Home Music Lyrics Videos Free Ringtones Guitar Solos Classical Guitar About Nemo Photos Contact Nemo

Leader of the Band

From the Album Just a Few Seconds

I played for the leader of the band
Reading factory dots with a guitar in my hand
Playing factory tunes
That couldn’t end too soon
Being paid in factory grains of sand

Just a menial job and nothing more
The only thing that mattered was the floor
When challenges are few
There’s nothing left to do
But hand your life over to the score

The leader of the band, he’s just a businessman
With a gift for selling what he doesn’t own
Waving arms around not connected to the sound
Only those who play will understand
What it is to be the leader of the band

Day after day we made the treadwheel turn
On endless motorways, the engine burned
Not remembering what we’d seen
Or where we had just been
Or what lessons we had left to learn

What happened to the young man I once was
Who answered every question with because
I heard the piper call
And acted like a fool
When I played the tune, forgetting who was boss.


For years, I worked as a freelance musician working with big bands in functions and backing cabaret artists. The bandleader would stand at the front waving his arms around, and the audience always assumed that the reason the band sounded so good was down to the bandleader, which in most cases couldn’t be further from the truth. They are businessmen. They hire the musicians, and most of them use off-the-shelf arrangements meaning that most big bands sound the same. They appoint one of the musicians as musical director and put them in charge. The first thing you learn as a band member is not to follow the bandleader. A lot of them became bandleaders because they were not good enough to find work as musicians. I worked for one bandleader who played the piano, and he got so drunk one night we had to turn his amplifier off.
It is common for a bandleader to not even be at a gig and some will put out three or four bands on the same night in their name. You might splash out and hire the famous Joe Bloggs Big Band for your daughter’s wedding, only to find out that Joe Bloggs is fifty miles away doing another gig.

I know I sound bitter, but I am really not. I just want to set the record straight. Someone has to get the gigs, pay for a PA system and roadie, and book the musicians, although some bandleaders don’t even do that. Like any businessman, bandleaders should be rewarded for their risk and organisational ability. If I do harbour any bitterness, it is towards the banqueting managers and agents who take such huge slices from the booking fee for doing virtually nothing.

I must finish by saying I am sure there are many bandleaders that are great musicians, although I never worked for any of them.