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Bob Lefsetz on Modern Country His take on the modern country music industry..

#1 User is online   ScenesFromPalacio Icon

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 02:52 AM

Rock star song

"I thought they called it COUNTRY music.

If Charlie Rich cut "The Most Beautiful Girl " he wouldn't be able to get any airplay, because suddenly country is rock. Only it's a watered-down, wimpy, non-threatening take on the corporate rock of the seventies. As for Hank Williams or George Jones...does anybody under the age of thirty really know who they are?

Artists lead, they don't follow. They're not beholden to their audience, IT'S THE OTHER WAY AROUND!

Ever hear a little ditty by the name of "Strawberry Fields Forever"? Not only did it sound unlike anything the Beatles had ever cut previously, it was different from absolutely everything on the radio. So what did the radio do? PLAY IT! And the audience embraced it. Because the Beatles weren't sniveling idiots asking for likes on Facebook, doing it all for the fans so they could keep up their resort island lifestyle. No, John Lennon was honest, he said the Beatles were bigger than Jesus AND THEY WERE!

But in today's country if you don't kiss the ring of the Evangelicals, if you don't embrace SUVs and a passel of kids you're not only an outlaw, but a heathen.

When did music become so safe?

As for rock... Top Forty radio refuses to play it and what's on the rock stations is a parody of itself. Longhaired guys repeating the riffs of generations past, trying to appear dangerous when wimpy Sean Parker is more of a threat.

But it's a reflection of our whole country. Ivy League graduates want to become bankers, everybody's trying to acquire a safety net while depriving their brethren of same. And the only innovation is in tech, where there's a plethora of new cool products and if you don't innovate, you die.

Kenny Chesney is a Commodore 64. Or a Radio Shack TRS-80. Something impressive in its day but now almost completely forgotten.

Yes, despite all the hype, Kenny's last stadium tour didn't sell out, they gave away a ton of tickets. As for Tim McGraw...his career is as challenged as that of his wife, he's on the verge of being a has-been, that's why he and Kenny are going out together, they're scared of doing it alone.

And they listen to the accountants and the lawyers and the program directors, to everyone but themselves.

Wait a minute, wasn't being a rock star about doing it YOUR WAY? Doing something dangerous, taking a risk, wowing the public instead of celebrating their passive lives?

That's how screwed up music is, it celebrates the audience's lifestyle!

The lemmings who go to Kenny Chesney's shows are not rock stars, believe me. Instead of thinking for themselves they're beholden to Fox News and money-grubbing preachers.

Oh, get your knickers in a twist. Excoriate me for telling the truth.

That's the problem in America, no one will speak the truth.

And the truth is modern country music is not. Neither modern nor country. And it's being held hostage by a corporate, right wing hierarchy that truly abhors rock stars.

Thank god it's a backwater. It means nothing outside the U.S. and I bet most of you reading this have never heard this lowest common denominator track.

But you should check it out. But only on an empty stomach. Otherwise you'll toss your cookies.

Kenny! What happened to the man who cut "On The Coast Of Somewhere Beautiful" and "I Go Back"? Maybe instead of trying to placate stadiums you should go play clubs and get your groove back"

BOB LEFSETZ

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 08:19 AM

Thanks for sharing. Although I'm not a country guy I can see what this guy is saying, particularly about the state of rock music. When did rock start becoming so meaningless? At the risk of sounding like one of those fossils that can't let go of the past I have to say, whatever happened to the good old days? Sure, you have your hopelessly bland(in my opinion anyway) bands like Nickelback. And you've got any number of "white guys with guitars" that have come off the myriad of reality shows out there. But that good quality rock music is out there only for those who wish to dig deep and find it. So yeah, there is still good stuff coming from the rock world. You won't hear it on your radio but it's out there for those that wish to dig for it. In that sense things have gone full circle.

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 09:00 AM

What an eye opening video. Thanks for sharing Steve.

I think there are two things at work, especially in Country Music.

1) People go to what they know. There was a "country' music plugger that contacted me and asked if I would submit a song for consideration...Looked and semed like a pretty legit company, so Id see what their website was all about. In submitting a song to them in consideration, you had to answer 10 questions about the song...how long is the intro before vox comes in. what structure VCVCBC, etc...how long is the entire song. how long are the verses. is there a solo? how long? You had to answer all those questions BEFORE they listen or considered the song. If any didnt fit what they wanted, it would kick back saying "not what we're looking for"...BLAHAHAHAHA!!! Funny.
That mentality allows the mama bird to sit in the nest while the worms just magicly hop in. It also stiffles creativy almost eliminates it to some degree, but it is what it is.

2) There are ground breakers, Elvis and even the beatles changed it forever IMO, but consider country was only in its 30's or 40's at that time so there was more to change and we a social movement as well as a musical one which defined its passion and probably had as strick rules and resons for them as people have today in "taking risks". Country music today is nearly 100 years old, possibly older (if you date it from people like John Carson, who was also looked at as a oddity at the time. (ps...theres alot of useless music trivia in my brain).

I think the only thing WE can control is our music. People, again IMO, like the Avett Brothers are adding a flavor to country that really hasn't been heard, but will they, IMO, ever be commercially success, PROBABLY not to the extent of Justin Beiber and Taylor Swift by choice or not. They may however, change us, the next generation of songwriters through inspiration.

