There are great moments when a band is playing where the leaders role is to get out of the way so the back-up singers, drum solo, guitar lick or bass can really cut lose and take the whole thing up a notch. The spotlight shifts but the point is the music, not the spotlight. It also creates an environment where new leaders can emerge and new bands get formed.
We have to pay attention because sometimes the bass player may have a suggestion that would really make things work better with the singers and the lead guitar might be able to suggest a rhythm to the drummer that isn’t better than what she was playing but it takes the song up a notch. Taking the lead can be everything from suggesting a different key, to a different set or a different tempo.
Once I sang a song for the band and my friend who played lead guitar suggested I change some lyrics. This was the second song I’d ever written and I could not believe that he would suggest I change some of the words of MY song. But I tried it out and he was right, the words he suggested worked MUCH better and “my” song became a better song. Later on he recorded it and made it an even better song.
Another time we were trying out a new song that I’d written called, “My Desire”, and my friends on guitar and keyboard had the lead sheet and saw my name next to the title. The drummer didn’t. After we did the song once, Maurice, my drummer friend, said, “I think it’s supposed to go faster than that…” As if we rehearsed it, the other two guys at the same time said, “He wrote it, it’s his song.” My willingness to let others step up and take the lead did not diminish my authority as leader of the band in any way. Real authority only comes through relationship and it’s something that’s given, not something you can seize. Maurice played the tempo I’d originally set.
It’s a few years later now and I like to play it faster.