image
image
image


AN INTROSPECTIVE ON LOSS
image

Slater & Shellans performed live only once, and from my perspective it was fairly disastrous. Not that the audience noticed (because they were pretty well blitzed) but I sure as hell did. Bill was not on his game that night and his ego, or nerves, overtook his better judgment.

We were playing at a fundraiser for the local affiliate of the now-defunct Air America radio network, so we knew the crowd would be rabidly anti-Bush. Although he and I specifically agreed before the concert that he would not politicize his comments, he came out of the gate making slams against the administration. Worse still, Bill didn’t use any charts and screwed up our “flagship” song, but thankfully the professional horns I’d hired were able to cover his gaff. The final offense came at the end of the night, when Bill – supposedly in jest – insulted my performance. My confidence as a singer and rock performer was minimal at best at that point in my life and since I was already embarrassed at the show we’d just given, it was like being kicked when I was down.

For several days after our performance, I stressed to Bill more than once that he and I had to be able to perform as a duo first and foremost, without the safety net of a band around us. I told him it was vital that we hone our live skills: anyone can make a product perfect in a studio since you have the luxury of multiple takes, but performing live is where the magic happens. Bill didn't seem interested. In fact, he mentioned wanting to immediately return to the studio to begin work on a third collaborative CD - when he wasn't making much of an effort to promote the first two.

I must have complained one too many times about the performance – and maybe I struck a nerve when I honestly told Bill his “joking” insult had crossed the line – because he abruptly advised via e-mail that he was moving on. Slater & Shellans was dead.

Thankfully, time has a way of putting things in perspective. While we were working together, I had thought our partnership was based on friendship first, with our musical interests coming second. I slowly came to realize that it was the other way around. After all, Bill did bluntly admit once that in me he’d “finally found someone to pay half of the production costs” so that he could record his songs. Once I realized I hadn’t lost a friend but simply a business relationship (and a superficial one at that), I was able to put Slater & Shellans in perspective.

Coming to terms with loss in any form is difficult, whether it's personal or professional. But I harbor no resentment, and genuinely wish Bill well. That’s why I sincerely hope some day he escapes the cult of Prem Rawat. If he ever allows himself some honest reflection on our lone performance, perhaps he'll come to understand my perspective, and regret his unkindness toward me.

I hope that happens.

Ultimately the experience was a positive one for me. If I hadn’t spent 2+ years working with Slater, I wouldn't recognize how much less stressful it is to play with other musicians, or realize how valuble genuine friendships are, or understand the importance of true spiritual enlightenment, or appreciate how lucky I am to have a spouse who doesn't simply tolerate my passion for music but wholeheartedly supports and encourages it.

So it’s really true that everything that happens, happens for a reason. As Bill wrote in that brilliant song:

“Sometimes some things just go wrong
So something better can come along.”


image


Listen to a variety of Mike's compositions


image
image
image