Well, I guess we’ve all had them; those moments when things seem to just inexplicably “fall apart” while we’re onstage, for whatever reason, but even though it’s rare, there sometimes seem to be external forces at work that somehow manage to defy the logics of the Universe!
There was one time that was so pronounced and amazing that to this day, none of us who were involved will ever be able to explain it logically, nor will we ever forget it, that’s for sure!
It was the one and only tour I ever did with John Prine, and in fact, the first and last time he ever toured with a bona fide band. We were in the middle of what must’ve been our 30th show of quite a long and arduous tour, and although the band was not nearly to my liking, most everything we did came off without a hitch. We were in the middle of the show, and we were playing one of our usual songs (the show rarely changed at all!) and we were just cruising along….all of a sudden, not one of us fell apart and didn’t know what we were doing, but ALL of us, at exactly the same moment, completely, and I mean, completely fell apart! It was as if some outside force had taken over, and wanted to sabotage that song! The breakdown was so severe, that we actually had to stop playing entirely, and once we were truly in a state of shock, I yelled out “top of the bridge, 1, 2, 3, 4!”, and then we were on the right track again!
It was so funny that we forever named and referred to the incident as the “train wreck”, and it was one of those mysterious moments that truly NOBODY had any explanation for! Looking back on it now, some 35 years later, I still hold that it was a weak moment in the song that we all collectively didn’t know that well, and therefore, we each had the belief that at that precise moment, we each expected “the other guy” to pick up for our lack of knowledge at that instance! Well, it was so crazy to hear five musicians fall apart all at once at the same time, that it’s something not only that I’ll never forget, but it’s something I bring up many times when teaching or telling stories as just an amazing example of just plain crazy and wacky musical circumstances! It wasn’t even as if one of us continued doing the right thing; it was a total and collective “meltdown!”
Hard to really know what the true lesson and point of all this is, besides being a funny story and recollection I can tell you, but all I can say is I hope a “collapse” like that will never happen for you onstage! I guess the one saving grace of it was it wasn’t any one person who messed up, it was everybody at the same time, so we all shared the blame!! Truly incredible, and I don’t think I’ll ever see that one again! (and I hope you never do in the first place!)