Im not sure that we can ever take over and change the landscape. the monster is too big now. Even Clear Channel, which once I could walk in and hand my cd to the dj and be on the air in minutes became a $ juggernaut , holding the money close to the vest by not taking risks. ANd to be honest, I think they CANT take the risks with the business declining in profitability. technology dug a hole for the majors. I asked a friend of mine, "how many cd's do you have now", he said over 2000. HUGE music fan. I asked him what was the last one you purchased, he said that was in 2008, I download everything for free.

Thanks for sharing the vid Steve!
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Posted 26 April 2012 - 10:40 AM

meh...he makes a few valid points, but completely ignores or disregards a lot as well. Lefsetz has built his entire career on attacking others in the industry, so consider the source.

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 11:59 AM

View PostRoger, on 26 April 2012 - 10:40 AM, said:

meh...he makes a few valid points, but completely ignores or disregards a lot as well. Lefsetz has built his entire career on attacking others in the industry, so consider the source.


I don't know anything about the author, but as I read the piece I kinda felt like this guy had
more of an agenda than a point of view. I agree with some of his points, but IMHO,
he comes across preaching rather than informing(quite whiney actually).

As for the decline of ticket sales for some big name artist (Urban and McGraw), there are only a few iconic acts that can stand the test of time and continue to fill arenas and stadiums.
(The Stones, U-2, The Boss). Most of the packed houses these days are for relatively new talent like SWIFT, BEIBER, and the like. And I am confident they too will see the day when the star looses a little of the luster.

An interesting read though. Thanks Steve for sharing.

Cheers,
Joe

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 11:59 AM

It just makes me laugh, there's just to many people out there who have this feeling of entitlement. Like all you have to do is post your songs on itunes, or Taxi, or god forbid getting on A. I. or The Voice, or youtube for that matter, or squat yourself down in some southern city with a thousand other wannabes, and the world will beat a path to your door. What a joke.

Technology hasn't changed anything, you wanna make it in today's world, you still need to do it the old fashion way, you earn it. By that I mean is you need talent, a good way to acquire that talent is you go out and pay your dues, you make your music your life, you go out and tour and play and tour and play and if it means booking your own hall and five people show up and you take bath on the rental, you keep doing it or you quit.

If you keep doing it and you truly do have some talent, eventually you start breaking even, then start making a little money in the meantime a bit of buzz starts getting generated, next you're starting to fill up 100 seat venues, more buzz gets generated, then 300 seat venues, more buzz, soon you're touring away from your base, you're getting buzz from a wider area and so on and so on.

Pretty much the way the band "Rush" and all the other greats started out, eventually generating enough buzz the labels came calling on them, but whoa, they (Rush) wouldn't sign with any label, unless the label allowed them total artistic control of their music, the label begrudgingly capitulated and the rest is as they say history.

What you got happening today is everybody wants that instant fame and fortune, the labels are trying to sell an image, and yes that's what they also did in the old days but in those days, talent also came along with that image, what you got today especially in country is simply an manufactured image with a pseudo talent because these so called stars have never payed their dues or developed their own sound.

You want to make it in today's music, get your chops down first, rent a venue, post flyers all over the place of your concert, and knock your audience over with a live performance. You'll have a greater chance of making it that way, then posting your stuff on itunes. That comes later once you've already made it.

If it was good enough for Neil Young to do it that way, it should be a hint for you to do it the same way.

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 11:59 AM

Roger said:

Lefsetz has built his entire career on attacking others in the industry, so consider the source.

Lefsetz is an entertaining polemicist, a valuable provocateur, albeit one whose prejudices and blind-spots issue from the desperation of resuscitating and reliving a lost and distant youth. He is not alone in that last: it's a curse that has permeated the entire industry for many years. But first and foremost he is an 'enthusiast' - something which communicates itself irrepressibly in what he churns out with such impressive regularity. So it seems to me that his career is built on unreconstructed nostalgia, a form of love, and the ability to communicate. Other commentators are much more sycophantic in comparison and prefer to ruffle no feathers. And let's not forget that old Uncle Bob can also be acute and insightful in observation and analysis - as well as sometimes plain wrong.

Interested parties might like to subscribe to "The Lefsetz Letter" and enjoy more of his unique and irregular invective.
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Posted 26 April 2012 - 02:07 PM

Deja vu. This thread, that song - whatever.

It's well done. Was it worth doing well? Maybe, at least in some aspects. This kind of music is disposable - but 'twas ever thus.

There are many who do OK, and few who last the test of time. Of course, we then compare those songs that won't last with those that do. Same with artists.

I think it takes a different approach to last a lifetime. And you can make a good living out of fast food. Of course, if you want to be a recognised chef, that's something else again ...
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Posted 26 April 2012 - 02:10 PM

I'm not a huge country music fan so it is hard for me to comment with too much insight but that said I do check in and listen to what's on the country station from time to time. I don't know the artists names outside of 2 or 3 when they're playing the newer stuff and the station here has mainly newer stuff. That said I think Taylor Swift is pretty good. It's a solid package of commercial music that has some quality to it. Even some honesty. Same for the Chesney/Urban types, and I especially appreciate Brad Paisley as a guitar guy.

That being said there is a lot of generic platitudes in the lyric writing that I notice. I mean it is like watching a B movie that is so bad it's good! Flags? Check... Pickup truck? Check... Apple Pie? Check! Of course even that can be done well as I do kind of like Chicken Fried by the Zack Brown band though I have some self loathing over that one.

