Lady Antebellum reminds us of necessary tradeoffs for success

image of new album Ocean from
Image of new album ‘Ocean’ from

Lady Antebellum’s new song, “What I’m Leaving For”, is a reminder of what we trade off, by necessity, in order to succeed. Listening to it for the first time I was reminded of demands my own work, and that of my husband, placed on us, and the feelings inspired when either of us had to be absent from the family. The video, replete with scenes from the band’s personal life, perfectly illustrates the push and pull of necessity. Once you’ve ‘adulted’, you quickly figure out that work is a necessity, not a luxury, regardless of what you do for a living.

Music is a hard business on any level. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a world famous trio or an up and coming musician. If you do it full time, you don’t have the luxury of turning down shows that aren’t convenient. The same goes for any profession, really. My husband worked in the corporate world, and I can’t count the times we changed plans or canceled them because work required it. He never complained and nor did I—this was the price of success that benefited all our family.

I experienced the push and pull as a freelancer. That profession is unforgiving. You don’t miss a deadline. You don’t alienate a good client. You don’t expect that client to adjust his or her needs based on your personal life. There were many times I had to travel, and I usually tried to only be gone as long as the task required. I can still remember sitting in the car as we backed out of the drive, with my daughters standing at the door, looking so wistful.

My older daughter Jennifer performs with Rebecca, and there have been some hilarious moments related to Jennifer starting a family. When she was pregnant with her first child, Jennifer never missed a beat. A venue in Atlanta offered Rebecca a great opportunity for a date a few weeks before Jen’s daughter was due. I don’t usually go off on my kids now that they’re not kids, but that was one time I definitely got, as my husband calls it, sideways. They turned the date down.

I’d done the same when I was pregnant with Jennifer. I was offered my first book contract by a regional publisher. I really wanted to write the book, but it would’ve required a lot of travel. It would be two decades before a publisher offered me a book deal—a book of my own as opposed to anthologies and textbooks already carrying my work. I still don’t regret my decision.

Every parent will experience this—the tradeoff required to take care of those you took responsibility for. I like that Lady Antebellum is focusing on this aspect of work, and I don’t think it matters what your profession is. We all, at some point in time, will make that tradeoff.

Lady Antebellum’s Dave Haywood summed things up for Nash Country Daily:

“I wore out the demo for this song,” says Lady A’s Dave Haywood. “I immediately related to it. It’s so hard stepping away from your family the way we do, and that song is such a great, beautiful way of articulating what we’re out here doing this for—our families, and those that we love and the fans that love us, too. This song is a beautiful picture of that push and pull of our journey.”

The video for the song is charming as most are if small cuddly kids are involved. The message is a good one at a time when the nuclear family struggles against all manner of social forces. Hat tip to Lady Antebellum.

The song, “What I’m Leaving For”, is one of the titles included on the band’s new album Ocean.

(Kay B. Day/Oct. 25, 2019)

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