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Go your own way

On a recent visit with family in Nashville, we toured the Music City, drove past gigantic homes owned by country music greats George Jones, Dolly Parton and honeybuns Faith Hill and Tim McGraw.

We saw landmarks, such as the famed Bluebird Cafe where Vince Gill got his start (and Garth Brooks signed his record deal).

But the most stirring musical moment of the trip came via the television when my uncle slipped Fleetwood Mac's 1997 live concert disc The Dance into the DVD player.

The song was Silver Springs.

Aunt Shirley leaned into the TV with a mischievous grin. "Watch this," she told us. "You're not going to believe it."

We watched as Stevie Nicks sang lyrics aimed at her ex-lover and bandmate standing beside her, Lindsey Buckingham, all about a new love of his. Then she lowers the boom with a musical curse:

I'll follow you down til' the sound

of my voice will haunt you

You'll never get away from the sound

of the woman that loves you

Nicks erupts. She turns to Buckingham, screaming: "You'll never get away, never get away!"

We paused the DVD, and all exhaled. Wow. How long ago did those two break up?

Can you imagine being in a band with someone who broke your heart? Going through that kind of emotion, singing songs about each other? Reliving the agony? Stevie and Lindsey split in 1977, and she still looked furious after 20 years. Why would anyone put themselves through that?

Wouldn't you have to be crazy?

Sam Bond is completely sane, and he plays in a band with his ex-wife. Bond, 55, and singer Natty Moss Bond, 47, of St. Petersburg say they are "connected" and always will be.

They just don't want to be married to each other.

Funny thing is, since the couple split in 1990 after 10 years of marriage, they haven't spent much time apart. Back then, the duo fronted popular local band Multi-Color House, in which Sam wrote much of the music and Natty sang his songs.

The band had just released a national CD on the independent DB/Safety Net label and had to tour, driving all over the country while going through a divorce.

"People always asked us, "How in the world could you do that?' " Bond said last Wednesday evening outside the State Theatre in St. Petersburg where he and Natty where performing an acoustic set.

"We had worked too hard, for so many years and we finally got a record out," he said. "We had to put our differences aside."

The travel wasn't comfortable, he says, and many of those miles were silent. Sometime his ex-wife sang heartbreak songs he wrote about her.

"We may have been selfish about our own lives," Bond says, "but we were never selfish about the music."

Staying together for the music did make things difficult for others in their lives, however.

"Put it this way," Bond says, "music is always like "the other woman' to a girlfriend because being in a band takes up so much of your time and energy. Try being in a band with your ex-wife! It's made it very difficult for some women I've dated."

After Multi-Color House disbanded, the duo continued on together musically.

Then things got even stranger.

Forming the new band Sparky's Nightmare in 1997, the duo met bassist Martin Rice, a talented musician on the Tampa Bay-area music scene. Rice, 37, became one of the band's principal songwriters.

He also became Moss Bond's boyfriend. The two have lived together for five years.

"Martin is a great guy," Bond says. "He understands this is how it is. I give him the space to have his unique relationship with Natalie and he does the same with me. We all respect each other. We are very blessed and fortunate."

Then, Bond laughs.

"Of course, it's not always so vanilla."

Bond pauses.

"She and I really did have to go through a lot of pain to get to where we are," Bond says.

"But in life, you have people who bring something out of you. Whether it's love or music. Or both.

"And, when you have someone in your life who brings that out of you, it's a very precious thing. You don't just throw that away."

Does intraband turmoil make for great art?

Fleetwood Mac produced the masterpiece Rumours (1977) during the Buckingham-Nicks split and the breakup between bandmates Christine and John McVie.

The breakup of No Doubt's Gwen Stefani and bassist Tony Kanal fueled the hit Don't Speak and much of band's breakout 1995 Tragic Kingdom. Former married couple (who now pose as brother and sister) Jack and Meg White have found success with the sad blues-rock tunes in the White Stripes.

Other bands that made it big while enduring breakups including the Fugees ( Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean), Culture Club (Boy George and drummer Jon Moss), Richard and Linda Thompson (who also toured while divorcing), Sleater-Kinney (singer-guitarists Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein), the Eurythmics, Superchunk and X.

All of those bands, even the ones who split most acrimoniously, have remained together, or reunited, even if just for an isolated gig.

Which delights fans. It's exciting watching ex-lovers sing onstage. We can fantasize that sometimes, a spark of what was once there is rekindled.

The reality is as exciting, for the couple onstage. To have loved, lost and still be able to create and hang out together?

Musicians "get" it.

Would the rest of us even dare try?

Gina Vivinetto can be reached at (727) 893-8565 or ginasptimes.com.

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