Published August 1, 2020
Part 5 in our series called The Day the Music Died, featuring tales from people across the music industry sharing how the pandemic has affected them, their art and their life’s work.
In this week’s edition, Larry Lee—Springfield, Missouri-based singer-songwriter and founding member of The Ozark Mountain Daredevils—is our teller of tales of music and pandemia. Larry pays homage to the long and fruitful run he has had with the muse of his calling, while mourning the loss of live music for fans and artists alike—particularly the legions of performers who were just coming into their own when this apocalyptic year put a halt to their hopes and dreams for an unknown period of time.
Larry Lee | Photo courtesy of Larry Lee
Music and Muse
I’m fortunate to have actually had a 50-plus-year career living from the making of music. Not an easy thing to do, and not one without my share of hard times. So in this age of COVID-19 my situation is very different than many here in my local music scene who are younger than me.
The hard part for me now is coming to terms with having to let go of my muse …
For the past several years I’ve been pretty much playing music just for the fun of it, not needing to feed and clothe myself solely from live gigs. The revenue made from a handful of house concerts and small venue events has not been the point, the music has been. The hard part for me now is coming to terms with having to let go of my muse and the music that is being left behind, the music still unplayed and unheard, not to mention missing those shared times with my bandmates.
Beyond Reach in rehearsal. L-R: David Wilson, Randle Chowning, Larry Lee | Staff Photo
I’m not going to cry in my beer because the few dates I had on the books for 2020 have all been canceled; I can survive. If tears are to be shed, it is for the ones still coming into their own, still honing their craft and whose passion has, up until recently, revolved around the music they’ve been making. It is those for whom I feel, and here is why.
… with local musicians and songwriters, there is a feeling of loss and disorientation …
From my vantage point, and from what I’ve absorbed from conversations with local musicians and songwriters, there is a feeling of loss and disorientation, combined with a feeling of fear for what the future will bring. That fear is justified. I believe that for the foreseeable future live music is going to be a very different experience from what we’ve all come to be familiar with. It’s looking like the house concerts and small venues they’ve relied on for making a living are going to be the last to comfortably come back around, and even as they do, they are going to feel very different.
How long will some fans, patrons, staff and performers feel uncomfortable in close proximity to one another? How long will being unsure of who might have “it” cause you pause? Or will the possibility of someone contacting “it” because they came to hear your music weigh on your conscience? The question is: when will live music be live again?
Long, Strange Trip
As far as virtual concerts go, for me as a performer, they would seem to be a somewhat shallow experience because of the lack of eye contact and that physical social interaction that happens between performer and audience.
Though the future looks grim right now for all of our music endeavors, I’ve always said to never say “never.” But as a songwriter and performer I personally am saddened to think that because of this COVID-19 and its effects on gatherings, that my time for playing live may be running out. If that is the case I must say it’s been a wonderful ride, but one that is being ended too soon.
It’s been a wonderful ride, but one that is being ended too soon.
Photo by Jim Mayfield by permission of Larry Lee
Singer-songwriter and performing and recording artist from Springfield, Missouri, Larry Lee is a founding member of The Ozark Mountain Daredevils, a nationally recognized band in the early days of the country rock movement of the 70s. He wrote "Jackie Blue" for the Daredevils, which reached number 3 in ’75. Larry has spent a lifetime in music, including 23 years in Nashville where he recorded and toured with Jimmy Buffet. He also was a Nashville producer, producing 13 number 1 hits for Alabama alone. He was performing and writing with The HigLeeWils—an Ozarks-based trio composed of him, Emily Higgins and David Wilson—when the pandemic canceled their schedule.
To learn more about Larry and his life in music as well as to view his outstanding nature photography, go here: https://larrymichaellee.com/
For three songs written by Larry for Beyond Reach—with Lee and Randle Chowning, also a founding member of The Ozark Mountain Daredevils, go here: https://larrymichaellee.com/with-beyond-reach
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