Bruce Watson (of Foreigner), Ego Death & Craft Beer
I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Bruce Watson pre-Covid at a Foreigner show, and let me tell you, he is one of the coolest human beings on the planet. I'm empathic and intuitive, which means that I pick up on people's energy when around them. This is not always a good thing when the person is angry, sad, or frustrated because I can feel these emotions just as I do the more positive ones. However, when I met Bruce Watson and shook his hand, my laidback nature chilled even more. I swear that my heart rate decreased by several beats and my breathing became slower and deeper. The man just oozes genuine, grounded coolness. I could have joyfully basked in that zen energy all day.
Before joining Foreigner, Watson was a session musician who played with the likes of BB King, Rod Stewart, and Elton John. He fell in love with music at the age of 10 after hearing Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Born on the Bayou," and found his passion playing the guitar when he played his first six-string to a church audience. The guitarist studied business administration at the University of Southern California and his first job out of college was as a bank teller; guaranteed that bank has never had a cooler employee in their entire history.
Another cool fact about Foreigner's guitarist is that he's a Cicerone Certified Beer Server who is into craft beers. In fact, pre-Covid, he hosted VIB (Very Important Beer) meet-and-greets during which he enjoyed pints with fans.
Watson left the recording studio for the road when Foreigner asked him to substitute for Mick Jones (due to illness), and his commitment evolved from playing a few shows to playing for several months, and then touring with the band the remainder of the year. After that, he became a permanent fixture.
Bandmate Jeff Pilson describes Watson as "a very happy guy" who has been "nothing but a godsend to this band." Here's a very astute observation that Pilson gleaned about Watson as recounted to Glide Magazine during an interview: "The difficult thing about his [Watson's] job is that when Mick is here, he [Watson] has to fill in and allow Mick his space and then when Mick is not here, he has to carry the whole show. How many guys can comfortably and believably do both? You can count them on one hand. He’s so capable of being the guy that carries the whole show and yet he’s so good at, when Mick is here, adding the right parts and staying out when he has to and doing the right thing; and that’s so difficult, it really is. When they say less is more that doesn’t mean that less comes easy. He’s just a phenomenal musician and he’s brought out a spirit about the whole thing that really helps sustain it, cause we work a lot and if we didn’t have things like that, it would be next to impossible to pull this off and stay sane.”
When I read this interview my thought was that Bruce Watson has a healthy ego, meaning that he's grounded and doesn't need to constantly have his ego fed by external validation. He's a-ok stepping back and allowing others to bask in the limelight. As Jeff Pilson noted, this isn't easy, especially since Mick Jones makes sporadic appearances with the band and is no longer there on a regular basis like Watson. Bruce Watson could very easily take the stand that he's the one who is performing during all of the shows these days, and therefore he deserves more attention than Jones, but this just isn't Watson's style. The guitarist sagely recognizes that he actually gains more by seeking less.
Speaking of ego, the Buddhists believe that our ego feeds our desires and greed, which ultimately leads to suffering. To eradicate the ego, we should practice non-attachment to things, people, and ideas. Buddhists also ascribe to the notion that nothing is truly real and permanent, and if we are able to accept this that our lives will incur far less hardship.
I used to have strong attachments to people, outcomes, and things, and I've learned to let these all go. Don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean that I'm living in a hut and sporting palm frond dresses. I do like a comfortable mattress and hot shower, but I no longer obsess about acquiring things. I could care less about keeping up with the Joneses, or the Smiths for that matter. In fact, I sold the majority of my belongings in 2020 and have been traveling (and thus living on the road) ever since. It has been one of the best experiences of my life to not have to maintain a home and garden, or to keep up with a bunch of stuff.
Like Watson, I've learned to cultivate happiness within me and no longer rely on external attachments to feel fulfilled. In terms of outcomes, I've learned to squash my expectations and allow the universe to take over, and this has helped me let go of ego. If something is meant for me, it will find me. This is why I don't internet date, stress about finances, or worry about the future because the right people walk into my life without me having to seek them out, money shows up in my bank account, and most days seem to go pretty smoothly in my world. Since I've learned this life lesson of letting go and to stop trying to control everything, my world has improved significantly and I no longer experience feelings of lack. This doesn't mean that I'm floating around with my head in the clouds while shirking my responsibilities, but the deep attachments to particular outcomes have vanished, and it's extremely liberating. You should try it. If anything, it brings a sense of peace and happiness.
Bruce Watson is one cool dude who has learned the valuable lesson of letting go of ego and thus is able to find happiness playing music despite with whom he's sharing the stage. And guaranteed you can find him appreciating life even more after his performances when he's enjoying a nice pint or two of craft beer.