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Happiness partners

by | Mar 24, 2021 | Happiness, partner, Van Morrison

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Who is around you when Happiness shows up?  Seems like an easy question – and yet, as we discussed yesterday, very few of us actually know what it is in the first place, so noticing partners who are there, particularly those that are consistently there, is not simple.  I am working with a leader who has made 3 career moves in the last 5 years, and his words “all were a disaster…. And my spouse said I should choose the other”.  We are of course talking about… wait for it… what should he do now… 

Happiness caused Van and his wife to move out of New York to Woodstock, but after the festival, Van said “Everybody and his uncle started showing up at the bus station, and that was the complete opposite of what it was supposed to be”.  His lease was up, and his wife was from Northern California, so westward they went to Marin County.  He had thoughts of a country-western album, and if you have ever driven across the country, you would see why… but he was under pressure to produce “hits” for Warner Brothers.  They wanted charting singles, and two albums a year… 

… there was a small problem of partners.  Specifically, all of the singers, and most of the musicians he knew were literally 3000 miles away… and he needed to find a band, producer, and record … FAST.  “When I went to the West Coast these people weren’t that available so I had to virtually put a completely new band together overnight to do [Tupelo Honey].  So it was a very tough period.  I didn’t want to change my band but if I wanted to get into the studio I had to ring up and get somebody.  That was the predicament I was in.”  He found a few “locals” – an unknown producer looking for his 2nd gig, Ted Templeman, a player as “other” – John McFee, and a session guitar player Ronnie Montrose.

Hopefully, those names mean something to you, but in case… Ted’s “first” production was the Doobie Brothers’ first album.  You might remember him also as the person who first recorded another Van – Van Halen.  John McFee was barely 20 – and “other” meant he played whatever they needed – slide guitar, mandolin, violin…  and would eventually join the Doobies after Ted made them famous also.  And Ronnie Montrose – the opening riff in this song is his, and nothing like you would eventually hear him – as the name behind Montrose, with an unknown midwesterner – Sammy Hagar – A sample of that music… much wilder than today’s offering. And this special version includes what the live recordings sounded like just past 3:30… 

In the studio, Van wanted to recreate the vibe from the church and New York, and emulate the “live” nature of what had happened in both settings.  Ted, new to production, let him do that, with no overdubs, everything recorded live.  As a result, he burned out 3 different engineers who actually knew better… but what remains is another amazing album, and another set of singles/hits that still define Van’s sound for most people.

I am finding it interesting that these posts about Happiness … aren’t.  It is really not my nature, or my bent to focus on negative things, but for some reason, as I dig more into the back story of Van, it brings up many of the lies we tell ourselves… well, at least I do.  The illusion that the next promotion, the next bank deposit, the next guitar (that hurts) will actually provide it.  And maybe it will, and maybe it won’t, and one thing that I am really learning from Van is that in the moment it is hard to tell. 

What makes a difference I have found are a couple of things.  First is perspective … and distance.  Getting people to work either way out or way back, you see things very differently… which I will talk more about tomorrow.  The second is that WHO you are with makes a big difference, both then, and later.  The partners around you can bring out your best … and worst… and both can be the key to Happiness.  In my life, I have been blessed with so many great partners that when I think in either direction, it is always much more of a question of “who” not “what”. 

You may be interested that after more than a year of doing this, I am thinking about what to do differently, and if you read the last paragraph, you will not be surprised that just yesterday I had a meeting with a group of partners – the “who” – that are much more important to me than the actual “what” we produce. Like you, my partners in this crazy process of realizing we can do something different about our world, our lives, …. ourselves.  It really is that simple… and not easy.  Happiness is in the partners that can share your Wild Night. (queue Ronnie… and his amazing lead break) 

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