Last night I had the immense privilege of seeing Mumford & Sons play at the Santa Barbara Bowl. It was a tremendous show. I am, admittedly, an incredibly late arrival to the Mumford & Sons bandwagon, but nonetheless I’ve grown to really appreciate their music in the past several months.
It’s pretty funny to think that one of the hottest acts in music today is four guys from London whose live show features such instruments as the banjo, accordian, upright bass, horn, trumpet, and trombone. They played everything from their album Sigh No More and played several new songs, which the crowd seemed to love.
Throughout the night the band seemed genuinely grateful for the crowd’s enthusiasm and support. They almost seemed a little bit surprised. At one point, in between songs, the keyboard player told the crowd, “Our first gig on the west coast was at a club in Los Angeles in front of about twenty people.”
Then he shrugged and said something that I thought was pretty funny.
“It’s the same songs.”
A few years ago those songs were being played for an audience that could be fed with a couple of pizzas. Last night they played at a 4000+ seat venue that sold out the show in about fifteen minutes.
I can’t entirely put my finger on why I was so struck by that comment.
Maybe it’s the reminder that sometimes great things take time to develop. Maybe it’s the reminder that sometimes great things need to be developed over a long period of time, even if it is just “the same songs”.
I guess on some level I was struck by his comment because we live in such a society of instant gratification. I am often mortified as I consider my own lack of patience, let alone my lack of persistence.
I think it’s easy to be lulled out of a willingness to work hard at something over a long period of time by stories, whether real or made up, of overnight success, or by perceptions we can have that somehow successful people achieved their success without having to put in hours and hours and months and months “playing in front of 20 people in L.A.”
The reality, of course, is that achieving things that matter is rarely that easy.
I don’t believe there is a short cut to being a good parent or being good at relating to people or being good at a profession, regardless of what that profession is. Certainly a degree of natural acumen helps in all of those things, but more than anything, success requires commitment, hard work, and a willingness to dedicate oneself towards excellence.
In between all of the amazing music, I was grateful for that reminder from Mumford & Sons last night. May we find our “songs”, and dedicate ourselves to the hard work of playing them well.