in “the family business.” Well, music is my business I suppose. It’s how I make my living and if my son is interested in getting in to the family business then I might as well get him on stage right away, same as I would if I were passing along a passion for anything else. I don’t think all those fathers in history that taught their sons how to do what they did were in it for the money, and I know I’m not.
I love being a dad. It is my favorite thing I get to be. I also love music. Why it never occurred to me in the last 7 years to combine the two is beyond me, but thank goodness my son had the idea. Because it has brought new levels of joy to two areas of life that I was positive could not possibly contain any more joy.
So shelve your cynicism for 3 minutes and enjoy watching a father and son completely lost in the joy of their relationship with each other and in their love of music. You might like it.