There are 2 kinds of good bass players in this world. The first is the kind that amazes you with their musicianship and ability when they play.
It’s like they reach down in between their legs and ease the seat back so far they’re navigating from the third row seat, man.
You don’t hear the rhythm section so much as you FEEL it.
You experience the sensation of low-end exploding just after the kick drum compresses your chest cavity and it can take your breath away when it’s done right.
The second kind of bass player does exactly what the first does, but also looks so freaking cool when they do it they actually make you want to be a bass player. They make bass players look cooler than most front-men; you are just captivated watching them perform.
Meet Charlie Sanborn.
Charlie is the second kind of bass player.
I mean just look at how badass he looks when he assumes the position with his instrument.
Charlie is a true inspiration and one of my favorite people on this planet.
He is the consummate “Student of the game”, as it were, when it comes to the business of music.
His passion for playing, performing, and consistent improvement has elevated Charlie to the status of a sought after musician. He constantly tours making a living at what he loves to do.
He’s the guy that will fervently dissect an arrangement like Bob Daisley’s bass track on Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” gently divulging the double note that every bass player misses on that famous walk down because they really didn’t listen. I mean “gently” in the sense that he is empathetic towards his audience as if they would happen to be a bass player that, in fact, missed that note.
You wouldn’t feel like a moron after getting the memo from Charlie because there is no hidden agenda. He just loves to talk about, create, and play music.
He wants you to be better, too.
That’s all that comes across.
He’s unaffected, unpretentious, and genuine.
If you know me you can tell I’m leading up to something here, so stay with me. It’s going to knock you right upside your head, and I promise we all need this.
Charlie has one of those super attractive personalities. He’s smart, funny, interested, interesting, warm, inspiring, enthusiastic, and personable.
Have you ever met someone that you just LOVE talking to and you don’t really know why?
It’s like he never has a down day even though we all do, and I’m sure he must.
He never shows it.
I don’t think he has a negative bone in his body.
Kelly and Charlie played on a “one-off” gig up in St. Louis last year for a country artist we produce and I decided to ride along. St. Louis is a 6-hour ride from Nashville. The tour bus deal went logistically sideways at the last minute so the artist rented a couple cars for the band to ride up in.
While I’ve known him for years, I got to know Charlie much better on this trip. Of course, he insisted on driving up and back to Nashville. I sat shotgun and we had some spirited conversations about the new music business.
About what that means to up & coming artists and musicians.
About what it means to legacy artists.
Kelly and I were deep into developing the marketing division of Daredevil Production during this trip and we were discussing how appropriate marketing strategies could optimize TV exposure for an artist.
Charlie went on to explain an idea he had for a TV show that would fill the vacuum of a tastemaker position and essentially take the MTV “Total Request Live” idea to a whole new level. He intelligently broke down TRL and made an argument as to how that show was leaving money on the table. Then, of course, he further expounded on his idea to improve it.
I was entranced by his idea and I told him so.
The next day he sent me a business plan.
Charlie doesn’t mess around.
So just like you and I Charlie has his struggles. He didn’t just pop out of the womb with a bass guitar in his hand and hit the road (although you’d never know it).
He had to earn his positions through hard work, perseverance, dedication, and relationship building.
Something we all need to focus on, right?
Here’s the deal.
It’s a miracle Charlie’s alive.
His body is constantly failing him.
Over the years he has had multiple organ transplants including kidneys and his pancreas.
It’s not uncommon for something to fail in his body and he’ll spend long 4-8 month stretches at Vanderbilt Hospital attached to machines while he waits for a new organ.
One day you’ll be playing with him and the next he’ll disappear for 6 months.
He always posts a selfie on Facebook from the hospital with a quick blurb of his latest health challenge.
Always with a smile so you know where he is. It’s usually humorous.
I guess so you know he’s alive too.
I try to text him with support.
He is always appreciative.
I spoke with him about his health. He told me on the good days he feels “ok”.
On the bad days he feels sick and exhausted.
You could NEVER TELL, man, because he consistently keeps the same, positive demeanor.
Then he reappears at a local gig or backstage on a tour and it’s like nothing ever happened.
Here’s the latest selfie Charlie just posted.
After all the constant battling he’s already endured, they’re amputating both of his feet today.
He’ll be back, I’m confident of that.
I feel like a tool because yesterday morning I had the audacity to complain about my day.
You see, my tire blew out on the interstate which caused a 2 hour detour of my daily activities which was incredibly inconvenient. I couldn’t get a new tire because the stores were closed on Sunday. Sunday afternoon the Packers lost and I was pissed at their performance. I was upset that they probably threw away home field advantage throughout the playoffs with that loss.
Then, predictably, I had to spend money to rectify the situation today, which is Monday.
I’m an idiot.
How insignificant, huh?
My eyes at this moment are welling up with tears. Not from sadness, pity, empathy, or guilt…like they maybe should be.
They are welling up because I am overwhelmed with inspiration, hope, and gratitude for being blessed to know Charlie Sanborn.
I’m convinced he’s a living angel sent to me for the purposes of perspective.
Charlie has had to overcome all the hurdles and obstacles that every one of us must tolerate to become successful at our dream, which is enough to eradicate most people.
Charlie’s done all this on top of these incredible health issues.
Health issues that mean the dice are constantly tumbling as to whether he’ll be with us or not.
You’ll get no excuses from Charlie. Only well thought out business plans with innovative ideas on how to handle the challenges.
He never gives up.
I’m sure it’s how he thinks that gets him up every morning, it has to be.
I don’t have any problems.
Not any that I can’t overcome with a good attitude and hard work.
Whatever you think they are, these problems are only as big as you allow them to be.
I’m writing this to pay forward the inspiration I received from Charlie Sanborn.
I can’t wait to see what you come up with now.
If you want to send Charlie Sanborn some thoughts, inspiration, or spiritual support please do so, even though you don’t know him from a can of paint.
You can follow him on Twitter @
Stay in tune.
Like Charlie does.
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