Pete Townshend of The Who once did an interview in which he explained the drama, infighting, and eventual break-up of successful bands. As individuals evolve personally and professionally they often have increasingly less in common with the friends of their youth. Members of a successful band are expected to collaborate with friends in adulthood on a shared wavelength that, in many cases, hasn’t existed since high school. It would be unnatural if these collaborations didn’t occasionally end badly.
I’ve never been mistaken for a rockstar. Although, I once took the mic in a townie bar and helped a local band “bring it home” (said help was not solicited). And in my early twenties I knew a guy that knew a guy whose cousin was friends with a dude that once smoked a marijuana cigarette. Inhaled and everything, I understand. Shameful.
When the majority of us reference rockstar, we are likely talking about energy drinks or a quality parking spot. But whether you rip ice cold guitar solos for The Who or type away in the florescent wonderland of the Corporate America cube farm, everyone can relate to the changing dynamic of friendships with age and evolution. The older the friendship, the more complicated the dynamic.
When you live in the area you grew up, your strongest friendships remain relatively consistent. The life experiences are similar. The music evolves and the tour schedule changes, but the band stays together. Moving across the country in search of new and different opportunities feels kind of like leaving the band to work on a solo album. People question your motives and talk about how you’ve changed, but it’s not ego or Yoko, it’s the natural distance between an individual on their 15th and 30th birthdays.
Every trip to my hometown has shed increasing light on how far my old friends and I have grown apart from one another. I have spent many long drives after weddings and holidays reflecting with my wife about the growing disconnect. No ill will, no hurt feelings, just rapidly decreasing common ground. Like a band pleasantly reuniting for public appearances, but never breaching the topic of picking up instruments or getting back in the studio.
What has been especially amazing about fatherhood are the unintended benefits. The way you view everything in life is shaped indirectly by the way you view yourself. When you become a father and do the requisite soul searching, you begin to analyze all your relationships a little differently, including old friendships.
We recently spent the weekend with one of my lifelong friends and his wife. When 30 year old guys have been friends for 25 years, they’ve been through some ups and downs. The phrase “like a brother” is generally overused, but it is appropriate in this case. There have been hugs, shoves, shit-talking, and heartfelt praise. The phrase “like a brother” is only appropriate if you love someone, but have, on more than five occasions, wanted to wring their fucking neck.
The fact that our friends are expecting their first child made the visit especially unique. I expected the weekend to be fun. What I didn’t expect was for us to meet each other for the first time. It turns out Gabe’s Dad and the Father-to-be have a hell of a lot in common, and not just that we think Dwayne Wade is a poser.
Fatherhood has the ability to motivate a man to actively demand the best of himself. In a weird way, I think our best qualities are the same we display as children, before things like greed, jealousy, and Captain Morgan come into our lives and turn us into adults.
After a great weekend with friends, I am excited to see what the future holds for some of the relationships I had begun to consider strictly in past tense.
We may never collaborate on a new album, but I will treasure the jam sessions.