Thursday, February 24, 2005


In light of all the online tutorials I've been seeing, I thought I would draw on my experience and offer up the following (light-hearted) tutorial:
How To Be A Musician's Wife
Those in same gender relationships, please adjust pronouns, etc, as required. :)
1. Be eccentric enough to serve as a muse for your husband's writing, but not so strange that you end up having him write a song with your name in it. If your name appears in the song it is the kiss of death for your relationship. Just take a moment to consider Billy Bob Thornton singing "Angelina". Luckily, my name isn't easy to rhyme. A love song can be about you or for you or whatever, but should never, ever, include your name.
2. Allow the band to practice in your basement. Plan evenings out when this is going on: Use it as an excuse to go to the movies, or Chapters, or pick up groceries. If, however, you don't go out and are, instead, at home for the majority of their practice time this will allow you to achieve number 3, which is:
3. Know all the words to his songs. It doesn't mean you have to be able to sing them. You just need to know them in case he has a rotten memory and forgets them himself. That way you can write crib notes before he goes on stage. Yes, this really does happen. It happens to my husband and it even happened to David Bowie - I have that on good authority.
4. Be nice to the band members. I have been known to bake brownies (no, not hash brownies) or vegan snacking cake on the night of band practice. This lulls them into a false sense of security and makes it more effective when I holler down the basement stairs to remind them that the unwritten neighbourhood policy states that band practices must end at 10:30pm (I happily thank my neighbour for having a drumming son).
5. Go to all the shows. There are several reasons for doing this:
a. Crowd Report: This allows you to scan the crowd, count people and see their reaction to the band. You can report later to your husband who can't see all the smiling, dancing people from the brightly lit stage. The crowd count is important to band morale (and to collecting their "door" money).
b. Work the Merch Table: Even though you may have a regular 9-5 job with benefits like dental and medical, working the merch table is the ultimate sacrifice. Merch tables are often tucked in horrible corners. You end up talking to music geeks (yay) and giving bathroom directions to a jock who doesn't really like bands he can't blare on his stereos while driving his shiny penis, er, car around downtown, and who is only there because of the girl he sees as hot because he's had a few too many wobbly pops.
c. Fend off the skanks: Yup, even at indy pop shows, the skanks come out in force. They arrive because of the wobbly pop-drinking jock with the shiny car, er, penis. They stay because they caught sight of the token cute band guy. They will dance with their drink held in the air. This method of dancing is not necessarily to avoid spilling one's drink, ('cause those chicks are spillin' everywhere), but it is to lift their tiny shirts a little bit higher. When the skanks get too close to the stage, or seem to be making googlie eyes at anyone in the band (you must protect the entire unit - one rotten skank spoils the whole bunch), grab the nearest firehose and shoot her with a steady stream of high pressure water until she's pinned to the back wall of the club, gasping and sputtering with mascara running down her shocked face. Or something like that. Use whatever method is appropriate for the location and for the level of club security.
6. Be a Roadie: Only do this when the band is playing in town. Help them load gear into the club. This gets you off the hook for working the merch table later that night. Suggest to other band members that someone else's girlfriend or wife or the best friend of the band should work the merch table.
7. Be supportive of their touring: Touring gets them out of your basement for weeks at a time. It allows you to have quiet time at home. It allows you to have the car all to yourself. A word to the wise: No matter how cool it may seem, do not go on tour with the band. No one likes a Yoko (with apologies to the Ono-Lennon family and progeny - tell me that kid is not in therapy!). If you desperately want to see them on tour, plan to meet up with them in a big city for one gig, but you should not be expecting the band to feed you or to drag your ass around. Get your own accommodations and transportation. *ahem*
8. Believe in his talent: Hopefully he's got some talent. If he sings like that guy from American Idol, you know which one I mean (Oh baby, she moves!), then you are only doing him a favour and saving yourself from a lifetime of headaches by telling him to get a day job. On the other hand, if you are there for him when he can't write a note, much less a jingle to save his life or pay the mortgage, then he'll be there for you when you decide to leave the job with dental and medical. Standard husband and wife rules apply to musical families too.
Ok, so, he's a musician and he might not remember to put the toilet seat down, he might not be proactive with housework, and he might even be cultivating the current indy musician look (read - hasn't had haircut in months and has questionable fashion sense), but he's your partner. For life. For better or worse. And if you're nice to him and do ok at mastering 1 thru 8 then maybe he will write a song about you (sans your name) but he'll definitely put your name in the liner notes. If you're really lucky, you'll live happily ever after... with a soundtrack.


  1. "No one likes a Yoko"!!!! Heeheeheeh......So I take it your guy doesn't look like Mr. H? Laughing again!!!

  2. Hi Steph! You should include a link to your guy's band for those of us who like indie AND knitting.

  3. Anonymous10:33 a.m.

    Snork. I am a bad musicians wife. One night (after I had defended my then boyfriend from skanks, thanks for the firehose tip) I was carrying a stupidly heavy amp up the stairs of a club to the van. (Which I was going to drive). The bass player was walking behind me and said "Hey Steph, what do you call a musicians girlfriend?" I looked at him, (God I love "Musicians girlfriend" jokes) and said "I dunno dude. What do you call a musicians girlfriend". He looked at me, smiled, and said
    I put down the amp.


  4. I can check off many of those, but, in its current incarnation, the band is not playing out. When it has, I have gone. I used to attend practice regularly (someone else provides the basement), now I stay put and ask how it went when he gets home, commiserating when necessary.

  5. losmills4:40 p.m.

    I'm not a muscician's partner. I just loved your post. It really brightened my morning.

  6. First visit to your blog. It was sent to me because I'm a musician's wife. Great list!

  7. Anonymous11:19 a.m.

    Remind me to buy the band wives drinks next time I go to a show.


  8. wow steph you are becoming so cool and I am becoming so tired.... good thing i don't have abnd husband. Nexy someone should do some rules for being a film husband... AHEM.... I know he won't see this - actually I should make the rules and put them on the fridge for him to see...