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Ask the Rock Doc: 
Dr. BLT offers advice for a song to music-minded youth and adults in crisis. 

Dear Dr. BLT: 

We don't know what to do about our guitar player. He is undoubtedly a talented and hard-working picker. He has tons of gear. He practices hours and hours every week and he is a nice guy. The problem is he another cover band that he's fronted for some time and now they're practicing every week, like we've done all along (they used to just once a month). They never gig, yet practice with them is taking more and more of his time, energy and focus away from our band. I'm sure they hope something will happen with them, but really they're a living room band and probably always will be. 

Our band, on the other hand, is getting out and playing. We could possibly get on the road and have some fun. How do I gently suggest to my friend he should ditch his other band and commit to ours? We have much more of a future and to be honest, I feel like it isn't fair to us. I don't want to offend him, and I'm sure part of it is 1) he enjoys that music (shudder); and 2) he has friends in that band too and doesn't want to abandon them. But meanwhile, his playing is suffering, he's tired, and we're all wondering about his commitment to our band. What do we do? --Puzzled Punk-rocker. 
Dear Puzzled Punk-rocker: 

In one of his big hits, right after he found Christ, Bob Dylan said it better than Freud ever could have:  “You’ve got to stand for somethin’, or your gonna fall for anything!”  I understand your hesitation, but by not standing up to your guitar player, you continue to fall for his flimsy excuses for two-timing on the band.  Now this is not a marriage, however, there are some distinct similarities between a marriage and being committed to a band.  Very few musicians are able to be musically promiscuous and successful at the same time.  At least it’s not drugs, but another band that is competing for his attention. 

Your situation can be worked out within the context of a democratic meeting of the musical minds.  Democracy, when it is working, is based on unity and equality.  Each band member, in a display of democratic loyalty, must be in tune with the needs of fellow band members, as individuals, as well as the needs of the band as a whole.  It’s all for one and one for all! 

While anarchy on the part of your guitar player may have contributed your problem, democracy without leadership won’t solve the problem either.  Someone has to take the initiative, or your band will remain stuck. 

Now that our entire culture has become dysfunctional, we are all assigned sick roles as children. Perhaps you were assigned the role of pacifier in your family of origin.  Perhaps you have been trying to please everyone, all the time, ever since.  Most people fear confrontation because they worry that it will lead to being abandoned and rejected by the person they need to confront.  In this case, you also run the risk of losing a great guitar player (not to mention, access to all of his fancy sound gear!)  

I believe youhe’s probably a very nice guy.  But I would recommend arresting your pacifying behavior and taking charge of a situation that has taken charge of you. Your guitar player will respect you for letting your expectations be known and for establishing boundaries within the band.  I would suggest confronting him as a group, so that it doesn’t all fall on your shoulders.  Surround yourself with your other band mates and elicit their support throughout the entire process.  As you confront him, draw upon your gifts of compassion and empathy.  These are beautiful gifts that reflect the image of God in you. But you must not allow the compassion and empathy to sway you in your resolve to stand firm and steadfast.  Draw upon the wisdom of simple songs--songs like the Bob Dylan’s “You Gotta Stand for Somethin’”. Songs like that R.E.M. classic, “Stand!” Songs like Guess Who legend Burton Cummings’s classic, “Stand Tall!” and Eric Clapton’s “I Can’t Stand it No More.” Take a stand now, but don’t stand alone.  Make it a band-stand! 

E-mail letters to Dr. BLT at

Dr. BLT, aka Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, is a Christ-centered licensed clinical psychologist and university instructor who specializes in the psychology of modern music.  He uses his original songs as well as those of other artists to address the problems of his patients, including his biggest, sickest, most challenging patient--society.

His face and name recognition, particularly with teens, comes from his short part on a long Cake music video--the Cake video for “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” that earned the band a nomination for Ground Breaking Music Video of the Year on the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards. 



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