In the end the Country music industry isn't doing anything different than what Berry Gordy was doing with Motown though I would say Motown made better music. Berry wanted to create a manufacturing line for hits like he saw in the car factories and he had a formula and it worked (he also had a tight group of some of the best session players probably ever). Your just seeing that business model across the board and country music isn't an exception as much as it is the rule. It's just done on a broad scale these days. I'm sure this thought will be controversial but I watched a special on Berry recently and this discussion got me thinking that corporate backed music is just operating on this type of model country or otherwise. I'll go run for cover now... ;)

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 08:46 PM

Just putting my two cents in.

I lived in Florida and then moved just south of Nashville, Tennessee.

We went to Dickson, Tenn where they had a radio show being broadcast
From the basement of a five and dime store. Old building wood floors and seating
for about fifty people..well there is where I realized where true country music
Music comes from.

All the musicians were so real as were the old men and women with taps on their shoes dancing in the aisles.

Just hearing them speak was a treat. There are still places like that
Generating some great new lyrics and tunes. The best I can express to you is how I was touched by how genuine they were. It can't be duplicated. It was coming from the heart. You just didn't want it to end.

Once in awhile I hear something that sounds close to what we heard on those mornings in Dickson, Tenn.

Just something I experienced years ago
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Posted 27 April 2012 - 04:50 PM

Theresa,

That is actually the norm, not the exception. If you are near Dickson, go to "Mary's Music. " One of my friends owns that place.

M

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 07:28 PM

Hello Mabbo,
I have since moved back to Florida..but I miss listening to all that great music.
I have two nephews (musicians) who live up there in Franklin..Chris Frame and Jim Frame..Jim is with the Howboy Catts and Chris has played with many different groups as well as being a studio musician (guitar)..Chris toured with Son Volt.

There is definitely a great feeling music wise in that area ..I will tell them about
Mary's Music incase they haven't been.
Take care
Theresa

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 02:20 PM

I'm okay with the idea of country acts singing about rock stars. So much of the industry -- and audience -- grew up listening to both, to Country Joe singing rock, and Kid Rock singing country, so yes they would end up with a worst-of-both-worlds hybrid. Ever since Garth Brooks et al. started filling rock-sized venues, it's understandable that the industry aim would shift to filling stadiums instead of halls. The Dixie Chicks, bless their hearts, knew the score when they said they'd "rather be the rock stars of country than the lame-asses of rock."

The ugly bit is the song themes that try to sum up the lives of their listeners, and by sucking up to an idyllic and false vision of a kinder, gentler, simpler life. Songs like "Small Town Southern Man" are the musical version of a Thomas Kinkade painting of some twee cottage on a stream. In these songs it's not even enough to sing about going to church. It has to be a little white church, preferably with a baptizin' creek running right behind it.

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 06:22 AM

Quote

Lefsetz is an entertaining polemicist, a valuable provocateur, albeit one whose prejudices and blind-spots issue from the desperation of resuscitating and reliving a lost and distant youth. He is not alone in that last: it's a curse that has permeated the entire industry for many years. But first and foremost he is an 'enthusiast' - something which communicates itself irrepressibly in what he churns out with such impressive regularity. So it seems to me that his career is built on unreconstructed nostalgia, a form of love, and the ability to communicate. Other commentators are much more sycophantic in comparison and prefer to ruffle no feathers. And let's not forget that old Uncle Bob can also be acute and insightful in observation and analysis - as well as sometimes plain wrong.

Interested parties might like to subscribe to "The Lefsetz Letter" and enjoy more of his unique and irregular invective.


That kinda sums up his appeal for me..Judging from the songs he recommends - i certainly don't share his taste in music generally ..
But i like him 'cos he's entertaining ,totally honest and -like Bill Hicks was - righteously angry about modern societies meaninglessness n $$$ worshipping mediocrity - and an obvious passionate idealist rallying against a world of fakers, bullsh*tters , cynical manipulaters n pragmatic apologists....
He fights the good fight...

As far as this article goes -who wouldn't agree Charlie Rich's 'Most Beautiful Girl' is worth 10 lifetimes more than that rock-star track ?
The spirit in all forms of music is worth nurturing,worshipping n protecting B) ..

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 08:37 AM

View PostScenesFromPalacio, on 29 April 2012 - 05:22 AM, said:

Quote

Lefsetz is an entertaining polemicist, a valuable provocateur, albeit one whose prejudices and blind-spots issue from the desperation of resuscitating and reliving a lost and distant youth. He is not alone in that last: it's a curse that has permeated the entire industry for many years. But first and foremost he is an 'enthusiast' - something which communicates itself irrepressibly in what he churns out with such impressive regularity. So it seems to me that his career is built on unreconstructed nostalgia, a form of love, and the ability to communicate. Other commentators are much more sycophantic in comparison and prefer to ruffle no feathers. And let's not forget that old Uncle Bob can also be acute and insightful in observation and analysis - as well as sometimes plain wrong.

Interested parties might like to subscribe to "The Lefsetz Letter" and enjoy more of his unique and irregular invective.


That kinda sums up his appeal for me..Judging from the songs he recommends - i certainly don't share his taste in music generally ..
But i like him 'cos he's entertaining ,totally honest and -like Bill Hicks was - righteously angry about modern societies meaninglessness n $$$ worshipping mediocrity - and an obvious passionate idealist rallying against a world of fakers, bullsh*tters , cynical manipulaters n pragmatic apologists....
He fights the good fight...

