I love that Esperanza Spalding got the grammy for new artist. Not only did she earn it, I love what it stands for.
She’s a prime example to use the next time you hear someone say, “there’s no more good music these days”. For example, here’s a typical comment from I found on youtube while watching the Temptations:
“Too bad real music like this will never happen again….too much computer enhancement and auto-tone these days. You don’t have to really sing anymore…these days the record deals are all about who you know instead of “real” talent. RIP Motown…”
This is a sentiment you’ll see parroted often when you browse videos with past greats like Ella Fitzgerald or Stevie Rae Vaughn. They’re great, today’s top 40 sucks, ergo, no more good music ever again. It’s not only there that I’ve encountered this; I heard it uttered over and over when I was studying music, both from classmates and from seasoned pros and/or profs who should have known better.
Philosophically, we can never wade through the same river twice. Times change, tastes change, technology changes. However, this does not prove that there are no and never will be any more brilliant music. In fact, there’s a myriad of artists, writers and composers out there right now who are burning with musical talent and passion. Esperanza Spalding, I submit, is an excellent example.
Here are two counter-arguments to consider:
First, when we look back in music history, we see all those awesome characters: Mozart, Stravinsky, Duke Ellington, Buddy Holly, John Lennon, Hendrix, both Joplins, Kurt Kobain, etc. But for all these great musicians, there are countless others we don’t remember. We don’t remember them because they weren’t great like the ones above. There were lots of cats composing at the same time as Mozart, but there was only one Mozart.
First-and-a-half, we assume that all these past musical greats were always accepted as such in their own times. Bach and Haydn led mostly humble lives as servants. Schubert died somewhat obscurely as a pauper. Little Richard is surely better known than white-bread-with-the-crusts-cut-off Pat Boone, but who’s recording of Tooty Fruity did better then? Hendrix got canned from his gig opening for the Monkeys after two weeks because the audience thought he sucked.
Great artists are often under-appreciated in their own times while mediocrity often rises to the top. It’s not my part here to discuss why this is so; my point is that this has always been so.
Secondly, just because you don’t hear it doesn’t mean it’s not being played. To anyone who read that quote above and thought that it was right on the money I say this: it’s not the times, it’s not the musicians, it’s not even the record labels at fault; it’s you. True it may be that record labels are becoming ever more bottom-line selective in whom they sign, there has never been a better time in history to discover great music from all over the world, all by yourself. Thanks to the internet and digital media, it has never been this easy. Any musician with or without a contract — such as myself– can sell mp3s on iTunes, and many musicians — such as myself– are even giving away music for free. My point being, if you can’t find musicians out there who can really play, singers who can really sing, songwriters and composers who can really write, you’re not trying hard enough.
To wrap up, here’s a paraphrased exchange from I, Claudius where a famous, aged Greek actor engaged to perform at court chats with a servant who was also formally an actor:
Servant: “The theater is not what it was…”
Old Actor: “That’s true, but I tell you something else. It never was what it was.”
And what a time we had. I — no — we all were amazed by the beautiful surroundings, what with all those magnificent mountains sticking out of the ground all over the place. There was a downside though: Austrians.
Not all of them of course. Friday was an unbelievable rock and roll orgy of legendary proportions. And I’m not upset anymore that someone lifted three of my sticks — coincidentally being the only ones with matching pairs in my stick bag. I’ve succeeded in convincing myself that the culprit wasn’t that mincing weirdo but rather one of the multiple pretty gals I hung out with and didn’t understand a word of that night. They must have had their reasons, and trying to imagine exactly what they are has turned out to be an enjoyable pastime during those many idle moments while on the road.
The following two nights were a letdown thereafter. We’d expected to play in two “biker bars” but it turn out to be more like Bennigan’s with motorcycle crap on the walls. And frankly, the cultural backwardness on those two dates was appalling. A complete disinterest in live music, or for that matter, any real music. Can you believe we heard “Rock Me Amadeus” at least once on the radio every damn day? One guy asked me if Dresden was in Poland. And what’s with all the hair gel? And how many “fauxhawks”? 6 point 7 on the D-bag scale. Another oddity, although not really a downside, was that many Austrians seemed to take pride in being uncomprehensible to Germans. Austrian is also by no means a sexy sounding dialect. That’s saying a lot, coming from someone who has lived over a decade amongst Saxons, whose dialect–let’s be honest–sounds downright retarded.
I’m being too negative because I’ve just gotten home and I’m completely exhausted. I can’t neglect that even in those few bleak moments we encountered numerous allies, and I’d be more than willing to go again to rock out and further explore them majestic mountains and valleys, if you get my drift.
Whenever DDC plays, we try to learn a new song fitting to the locale.
Here’s our themesong for last month’s gig at Godzilla bar “Zille” on Görlitzerstr.
It should be pointed out that this wasn’t a Japanese Godzilla bar, but rather named after Saxon-born illustration Heinrich Godzilla (1858 – 1929), whose comical illustration served to give biting commentary on the harsh conditions of the 19th century industrialized working poor. His drawings also oft featured what is now known as the “Godzilla butt”.
Please excuse the indulgence, but current events led me to want to watch this one again.
Monster Nerdrock rock rock.