As I watched Neil Young in Berlin (1982) this morning before work, I got thinking about morale. Here was Neil Young and his band of misfits up on stage, singing his songs to Germans. But this wasn’t just any old Neil Young concert. This was 1982 Neil Young. Some of the songs had that familiar Rust Never Sleeps grunge thing going on. There were a few acoustic tunes. But the highlight for me was Neil Young and his band performing songs from his late 1982 album Trans. If you haven’t heard the album yet (you probably haven’t), it’s half acoustic/jangly pop songs and half early 80’s computer Neil Young singing like a vocoder sounding like a robot songs. And it is amazing.
It got me thinking. Trans was never really popular as a record. People didn’t get why Neil Young now sounded like a robot. I can just imagine how these songs went over live. “I PAID GOOD MONEY TO HEAR NEIL YOUNG SING, NOT A FRICKIN’ ROBOT”. How in the world did Neil Young get this group together and convince them that this tour was a good idea? There had to be some hesitation in deciding to join in with Neil and go out on the road to sing songs that weren’t really popular. Neil had to be a leader and step it up and build up the morale of the dudes joining him on tour, and from the looks of the video above, their morale was up.
Listen to the sound of the band. They’re locked in together. They ain’t some sloppy bar band playing up on the stage. They’re a cohesive unit that’s getting this robotic music across to the audience. Look at guitarist Nils Lofgren. He’s dancing around the stage, aiding Young in sounding like a robot, and enjoying every moment of it.
What am I trying to get at? I guess what I’m trying to say is that building up the morale of your team comes from leadership. When it’s there, the impossible can happen. When it’s not there, your team slides into a muck of lethargy and depression.
Thank you Neil Young, for teaching me about leadership today.