As far as this article goes -who wouldn't agree Charlie Rich's 'Most Beautiful Girl' is worth 10 lifetimes more than that rock-star track ?
The spirit in all forms of music is worth nurturing,worshipping n protecting B) ..



"The Most Beautiful Girl" was written by a good friend of mine, Norro Wilson (with Billy Sherrill & Rory Bourke). Norro would tell you flat out, they wrote that song to get it cut, have a hit, & make money. The same is true of literally hundreds of other hits from those days. It's certainly a valid point that the songs may have been (or flat out were) better in those days, but let's not pretend it's because the process was any different.

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 11:25 AM

View PostRoger, on 29 April 2012 - 09:37 AM, said:

[

"The Most Beautiful Girl" was written by a good friend of mine, Norro Wilson (with Billy Sherrill & Rory Bourke). Norro would tell you flat out, they wrote that song to get it cut, have a hit, & make money. The same is true of literally hundreds of other hits from those days. It's certainly a valid point that the songs may have been (or flat out were) better in those days, but let's not pretend it's because the process was any different.


Roger, I don't really know your work, but that one song of yours, I Knew Love, seems to have some extra special spin on it. What was the process like when you wrote it? Was there any difference between the process for writing that and the ones you just sort of grind out hoping for a hit?

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 11:35 AM

View PostJoan, on 29 April 2012 - 10:25 AM, said:

View PostRoger, on 29 April 2012 - 09:37 AM, said:

[

"The Most Beautiful Girl" was written by a good friend of mine, Norro Wilson (with Billy Sherrill & Rory Bourke). Norro would tell you flat out, they wrote that song to get it cut, have a hit, & make money. The same is true of literally hundreds of other hits from those days. It's certainly a valid point that the songs may have been (or flat out were) better in those days, but let's not pretend it's because the process was any different.


Roger, I don't really know your work, but that one song of yours, I Knew Love, seems to have some extra special spin on it. What was the process like when you wrote it? Was there any difference between the process for writing that and the ones you just sort of grind out hoping for a hit?


I get asked about that song fairly often. The process was pretty uneventful actually...I sat down at my desk one afternoon and wrote it in about 30 minutes. To me, it was little more than 'another song' - the only thing that was the least bit unusual in my approach on that particular song was that I didn't start with a title, and wrote it in a completely linear way (that is, I started with the first line, then the 2nd, then the 3rd, & so on - most of the time I'll write a chorus first, or start with the 'hook' line and write up to it). As best as I recall (it's been about 25 years since I wrote it) it was more of an exercise in writing than anything else, and certainly was not an 'inspired' piece of work. I remember not thinking that much about it, and didn't think it was all that good when I turned it in to my publisher...they liked it a lot more than I did at the time.

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 12:28 PM

I'd not heard that song before. I just listened. Very pretty and very nicely done. That kind of simplicity isn't simple to do.

I'm guessing it suddenly tied itself together with the last verse. Isn't it great when that happens? It makes the song for the listener too!
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Posted 30 April 2012 - 12:36 PM

Quote

"The Most Beautiful Girl" was written by a good friend of mine, Norro Wilson (with Billy Sherrill & Rory Bourke). Norro would tell you flat out, they wrote that song to get it cut, have a hit, & make money. The same is true of literally hundreds of other hits from those days. It's certainly a valid point that the songs may have been (or flat out were) better in those days, but let's not pretend it's because the process was any different.


All the brill building n tamla motown songwriters etc i worship were doing it primarily to get cuts n make money too..
Really good songs have alot of genuine emotional expression n love for the music as driving forces in them too tho- People wouldn't be able to write great songs if they didn't really love what they were doing - and were artists at heart..
I don't have a problem with people writing songs to make money..I just don't enjoy hearing that was obviously the main motive in the finished song,thats all..

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 12:45 PM

View PostScenesFromPalacio, on 30 April 2012 - 11:36 AM, said:

Quote

"The Most Beautiful Girl" was written by a good friend of mine, Norro Wilson (with Billy Sherrill & Rory Bourke). Norro would tell you flat out, they wrote that song to get it cut, have a hit, & make money. The same is true of literally hundreds of other hits from those days. It's certainly a valid point that the songs may have been (or flat out were) better in those days, but let's not pretend it's because the process was any different.


All the brill building n tamla motown songwriters etc i worship were doing it primarily to get cuts n make money too..
Really good songs have alot of genuine emotional expression n love for the music as driving forces in them too tho- People wouldn't be able to write great songs if they didn't really love what they were doing - and were artists at heart..
I don't have a problem with people writing songs to make money..I just don't want to hear that was obviously the main motive in the finished song,thats all..



but it WAS the main motive in the vast majority of cases. You not wanting to hear it doesn't mean it isn't the truth.

I wrote at the same publishing company for a while with Steve Cropper....guess what, his motivation was getting cuts and making money. The talent made the songs great, and of course there was a love of what they were doing. But they're primary motivation was to write songs that were hits...and that means commercial.

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 11:19 PM

Paul McCartney once was quoted saying "people always think the Beatles were all about peace and love and saving the world. And to some extent that is true. But many is the time John and I sat down and said "Let's Write a swimming pool." Every professional writer has always had a desire to be paid for what they do if not make a living at it. That is part of what being a PROFESSIONAL is. And everyone from the Brill Building and Motown were all VERY focused on making money, having hits, staying in the business. But I can assure you that money was never the primary motivating factor. Getting what is INSIDE you OUT to as many people as possible is all part of that. But never the only part.

