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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

Behold The Birth Of Unorganized Hancock

I get all sorts of credit for these sorts of things but I don’t deserve it. Laissez faire. To let to do. Forget economics, it’s education that needs it. If you let them, they will do it. But one does guide. Show. Help. Encourage.

My neighbor is a very good teacher. He wrote a book about education. I’ve read it several times now, because he gave me a big box of draft copies, hundreds and hundreds of foolscap pages. He didn’t give them to me to read; I crumble them up and start fires with them — but I read the pages as I go. An old habit. He would tell the kids to write whatever they would and could, and he’d edit their work, suggestions, really, kindly offered, and give them back and they’d have at it again. Not much of the kids’ work was very good, but it was all a lot better at the end than at the beginning. That’s teaching.

The Heir painstakingly taught himself to sing and play, and assembled some local friends and got them a gig in the park last year. One kid didn’t show up, so the Heir had to sing all the songs, but they made plenty of noise for just three guys. The audience made them play everything twice. They were in all the local papers. Then the other kids got together without the Heir and decided they didn’t want to play the songs my son wanted to play. They wanted to play parts of Aerosmith songs in their mother’s basement instead. That was the end of that.

So the heir assembled some other friends, and painstakingly taught them how to play the songs. They didn’t know how to play — or even own — their own instruments. Eventually they had a gig at the recreation center in a neighboring town. They did great, drew a little crowd, made a little money, and were noticed, and so were offered a chance to play in the the high school gym for a charity event. The Heir sang all the songs, and supplied all the equipment, such as it it. They were in all the local papers again. They were offered a job at the big fireworks show downtown on July 4th.

Then the bass player showed up and said he was going to play the guitar instead. He didn’t know how to play the guitar, but the Heir could show him, surely. By July. He’d got to talking to his friends and the drummer that played parts of Aerosmith songs was going to re-join.

But we have a drummer, the Heir says because he is loyal.

Well, the drummer doesn’t want to play the drums anymore; I asked him, and he doesn’t own any, anyway, and he’s going to play the keyboard instead. And my other friend is going to play the keyboard and sing, too. Between the two of them, they can probably play enough keyboard to sound like something. He doesn’t really sing, but how hard can it be, really? I’ve also invited the guy that didn’t show up for the first gig in the park to be a singer, too, and all of them together can sing parts of an Aerosmith song well enough. I guess. They never tried. And the bass player from the first band that never played again even once wants to be in this one now. Anyway, we don’t want to play those songs you like. You know, the ones the audience wants to hear.

But we have a job in a few months people are relying on us, the Heir says. We need to practice with the three of us, as hard as we can, or we’ll never be able to play for two hours in July.

But this is a democracy says the bass player.(er… former bass player, current guitar owner) Just because you sing all the songs and we practice at your house, and you teach us all the parts on all the instruments, and we use your equipment and your father brings it all to the job in his truck and your mother feeds us doesn’t mean you’re in charge. We voted. If you don’t like it, you’re out.

The Spare Heir is barely nine, and has been playing the drums for a few months now. I know Time magazine says he should still be breastfeeding, but we decided to let him play the drums instead. He said: I will play the drums with you, my brother.

Children get an education whether they know it’s an education or not. All these kids are learning lessons about all sorts of things, most only tangentially related to the music they think they’re learning. I used to work, for hard money, sometimes with and for very hard people, in the music business, but I could never have dreamed up this very useful curriculum in what the music business is like. Laissez faire.

The Heir is still friends with his friends, of course. There was no malice in any of it. The others never got together, even once, but the bass player with the borrowed bass said the drummer bought a third bass drum. Which is nice.

14 Responses

  1. You know, I think your heir is going to live – heck, is already living – a truly extraordinary life.

    One thing I learned growing up, and learned well, is that when you say you're going to do something, you stick it out and as much as possible, make it worthwhile. Even if you're not the very best at what you do, the fact that you showed up at all counts for, I dunno, 80% of success. Showing up with a smile and putting your heart into it will land you the other 30%.

    Of course conversely, the sad part of that observation is that an awful lot of people are all talk, most of the time…

  2. The Heir shows possibilities and the intention to work on them. His "friends", not much. Perhaps they will see the error of their ways. If not, their loss.

    You must be semi-demi-hemi-secretly proud of him.

  3. Julie: …80% of success. Showing up with a smile and putting your heart into it will land you the other 30%.

    And, it does take 110% if something is at all worthwhile, and you even somewhat succeed at it.

  4. I'm not big on the word, and of course I didn't find it even one time in your story here, but I definitely can hear it reverberating in the air like a perfect last chord. Your heir just said to his friends: Whatever.

  5. Well, if he stays interested in making music, he'll experience any number of variations on this theme. Good Luck!! Oh and it's worth it.

    The problem I most often saw back in my music scene days were band members who always let the perfect be enemy to the good, the "good" often other band members. Something else he has to look forward to!!

  6. How does your heart keep from bursting with pride? Heir-the-younger has already mastered playing the drums with others- wow!

    As always, thank you for sharing your children with us.

  7. "I will play the drums with you, my brother."

    My room must be very dusty at the moment, something in my eyes.

  8. Your son has commendable patience, more than I ever did. I've been a bassist for 35 years, and in my time have been uncharitable toward some musicians.

  9. The heir has a love for music. His friends do not, as shown by all the Aersosmith music they made after the band split up. Different interests.

    The drummer also did well.

  10. It's always a joy to watch people do something they love, and those boys were doing it.

    Thank you and them.

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