Chris Uggen's Blog: work-family balance

Sunday, April 12, 2009

work-family balance

today's strib offered a fine story on partnered musicians such as adam and sarah young of cloud cult, shown at left awaiting the tour bus in front of their minneapolis home.

as elsewhere, female labor force participation has risen among touring bands. and at least some of the parents are now bringing the kids to coachella. think about it: relative to the average nine-to-fiver, these parents get to spend a lot of time with their kids.

when i was a feature writer in the skinny-tie era, i didn't see many kids backstage. i once asked a musician about a song called tape my wife to the ceiling, which i assumed expressed some kink way beyond my comprehension. instead, he told me it was about wishing that everything at home could stay exactly as it is, while the band was doing the road thing -- after the tour, he just wanted to remove the tape, take the family down from the ceiling, and resume the good life he'd left. he knew the idea was ridiculous (hence the title), but mid-sized bands had few other good options for traveling with their families at the time. a decade or so later, alan and mimi (and superstars with greater resources, i'm sure) made family inclusiveness a pre-condition for touring.

it will take a generation or so to determine whether road life is actually good for kids, but i don't think they're suffering. if one judges by low and cloud cult, the music doesn't suffer either.


At 1:23 AM, Blogger newsocprof said...

i went to see beck a few months ago -- the music was good but the best part was that little beck was watching at stage right at the beginning of the show, wearing VERY large headphones to protect his ears and mom was in the background as well. i remember thinking this was cool, though i have no idea if they travel together outside of the LA shows.

my sense of things relative to very little kids is that quality time is bunk and quantity matters a lot, so i'd be in favor of little ones on the road... though i also think that all of that time on a bus with a little person would definitely suck.

At 5:41 PM, Blogger christopher uggen said...

i agree, nsp. there's a bit in coleman's foundations about the long-term trend toward separating home and workplace -- e.g., the rising proportion of men working outside the home in the past couple hundred years. on balance, it might be less traumatic to grow up in a touring musician's home than that of a butcher, undertaker, minister, sociologist...


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