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 03:56 AM

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but it WAS the main motive in the vast majority of cases. You not wanting to hear it doesn't mean it isn't the truth.


There was an unintentional pun in what i said..
I meant i don't like listening to a track where i can hear n feel by the end result the only motive in creating it was to make money.. Really artless,bad pop music with a 'forced' quality (usually pretending to be joyful ) is just a real turn -off..

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 04:04 AM

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Every professional writer has always had a desire to be paid for what they do if not make a living at it. That is part of what being a PROFESSIONAL is. And everyone from the Brill Building and Motown were all VERY focused on making money,


I'd absoloutly love to get paid for writing music -who wouldn't..Wish it was as simple to get into the buisness as just playing the songs you'd written to a publisher -if they liked them and thought they could make money from them -you were in..(From reading the 'brill building' book, people could actually do that in those days..)

Quote

But I can assure you that money was never the primary motivating factor. Getting what is INSIDE you OUT to as many people as possible is all part of that. But never the only part.


You can hear it in the great music they did they were artists..You've gotta have a passionate love for the music to become a good songwriter -there's no other way..
A bankers someone who's only motive's to make money...You can't be that fully-focussed greedy n mercenary and be a good songwriter.What you do'll just sound forced..

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 10:04 AM

I think you hear that forced songwriting and posing in all music these days not just Nashville. In fact over time it's always sort of been there. These days I think it is a little more prevalent because the avenues for getting music heard have narrowed for large scale exposure. That being said there are plenty of smaller avenues for the the starving Indie artist to get heard too.

"Oh mickey your so fine, your so fine you blow my mind hey Mickey!"

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 06:37 PM

Love, LoveMe Do.
You Know I love you,
I'll Always be true
Love me do.

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 09:02 PM

View PostMABBO, on 01 May 2012 - 05:37 PM, said:

Love, LoveMe Do.
You Know I love you,
I'll Always be true
Love me do.


Lyrically maybe but oh the harmonies on the Pleeeeease.... Magic! Musically that one is brilliant...

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 06:03 AM

View PostScotto, on 01 May 2012 - 09:02 PM, said:

View PostMABBO, on 01 May 2012 - 05:37 PM, said:

Love, LoveMe Do.
You Know I love you,
I'll Always be true
Love me do.


Lyrically maybe but oh the harmonies on the Pleeeeease.... Magic! Musically that one is brilliant...


That song is such a landmark for tin pan alley. It changed a lot about who writes and who performed the song, let alone a the first domino for more music from the beatles. I agree about the harmonies. To me, this is one of the top 20 things that changed music and the music business.

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 08:13 AM

It's what making money from music should be...

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 09:59 AM

That song is such a landmark for tin pan alley. It changed a lot about who writes and who performed the song, let alone a the first domino for more music from the beatles. I agree about the harmonies. To me, this is one of the top 20 things that changed music and the music business.

Porcupine

Porcupine,

It actually did more than that. It pretty much heralded the end of the "outside" writer in pop music, and has been leaning to "artist/writers" ever since. Before 1964, you still had the Carol King's, Burt Bacharat's", Neil Sedaka, Holland Dozier Holland, etc.that wrote the songs the artists sang. After that, more and more artists were signed who wrote their material and with each successive generation, "pure writers" simply went the way of the dodo. The last hold out was really country, which has now gone to about 95% inside writers. There are probably less than 20 songs a year that are hits in any genre that is not written by the artist, their inner circle, or the companies that pay the salaries of those artists.

So, yes, it did usher in a new way to look at the writer/artist relationship. But for people who wish to get "their songs out there" without including the inside connections or relationships, it was the final nail in that coffin. Just took a couple of decades to get the corpse buried.

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 12:55 PM

And people had a problem with John Denver winning Country Music awards :P

I think the Rock Star song is fine...not one to make you pause and reflect on life....but one that is surely able to get you motivated while swinging a hammer at work!
In the end it's just a song.......and music, these days, is pretty uninspiring...in all genres. And so, while I am looking to write the next, "Love Me Do" I am going to continue to experiment, untill I get it right.
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Posted 03 May 2012 - 01:35 PM

MABBO said:

That song is such a landmark for tin pan alley.

Interesting.
I have never thought about it that way.

The way I have read the situation previously is that, at least in the UK, the authorship profile began to transform not because labels were signing artists who wrote their own material but because artists who had been already signed began to recognise the value of an income stream from publishing.

Early signs of the tendency for me were an early Rolling Stone LP release for instance on which “Love In Vain” was credited to Jagger-Richards or when Rod Stewart minimally modified the title and lyric of a B.B.King hit to release “Rock My Plimsoles” under his own name. Money beckoned.

On the UK touring circuit of the early ‘60s, bands played their versions of the Blues R&B and Motown they listened to at home. Dance-band musicians complained about lost work. Haircuts and guitars in the backs of vans travelled up and down the M1 making their market instead. Drugs were added. And almost overnight it seemed the Moody Blues ceased playing James Brown covers and mutated into psychedelic significance. I look at it as moments in the history of branding. A drummer whose company I have enjoyed far more than his playing, which I find inept and irksome in extremis even while it seems to be quite highly revered by those in the rock world – all reasons for which he shall remain nameless – once observed to me that he could poop in a bag and still sell copies. “Merda d’Artista”. He even knew the numbers as predictable. Cynical but honest about his own brand-value.

