“I’m With My Tribe” – audience singalong at ADDA 2014 Conference

Here’s a link to my performance at the 2014 ADDA Talent Show. Below are some notes about my process in getting there and various other ramblings. (It is a blog, after all!)

I’d sent out an early recording of the song to a handful of people I trust and I want to thank them for listening and giving me feedback. It was a really bad mix, but the point came across. My favorite comment came from Matt (I think): “this will really work well live”. ‘Nuff said.

How I Devised This  Year’s Show

Last year, I did my first performance at the ADDA 2013 Talent Show. I merged my “I Am Not Distracted…” performance with my song “Wonder Drug” and came up with something that worked pretty well.

I wanted to make it memorable, so I used my Halloween tie-dye body suit and my Five Miles More fedora as attention grabbers. It worked. Now, I can introduce myself as “the guy in the tie-dye tights” and people nod. Some of them take a step back but that’s OK.

Here’s a link if you’re interested: http://youtu.be/cj9fj8S7mBM?list=UUztsSmF64r24z0xwobAjN9w

This year, I set a more difficult task for myself: could I get the audience up on its feet and singing along with me? Actually, it wasn’t much of a risk – this is such a great group of people. I feel safe trying new things with them. And they didn’t let me down!

My Writing Process (in case you’re interested)

I started the process by coming up with a simple chorus. Something short, meaningful, and with a simple melody. “I feel alive, I’m with my Tribe” came up. I tried a dozen different melodies, tempos, and chord progressions and finally settled on one.

Then came the lyrics. I imagined myself on Friday night. We would have been at the end of the first full day of the conference. People would (hopefully!) be feeling those feelings I felt last year – “wow, I’m around people who ‘get’ me!” So, I put those things in the lyrics.

Then, guessing that some people might feel uncomfortable up and singing in a crowd, I added a last verse that acknowledge that.

Addition of the Executive Function Character

But, I didn’t want it to just be a song. So, I crafted a front end. I knew that I wanted to make reference to the tie-dye guy last year. It would be a chuckle to the folks who were in Detroit and a different kind of chuckle for new folks. (I like those multi-interpretative messages.) I also wanted to reflect a theme of the conference and make references to some of the sessions I’d been to.

That all came together when I saw how much emphasis was being put on the notions of “normal” and “abnormal”, or “knowing”, or “diversity”. I love these themes – they are what kept me in philosophy and theology and psychology.

So, I decided to go on stage as “Your Missing Executive Function” and explain that the EF is not really “missing” but it is “different”. That we don’t have to be “fixed” so we can be “normal”. That isn;t the goal at all.

The goal – and I heard this repeated in one way or another in many keynotes and sessions – is to be the most Authentic You that you can be. Shades of Kierkegaard and Gabriel Marcel! (See how I subtly work religion into there…?)

But, I had to recognize the pain and problems ADD/ADHD brings with it as well, so I had EF add some words of apology for the problems he brings with him.

Performing The Piece

I asked Dean Solden to introduced me as “a special appearance by your missing Executive Function”. That got a chuckle and I felt like I was on my way. My timing was sloppy at a couple of points, but by the time I got the song, it felt like things were going well.

Dean had invited several of the other performers to back him up vocally on the opening song “Medicate!” and I asked them to play percussion for me during “I’m With My Tribe”. They came on stage and were just great about it.

The Moment of Truth for me was “can I get them all to stand up?”

I was pretty sure that if they went with me that far, they would sing, so the Moment of Truth shifted from “will they sing?” to “will they stand up?” They did and things went great from there.

The Amazing Audience

What an amazing treat it is to be in front of a group like that. I think that any performer knows the audience is a huge part of the show. They can lift you up and keep you going or they can leave you high and dry, trying to figure out what you did wrong.

This audience is the most supportive and gracious I could imagine. And I really feel I owe it to them to put as much effort as I can in writing and polishing the material.

And if anyone reading this is considering jumping in next year and doing a piece at the Talent Show, I want to encourage you. Do it! Do it! Do it!


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