One thing that was big in East Texas were formal dances. No exaggeration, there were no less than 9 formal dances… a year. In fact, the Senior Prom when I got there was INFORMAL just to be different than the others. There was enormous pressure to both go to the dances, and pressure to make it into a big thing – with flowers, dinner, etc… even in Junior High. I, of course, was not one to fall to pressure, and yet, I felt I needed to dip my toe into the social culture… and got a date for a dance in the fall. Dinner was a different proposition – and in the 8th grade, what was not just Efficient but appropriate?
My parents had grown up in mostly church situations, double dating, and in a group setting that focused more on fellowship and fun than romance. As such, they recommended that we gather a number of couples and go for Pizza after the dance to celebrate a fun evening. And it was Efficient – the group could carry the conversation when things might lag one on one. Others were taking their dates to very fancy restaurants, and while I wasn’t entirely sure this was a good idea, I found that a few other couples were interested in joining us, and before you know it, we had a van full that arrived at Pizza Hut (every town in Texas had at least one) at 11 to close it down.
Reuben Gosfield grew up with Ray in Philadelphia in an artistic and musical family. He moved with Ray and one other friend to West Virginia and is credited with naming the band… in a brainstorm while visiting the outhouse. He also changed his name to Lucky Oceans. He shared Ray’s vision for the band “I wanted to return to the roots of American country music,” he said. “I wanted to reinterpret country music. In 1969, country music entertainers and musicians were ashamed of their hillbilly and bluesy roots. They were watering down country music and making it like pop and middle-of-the-road music. This disturbed me. They called it ‘countrypolitan,’ and I didn’t like it.”
Asleep at the Wheel gradually evolved into an Efficient “seven-piece aggregation of hot-time crowd-pleasers. “The group performed an average of 250 live concerts per year for more than a decade, traveling literally millions of miles on a series of custom-made buses. Mainstream success may have eluded them, but the musicians found enthusiastic crowds wherever they played, especially in their home base of Austin, Texas. Eventually, Reuben would meet a photographer for the Boston Globe from Australia, and she would change the trajectory of his life. They married and he moved to Australia in 1980, bringing his music with him, but ending his formal role in the band he helped found, and moving on from his life long partner.
If there is ever a saying that Efficiently encapsulates a ton of wisdom for leadership, life, and just good hygiene, it is today’s song. Actually written by Ray, it is a saying that, for sure, any Texan knows, and the good ones try and live out in every context. “Dance with the one who brung you” is a celebration of the standards of partnership that have been my measuring stick since those days. If you respect the relationships that got you here, you need to make sure that people trust you will stick with them even when it may not be convenient.
In my work with leaders and teams, trust is a constant companion – present in good situations, and absent from those that are not working. Interviews consistently show this underlying human understanding of what support looks like – and when it is most needed is often when it is most difficult. And saying “Yes, I am with him/her” is not something that should be temporal with partners, as Ray captured so adroitly and Efficiently with his upbeat tune.
As we were getting seated at the Pizza Hut, lots of laughing and conversations were going on – recalling the night’s events, and the fun times we had had. Interestingly, of course, I had my eye on a different date, who I didn’t think I could even approach. Imagine my surprise when the door opened and she and her date came in… their earlier dinner had been “too tense” and they now wanted to focus on some fun. We expanded to include them, and the evening was an interesting lesson for me on many levels which I will share through the rest of the week.
Picking partners is always complicated… and once chosen, how do you decide how to be loyal to that person and your own decision? What terms would need to be stated to ensure people trust you will be there through the hard times? I would see partners whose word was worth… nothing… and those that you could take to the bank. Where are you on that measure? And, to whom would you demonstrate that loyalty? It may not be Efficient, but it is a sign of character – at least with Texans. Dance with the one that Brung Ya