Never considered the song “Love Me Do” as any particular milestone landmark before. And I’m not sure that I am yet persuaded. Early Beatles was always personally pretty insignificant with “Love Me Do” and “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” being far too white and trite for me in context of much of the available alternatives. The first real inkling that they had something solid going on didn’t connect with me until Revolver and Rubber Soul.

Ironknee said:

music, these days, is pretty uninspiring...in all genres.

I disagree.
There is always oodles of marvelously inspiring music being played everywhere.
It's just that the music 'industry' is geared to sell hamburger.
Try exploring more off-menu.

Musicians of today - right now - whose music has inspired me through this past week:
Renee Rosnes; Rita Marcotulli; Ann Wolf; Nathalie Loriers; Joey DeFrancesco; Chris Potter; Wayne Shorter; David Sanborn; Gretchen Parlato; Lionel Louke; John Scofield; Vince Mendoza; Zeca Pagodinho.
Hip Pocket Music

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and the second best to sing them"

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“SONG is the joint art of words and music, two arts under emotional pressure coalescing into a third.
The relation and balance of the two arts is a problem that has to be resolved anew in every song that is composed.”

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 03:51 PM

View PostLazz, on 03 May 2012 - 11:35 AM, said:

Porcupine said:

That song is such a landmark for tin pan alley.

Interesting.
I have never thought about it that way.

The way I have read the situation previously is that, at least in the UK, the authorship profile began to transform not because labels were signing artists who wrote their own material but because artists who had been already signed began to recognise the value of an income stream from publishing.

Early signs of the tendency for me were an early Rolling Stone LP release for instance on which “Love In Vain” was credited to Jagger-Richards or when Rod Stewart minimally modified the title and lyric of a B.B.King hit to release “Rock My Plimsoles” under his own name. Money beckoned.

On the UK touring circuit of the early ‘60s, bands played their versions of the Blues R&B and Motown they listened to at home. Dance-band musicians complained about lost work. Haircuts and guitars in the backs of vans travelled up and down the M1 making their market instead. Drugs were added. And almost overnight it seemed the Moody Blues ceased playing James Brown covers and mutated into psychedelic significance. I look at it as moments in the history of branding. A drummer whose company I have enjoyed far more than his playing, which I find inept and irksome in extremis even while it seems to be quite highly revered by those in the rock world – all reasons for which he shall remain nameless – once observed to me that he could poop in a bag and still sell copies. “Merda d’Artista”. He even knew the numbers as predictable. Cynical but honest about his own brand-value.

Never considered the song “Love Me Do” as any particular milestone landmark before. And I’m not sure that I am yet persuaded. Early Beatles was always personally pretty insignificant with “Love Me Do” and “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” being far too white and trite for me in context of much of the available alternatives. The first real inkling that they had something solid going on didn’t connect with me until Revolver and Rubber Soul.

Ironknee said:

music, these days, is pretty uninspiring...in all genres.

I disagree.
There is always oodles of marvelously inspiring music being played everywhere.
It's just that the music 'industry' is geared to sell hamburger.
Try exploring more off-menu.

Musicians of today - right now - whose music has inspired me through this past week:
Renee Rosnes; Rita Marcotulli; Ann Wolf; Nathalie Loriers; Joey DeFrancesco; Chris Potter; Wayne Shorter; David Sanborn; Gretchen Parlato; Lionel Louke; John Scofield; Vince Mendoza; Zeca Pagodinho.
Corrected

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 04:36 PM

View PostLazz, on 03 May 2012 - 11:35 AM, said:

Never considered the song “Love Me Do” as any particular milestone landmark before.


I agree.

I don't think this song opened the floodgates.

They were already opened by the likes of Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, the Beach Boys, etc... who were already performing their own material.

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 05:04 PM

I never said "Love me do" was a landmark for Tin Pan Alley. Actually "Love me do" was only a response to the "Hey Micky You're so fine" comment that came before it. What I said was that the advent of the Beatles opened the floodgates for the artist being the songwriter. Before that, yes there were individuals that did write their own songs, but the Beatles made it a requirement that artists wrote their own material. Before the Beatles got hit after hit after hit, there were still independent songwriters. Tin Pan Alley, and later the Brill Building, and the Motown era of the 60's had in house writers.

After the Beatles exploded, everyone was looking for artists that did write and the pure writers, (non-performers) were more or less left behind. Even Carol King, who had established her reputations with things like "Some Fine Day", "Up in the Roof" and other songs in the 50's and 60's, had to form her own career that would come with "Tapestry" in the 70's. And yes, publishing awareness did come through that,but most artists realized that they were going to have to part with publishing to get themselves "out there" anyway, which is why the Beatles did not control their songs and most of those artists of yesterday are just beginning to get some of their publishing back. Publishing is actually part of the cost of doing business and has always been so.

After the Beatles, everyone were songwriters. That begat the singer songwriter boom of the late 60's and 70's, and has extended on to today where artists, or their close inner circles, ARE the writers of their songs. This has been happening in Nashville for the past 15 or 20 years, and the "pure songwriters" here have begun to totally fade from the scene. A lot of conclusions can be drawn from that, but that is what has happened.

The comparrisons I made with the Beatles were the perceptions and actions the Industry itself made in the years after their amazing run.

