The Grammy Awards ceremonies resemble all-star games in sports: they assemble dream teams.
Individual performers are plucked from familiar groups and settings and genres. They are recombined in unfamiliar, sometimes unexpected ways, at least for a moment of performance.
These are experiments. Some disappoint. Some fail. Some are magical. A few can be historic.
Daft Punk’s “robot men” won best album honors, as well as best single for their smash hit, “Get Lucky.”
It’s fitting that this memorable new track appeared in a video series, “The Collaborators.”
Collaborator-in-Chief Paul McCartney
Sir Paul McCartney received a well-earned lifetime achievement award for his extraordinary contributions spanning more than half a century.
It was, actually, his second lifetime achievement Grammy. The first was for his solo work. This one was for his work within the Beatles.
That’s fitting, because one of McCartney’s evident gifts is his capacity to collaborate. Examples include:
—his collaboration with John Lennon, and with George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Analyzed closely, these can be seen as a series of distinct collaborations, in various combinations.
—the Beatles’ collaboration with producer George Martin. Martin’s improbable possession of experience and knowledge of classical music and popular culture added immense value, along with his own capacity to collaborate with the Beatles.
—the Beatles constantly imported a range of influences into their own music. From the Isley Brothers to Little Richard to Elvis Presley to Buddy Holly to the Beach Boys to Bob Dylan, the list goes on and on. The Beatles’ debt to Motown is acknowledged and foundational. So, too, Motown’s debt to the Beatles is significant. It’s fitting in so many ways that Motown: The Musical is the sponsor of the major 50th commemorative event of the Beatles’ American debut on the Ed Sullivan Show.
—the Beatles were strikingly generous in collaborating with other groups. Examples include songs shared with other performers, such as Peter & Gordon, the Rolling Stones, Badfinger, and Mary Hopkin.
—the Beatles strove to break the boundaries separating various artistic endeavors. They embraced film in A Hard Day’s Night and Help! They were pioneers in the evolution of music videos. They individually experimented in related areas during the period of the group’s greatest productivity. Examples include John Lennon’s appearance in How I Won the War, and his book of word play, In His Own Write. George Harrison sought to bring in Indian influences. Paul McCartney was inspired by Magritte to conceive the Apple brand.
—they founded Apple, in part to give artistic and financial support to promising and avant-garde artists.
McCartney’s long and winding road of collaboration was honored throughout the 2014 Grammy event. On one side was his performance with the other surviving former member of the Beatles, Ringo Starr. On the other, was his collaboration with Nirvana, yielding a song that earned yet another recognition for composition.
Collaboration and Creation
Everything we see confirms our shared experience: effective individuals and enterprises are parts of ecosystems of achievement and encouragement and competition and sharing and daring.
Such influential ecosystems can be created. It can begin with one’s selection of friends. It can include where one lives. It can include what one views online. It can include what one reads from history. It can include all the influences that one allows into one’s life and work.
As McCartney exemplifies, if one has a growth mindset, one’s quest for collaboration never ends. And the creativity arises anew, on and on and on, an endlessly renewable resource…..
What About You?
In art as in life, creativity is being supercharged in the 21st century by rising opportunities to collaborate with more and more people, at deeper and deeper levels.
Are you collaborating effectively in your life and work?
Have you inventoried with whom and how you collaborate?
Are you taking full advantage of the extraordinary range of opportunities to collaborate in the 21st century?
Are there ways in which your collaborations can be extended into new realms of service?
How can you scale your skills and gifts and calling to better serve more people, through wider and deeper collaboration?
Have you acknowledged your debts of honor to those whose influence has been, in effect, a vital collaboration? This might include people whose work you’ve studied and emulated and incorporated into your work. The Beatles’ acknowledgment of their debts to many other artists has prompted further opportunities for collaboration on an ongoing basis, to this very day.
Are you collaborating with your customers? The further you can serve them, the more they, too, can become collaborators in ever-greater enterprises. That collaboration can open one’s heart and mind to possibilities that no individual could conceivably conjure on their own.
Could it be that effective service is, ultimately, a collaboration?
Is effective collaboration best comprehended as service to others?
Collaboration is How We All Get Lucky