|One thing is certain: if you decide to become involved with a musician, good luck. Musicians have strange habits, like composing music in the middle of the night, practicing “forever” or becoming moody because a compositional mental block has occurred. Musicians don’t mean to be as difficult as they are to other humans. It’s just the result of having “melodic, creativity genes” in the DNA. On the other side is the person who loves the musician. Sometimes the person is great; he/she’s someone who truly understands the artist. Then there are some who have no idea what is going on the musician’s head and doesn’t want to understand. Therein lay the problem of the significant other, who wants the musician to decide who comes first, the music or him/her.
First of all, when the musician was born, the significant other wasn’t there. The gift of music was… It’s selfish to expect a man or woman to work on his/her craft “every now and then” and give 99% of the rest of the time to a lover. Musicians marry musicians, but it doesn’t always work out. Sometimes the competition between the two, especially if they play the same instrument, finds a way to divide them. Luckily, this hasn’t happened for some couples, but it does happen. Then again, a musician shouldn’t be so full of him/herself that the other person is seen as an object, someone to enjoy every now and then and cast away as if they were trash. They are humans, too…
So how do you find a balance between yourselves? Who knows! It depends on the persons involved. You’re either going to want the relationship or you won’t. There have been hundreds of stories of musicians who have written music for someone loved as much as someone seen as “the old ball and chain”. I’ll be honest here: if I have to decide between someone and my music, my music is going to win – every time. My musical life has been with me as long as I can remember. I can’t see myself giving it up for a “mortal”. I know; that sounds terrible, but it’s true! I might as well sign myself into an asylum. There’s a commercial for a food product where the woman asks the man to decide between the food and her. He says to her, “You’re still here?” My words exactly!
By now you may be wondering whether I’ve ever had a relationship with a non-musician or a musician. Well, I can tell you that yes, I was married to a bassist and no, it didn’t work out. It wasn’t one of those marriages where we were married in one week and divorced the following week, either. I’ve put my time in! People used to ask me about having kids and I’d tell them that my “music is my kid”. It is… Not all men and women were put on earth to have children; we have “what we do”, whether we’re musicians, actors, doctors – whatever. In spite of things, my ex and I are able to communicate and there is no pent-up anger between us. Will I be “walking down the aisle of doom” (matrimony) again? At this point in time, I seriously doubt it. However, I must say that if I did, I probably wouldn’t marry a musician! One “nut” is all that a marriage needs!
Another form of the significant other occurs among musicians. “Marriages” are formed, especially in the case of bands that have been together for a long time. They have their separate lives, to be sure, but there is still a type of camaraderie that is very loving and at times almost spiritual. The members may have their disagreements, but if there is love among them, things pull back together, like marriages where the partners separate and reunite. Sometimes you can play with musicians for so long, after a while you can “feel” them and know their thoughts. On stage you may be accompanying someone and play what the other musician was thinking, sometimes even before he/she arrives at that thought. Years ago, I recorded a CD with a group of musicians. We recorded the music at one of the member’s homes. Because the house was old and had high ceilings, we had to close off the rooms to one another. I couldn’t see the others but I could feel their thoughts. We had been playing together for a few years, so we knew each other well. The recording came out wonderful.
In these days of stocks and money, it’s hard for musicians to stay together like the way bands used to do. It’s even harder for the men and women who love musicians. They have to look at everything from the outside. To all of you who have been able to endure a life with a musician, I salute you. Some musicians are lucky enough to be born into wealth, so the significant other doesn’t have much to worry about financially. However, there are thousands of men and women who just get by, suffering right along with the artist. I have even more admiration for those people. I say that because these men and women have “been there” for musicians, feeling the artist’s pain or enduring their setbacks. They aren’t there just to enjoy the achievements and lavish themselves with the money the artist earns. Love is what keeps them with the musician, not vanity. It takes a lot of mental strength to deal with someone who has a mind that hears tone colors, rhythmic patterns, orchestral passages or rock music, mainstream jazz, fusion, etc.! But if a significant other can be unselfish enough to grow artistically with a musician, that person will be taken to a different world. Granted, there are “worlds”. A person can sometimes go too far into a musician’s abusive life if he/she is of that ilk that enjoys self-destruction. That’s where a person has to have the courage to walk out if everything else has failed and the artist just doesn’t give a damn. Cutting your life short is just not worth it. On the other hand, there are great numbers of musicians who have not allowed their art to be driven to hell from abuse. The partners of these artists are able to love and enjoy watching “their musicians” grow to levels once thought insurmountable.
So there you have it. You can either be supportable or someone the artist would like to dump – forever. To all of you men and women who love music and the musicians in your lives who play it, stay as loving as you’ve always been to them. We musicians need you more than you think…
BY Kim Michele LaCoste
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