MAB

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 09:49 AM

I believe that, "Love Me Do" was a landmark song for not only Tin-pan- alley, but for the whole world!
If we were to go back to the day, the impact of that little ditty was very dramatic....and I believe it did reached pretty high in the music charts.
But what made the song so inspiring was the fact that it sounded soooo cooool, while being sooo simple that it was not, in the least bit, intimidating. That song screamed out to the whole world that you too could be a songwriter
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Posted 04 May 2012 - 09:54 AM

Yeah, I have to agree with MABBO. Up til that song, the majority of songs had a writer and performer, although there were exceptions (atleast in the US). Tin Pan Alley, up til that point, 99% was that way. Im a big buddy holly fan, who's strong personality allowed him to do what he wanted because he simply had the goods, he made people take notice of him. I think the beatles did that to the nth power and since Love Me Do was a exception on how things were done, and along with the tremendous way people connected to the beatles, industry and public, they couldnt be ignore...no songwriter, performing or not, could not be ignored...

Tin Pan Alley was NY'd Music Row. consider that it was slightly different at the time because of the types of music it backed, but similar in business. Producers like Irvin Berlin and then "songplugger" George Gershwin hired out through the publishers. that was the way of doing business. Now a #1 song is written by the artist..that starts the pot stirring and if they had been a one hit wonder, who knows, but they weren't. THe song had one hit wonder potential, but the charisma kept them there. their writing eventually. When an industry was set on "controlling" the product, no one broke out of that than the beatles, IMO

Love Me Do, IMO is not an incredible song overall, but it did perk up the industry a bir more than most and over the next few years, there was no way, as a business you could ignore how to make $.

The problem, that I see, It takes a really special ear to hear what makes a song great and even more of a talent to figure who to place it with. Can you really find an artist that has the exact same feelings, emotion that the original writer had when writing it? Its tough. Thats why of all the American Idol contestant records I have, 95% of them have songs that aren't that great. This year on American Idol, there a two AMAZINGLY talented vocalist of the final 4, more so than any year I've ever watched. I'd hate to see a bad song be placed with them, which will ultimately prove my point. Whoever is picking the songs for them jus may continue on the path of being lost in the woods.

As far as music today...I hear lots of great stuff. Most people hear a familiar melody, beat or lyric line and if it is infectious, they look deeper into the song and artist. alot of people are fed it through others and the media, so they like it. Us, as musicians are intrigued a bit differently. we know what we are looking or listening for or at least when we hear something that is said or played differently, we recognize that and THAT is what most people don't get.

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 09:56 AM

View PostIronknee, on 04 May 2012 - 09:49 AM, said:

I believe that, "Love Me Do" was a landmark song for not only Tin-pan- alley, but for the whole world!
If we were to go back to the day, the impact of that little ditty was very dramatic....and I believe it did reached pretty high in the music charts.
But what made the song so inspiring was the fact that it sounded soooo cooool, while being sooo simple that it was not, in the least bit, intimidating. That song screamed out to the whole world that you too could be a songwriter


That is 100% true
#1 song on Onstage.com's Holiday Playlist in Nov 2011 "Could This Be Christmas"
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recorded and produced songs with several grammy winners and nominees
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Posted 05 May 2012 - 01:31 PM

Again,

I was not expressly talking just about "Love Me Do", although that was one of the first Beatles hits. "Please Please Me, She Loves You", all came about the same time. I am simply making a comment on the Beatles being at the forefront of the Artist as the writer that we see continue through to today. Many people who are trying to get songs recorded and have trouble getting them heard at all, are often skipping over this. Since 1964, the definition of what a writer/artist is changed. Therefore there are always going to be less opportunities for any writer who is outside the inner circle that exists with artists.

That is really my point.

MAB

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 01:37 PM

I didn't get the "Hey Mickey........" reference you were responding to, Marc.
What was that about?
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The relation and balance of the two arts is a problem that has to be resolved anew in every song that is composed.”

The Encyclopedia Britannica

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 12:21 PM

Lazz,

About halfway through these posts, Scotto posted about "forced writing" and quoted the song from the 80's, "Oh Micky You're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind, hey Micky..." I thought it was funny he used that song, so I posted the Beatles "Love Me Do." Not as a source of "forced writing" but just mentioning that even the Beatles, who are pretty much universally acclaimed as some of the greatest songwriter's in history, wrote things that were not quite lyrically genuis.

Then the conversation took off about the Beatles contribution to music. My overall point is always that the Beatles both together and separately, as well as most successful writers write a lot of songs. That has always been my focus on conversation. Many writers want to write "Quality over quantity" and it is my contention that it takes Quantity to get to Quality. So that was where my comments focused.

On any of these I try to read what people say, and respond to it, keeping in mind it is a continuing dialogue. And a lot of them come to my attention through emails that say "so and so has commented on...." and I go to it and read it. I usually try to check what was said above and beneath it as well to keep things in context.

My entire point is that there are a lot of different songs for different reasons that have reasonated with the public over the years. And each decade or section of writing can find magnificence and silliness. The "Hey Micky" was just one of them. Just responding to that.

MAB

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 01:40 PM

View PostMABBO, on 07 May 2012 - 11:21 AM, said:

Lazz,

About halfway through these posts, Scotto posted about "forced writing" and quoted the song from the 80's, "Oh Micky You're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind, hey Micky..." I thought it was funny he used that song, so I posted the Beatles "Love Me Do." Not as a source of "forced writing" but just mentioning that even the Beatles, who are pretty much universally acclaimed as some of the greatest songwriter's in history, wrote things that were not quite lyrically genuis.

Then the conversation took off about the Beatles contribution to music. My overall point is always that the Beatles both together and separately, as well as most successful writers write a lot of songs. That has always been my focus on conversation. Many writers want to write "Quality over quantity" and it is my contention that it takes Quantity to get to Quality. So that was where my comments focused.

