The Show Must Go On – Even With a Concussion

In the three decades I have been working as a jury/trial/litigation consultant, I have never missed attending a mock trial, focus group, or other research due to an injury or illness. Although I have been injured and sick (the latter, numerous times) on some research days, I have kept my health issues to myself. Instead of whining and complaining about the latest physical malady, I have always adopted an attitude that “the show must go on.” There are countless examples of rock and roll musicians and other entertainers who, despite their personal problems, perform their shows, due to contractual obligations and/or a desire not to disappoint their fans. One example was the late, and amazingly great, Paul Goddard, who was a co-founder and the long time bass player for the band Atlanta Rhythm Section. David and I, along with our friend, Diana, had the pleasure of seeing Atlanta Rhythm Section perform in a small venue near West Palm Beach, Florida. Paul Goddard was always one of my favorite bass players and I was thrilled he had re-joined the band after a long hiatus. He was the sole reason I wanted to go to the concert that night and, as always, his bass playing was extraordinary. After the show, I noticed him sitting outside, alone, smoking a cigarette. I asked David and Diana to excuse me while I went outside to speak to him and to tell him how much, as a bass player myself, I had always admired the tasty low end sound he brought to the group. He thanked me, then asked me how he sounded that night. I told him he sounded fantastic! He then leaned over to reveal a large bump on his head, while explaining he almost didn’t make it to the show because he had hit his head a few hours before and had been told he had a “minor” concussion. He came to the show because he realized he would feel worse by not being there due to his fans’ disappointment if he were absent. I was surprised, to say the least, but I quickly told him that, even if he was having the worst day of his life, as a bass player, he was a million times better than I will ever be on my best day! I wished him well, said goodbye, and for all of the years that have passed since our short meeting, I have thought about his professionalism and commitment to his job. Since then, when I am feeling sub par, I ask myself, “Would Paul Goddard miss this gig or would he show up, on time, and do the most excellent job he could do?” Indeed, the show must go on!

Even though we’ve heard Atlanta Rhythm Section’s music for many years, listening to their songs still amazes when one listens to Paul Goddard’s bass lines. The show now goes on without him (sadly, he passed away in 2014), and I am sure he is a hard act for his successors to follow. The last time we saw ARS, on the night Melissa mentioned, we thought Paul looked a bit uncomfortable. He played fine; that muscle memory was in high gear. But, he looked ill. Only after the show did we learn of his encounter with the lid of his trunk which slammed down on him when he was loading his gear for the show. He ended up at a hospital before the show we saw, and which was before the start of a classic rock cruise for the band. Advised to take it easy, he instead ensured the show(s) went on as scheduled. Such professionalism is always a reminder of how to ensure that job gets done. Having a plan B may be a part of one’s strategy to ensure the show goes on. Clearly, there are limits to playing through the pain, but when one is being counted on to perform a job, it is important to find a way to make it happen if it all possible. Check out Champagne Jam, Spooky, or Doraville, again, or for the first time, to hear Paul Goddard at his best.

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