Jim and Anne – We Look Pleased with Ourselves

Here is a letter we recently received from a disappointed concert attendee:

“The popular songs that your group performed were done very well however half of the songs were unknown to most and while I’m sure they were performed well, that is not what I paid to see/hear. I can appreciate that you know so much trivia about John Denver but the show was not advertised as a documentary. We see two or three shows there each summer and drive over an hour to get there. I, as well as the others in my group left the (venue) disappointed for the first time ever.”

I probably don’t have to tell you, THAT kind of letter really grabs our attention!  As entertainers, we are essentially people-pleasers, and when we became entertainers we opened ourselves up to praise AND criticism.  Praise is easy (we ALL want that!) –  but with the praise, sometimes there is criticism  – and in these days of social platforms, both are given freely whether asked for or not.

The first thing we do is check back at the set list, There were 4 unknown songs in the entire 2 hour playlist of hit songs.….one because it was specifically written about the very place we were standing.  We explained that during the show. We thought it was cool, but apparently the complainer thought of this as part of our “documentary.”

The next thing we do is reply to the complainer.  This is hard.  We want to defend ourselves, we want to prove them wrong, make them feel bad for criticizing and we want them to understand the agony we go through trying to decide what everyone wants to hear out of a very large repertoire of excellent music. We want to send them copies of all the letters we received from people that LOVED the show – but in the end, all we could say to this person was “We are sorry you were disappointed” and in spite of all the praise we received from OTHER people who went to the exact same concert, this person’s comments will be a nagging reminder that, hard as we try, we can’t please everyone.  

In 1971, singer/songwriter Ricky Nelson performed at Madison Square Garden in what should have been the highlight of his career.  Instead, he was nearly booo’d off the stage by an audience that preferred to hear Ricky’s hit songs instead of the new songs he and his band wanted to present. Ricky was unnerved and cut his set short.  From this bad experience, Ricky wrote the song “Garden Party” which became his first US top 10 hit since 1963. 

Remember…. in this day and age, criticism is easy and it is encouraged by greedy retailers who’ve convinced us that the customer is always right.  It is also encouraged by social platforms that allow everyone to share their opinions freely (PS they also make a lot of money doing this).   Moving forward, we will always read, listen and reply to every comment we receive, and we will do our best to reply in a professional manner.  In the end though, for our own sanity, we remember these helpful quotes:

  • “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”  –  John Lydgate
  •  “The only taste of success some people will get is when they have a bite of you.”  –  Zig Ziglar
  •  “Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.” — Lao Tzu
  •  “You can’t please everyone, so you gotta please yourself.” – Ricky Nelson