A post from our very own Lee Jefford:
A few years ago I was playing guitar in a pop/rock covers band. Not everything was what I would have wanted to play but nevertheless I was happy to be playing music with other people. We had approx 15-20 gigs a year which suited me down to the ground. Everything was going great until a particular song suggestion changed my whole outlook on the band. At the time I raised my suspicions about the song, however, the rest of the band were happy to play it which I could not argue with. Immediately I had lost my enthusiasm for playing in the band, not for being outnumbered but because I simply did not want to play that particular track. The song in itself wasn't overly offensive to my lug-holes, however, my internal embarras-o-meter kicked into overdrive. I was even embarrassed to learn the song at home.
Was this my internal music snob taking over? Am I going to let one song force me to choose a different direction or is this just paving the way for more function-friendly songs which I could not face. I wasn't in the band to make money, nor was I in it for the women (I was!). I really just wanted to play guitar and the songs that I enjoy playing. The problem is, not everybody wants to hear the songs I love to play. But why? They're great songs! Instead it just seems the public want to be able to kick off their shoes and dance around their handbags to Brown Eyed Girl. But I am the first to admit, my hypocritical side comes out here. When I'm out, 99% of the time I love nothing more than to hear a song I know and love played by a live band, rather than hearing a drawn-out original composition about the mourning of the singer's dead goldfish.
You often find there's a direct correlation between audience enjoyment and the popularity of the songs played. Often guitar players like music that can be deemed 'self-indulgent' by many other non guitar-playing musicians. So do you play for the crowd, or do you play for yourself? What will lead you to gaining more satisfaction from the guitar? A rip roaring 12-minute blues solo (rip-roaring in my head anyway!?) to a sea of unamused, ungrateful punters who have paid to hear a selection of toe-tappers, or the Grease Mega-Mix to a large room of smiling faces?
I know what I chose. Do I regret it? Perhaps. I think I might have to dust off my 'Pink Ladys' bomber jacket.