Safe at Home

It’s HR Carnival time, and a really interesting experiment. Dwane Lay is hosting, and he’s given us one title – Safe at Home – which we all have to use. Can’t wait to read the range and variety of blogs…here’s mine!

Safe at Home was the debut album from International Submarine Band, released in 1968. It was their one and only album.

Who?? I hear you say.

How about Gram Parsons? Ah, now there’s some recognition.

International Submarine Band was a group that Gram Parsons formed in 1966. They worked though 1967 on their debut album, Safe at Home. It was recorded and a release date was set in early 1968, but before the release, Parsons left.

Headhunted by The Byrds.

Now if you were a highly talented, pioneering folk/country rock artist in 1967 there was really only one gig in town. The Byrds! And when they came calling, Parsons joined…and immediately started recording a new album with them (Sweetheart of the Rodeo).

Legal wrangling ensued, the remaining ISB members tried to stop Parsons’ vocals appearing on the new Byrds album, whilst their own album remained unreleased. Eventually a deal was struck…Parsons’ vocals only appeared on three tracks on Sweetheart of the Rodeo, and Safe at Home was released.

The Byrds album is seen as a landmark in country rock and ISB’s flopped (though music revisionism being what it is, Safe at Home is now regarded as a cult classic and the first real country rock album).

Parsons left The Byrds after only one album to form The Flying Burrito Brothers after which he pursued a (very sadly) short lived but highly influential solo career.

A 43 year old story of squabbling rock musicians, giving us three timeless insights into talent management…

  1. The best talent will always be on the radar of other, higher profile employers, and will often want the opportunity to prove themselves on a bigger stage.
  2. If your best talent goes, make it as amicable as possible. There really is little to be gained from legal action, restraint clauses and bad feeling. What they contributed whilst they were with you should stand on its own merits and not be sullied by bitterness.
  3. The best creative talent is usually restless and mercurial, and you never know when they may cross your path again.

I’m sure you’d prefer your business to be a successful landmark rather than wait 30 years to be a cult classic!


3 thoughts on “Safe at Home

  1. Thanks Mervyn, this is a piece of music history j previously knew nothing about, I will have a wander about on iTunes and learn a little more. Your three observations are lovely, I’ve always enjoyed helping people to be the best they can, and a lot of that is knowing when to encourage them to learn and develop elsewhere. Great people usually achieve great from the contributions and time invested in them by many others. I think we all have a responsibility to encourage ourselves and others to be better and your three pointers can be part of a useful guide. Top post!

  2. Good post Mervyn. Your link to talent management applies not only to the workplace, but also to the coaching I do with several youth hockey teams. I always tell the boys, “you never know when someone you’re competing against today will be your line mate tomorrow.” It’s always best to keep things positive, and for the door to remain open. Case in point – I welcome back “alumni” each month as we rehire them to our organization.

  3. A great story, Mervyn. My “music industry” experience in the pubs around London is of similar experiences – the bands finally are sounding good, finally are getting followers and on the brink of something good and then arguments result in breaking up. Maybe that is why I switched to HR – also I don’t think I could enjoy singing the same song every day for 20 or 30 years.
    Really enjoyed your post.

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