On any of these I try to read what people say, and respond to it, keeping in mind it is a continuing dialogue. And a lot of them come to my attention through emails that say "so and so has commented on...." and I go to it and read it. I usually try to check what was said above and beneath it as well to keep things in context.

My entire point is that there are a lot of different songs for different reasons that have reasonated with the public over the years. And each decade or section of writing can find magnificence and silliness. The "Hey Micky" was just one of them. Just responding to that.

MAB


Who's to say that hey mickey lyric couldn't be turned into something great. Lyrics are just a small part of the overall product. David Bryne of talking heads recently said that Lyrics don't really matter. What matters is the overall song cadence and hook.

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 02:04 PM

View PostScotto, on 07 May 2012 - 12:40 PM, said:

View PostMABBO, on 07 May 2012 - 11:21 AM, said:

Lazz,

About halfway through these posts, Scotto posted about "forced writing" and quoted the song from the 80's, "Oh Micky You're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind, hey Micky..." I thought it was funny he used that song, so I posted the Beatles "Love Me Do." Not as a source of "forced writing" but just mentioning that even the Beatles, who are pretty much universally acclaimed as some of the greatest songwriter's in history, wrote things that were not quite lyrically genuis.

Then the conversation took off about the Beatles contribution to music. My overall point is always that the Beatles both together and separately, as well as most successful writers write a lot of songs. That has always been my focus on conversation. Many writers want to write "Quality over quantity" and it is my contention that it takes Quantity to get to Quality. So that was where my comments focused.

On any of these I try to read what people say, and respond to it, keeping in mind it is a continuing dialogue. And a lot of them come to my attention through emails that say "so and so has commented on...." and I go to it and read it. I usually try to check what was said above and beneath it as well to keep things in context.

My entire point is that there are a lot of different songs for different reasons that have reasonated with the public over the years. And each decade or section of writing can find magnificence and silliness. The "Hey Micky" was just one of them. Just responding to that.

MAB


Who's to say that hey mickey lyric couldn't be turned into something great. Lyrics are just a small part of the overall product. David Bryne of talking heads recently said that Lyrics don't really matter. What matters is the overall song cadence and hook.



Bryne's comments are pretty genre-specific...in some types of music lyrics are much less relevant (or in some cases completely irrelevant), in others lyrical content is critical.

You can't take one individual's comments and treat it as gospel truth, and apply it in broad brushstrokes across all styles of music. I try to always post disclaimers on my comments that they are based on my experience, and in some cases my opinion is just as ignorant and uninformed as some random person on the street - I certainly have no knowledge, for example, about rap or urban music. For the area of music Bryne works in, he could be 100% accurate...as for other styles of music, not so much. Johnny Mercer would tell him he's full of it ;-).

#43 User is offline   Lazz Icon

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 02:10 PM

Thanks guys,

I just was not at all familiar with "Hey Micky..." and had overlooked the context of Scotto's earlier post.
But I do enjoy the frivolous and silly.
And.
(Speaking as primarily a lyricist myself)
I believe I have to agree with David Byrne.
Hip Pocket Music

"It is the best of all trades to make songs...
and the second best to sing them"

Hillaire Belloc

“SONG is the joint art of words and music, two arts under emotional pressure coalescing into a third.
The relation and balance of the two arts is a problem that has to be resolved anew in every song that is composed.”

The Encyclopedia Britannica

#44 User is offline   Scotto Icon

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 05:10 PM

I was just being conversational. Not really painting in broad strokes or anything like that. Though I think lyrically strong and lyrically frivolous songs work in all genre's myself. (So there I painted a broad stroke and committed to it)

I'd qualify that by saying it's much easier to make a solidly lyrical song work over a whimsical one (at least for me).

That being said this Johnny Mercer Lyric might not be reviewed very well out of context of the song it is in...

Quote

There they were, there they were, he was baby-talkin‘ her
And the cuckoo in the clock went "Cuckoo!"
Every fifteen minutes he crew, "Cuckoo, cuckoo!"

"Be a pal, be a pal", said the fella to the gal
And the cuckoo in the clock went, "Cuckoo!
I believe they’re startin‘ to woo, woo-woo, woo-woo!"


In the context of the song it's an old time Glen Miller Classic. It swings and captures the age it came from. Which is my point really. Anything can work if done right and it isn't an exact science. Sometimes you just feel it in your bones.... shame no one else does when my bones tell me stuff HA HA!

That being said I actually think old Johnny would agree with Mr. Bryne (though he might not use those headline grabbing words). The context and time and so many other factors make a song memorable. It's a sum of all of its parts. "Hey Mickey your so fine" certainly worked in its day. It was all over the radio and played incessantly. You couldn't escape the damn thing. If I look at the artist I want to be well... I don't ever want to write a "Hey Mickey". Cuckoo in the Clock would be damn cool though...

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 07:54 AM

I started poking around and found a funny artictal about Bob Lefsetz.

My link
#1 song on Onstage.com's Holiday Playlist in Nov 2011 "Could This Be Christmas"
#5 song on Onstage.com's Open for Bon Jovi in May of 2010 "Turn It Down"
recorded and produced songs with several grammy winners and nominees
songs writen have been recorded by The Standard, Wooden Nickel, Jody Stapler and Prototype
see more of my music at charlieeschbach.com

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 04:51 PM

Thanks for that Charlie..A really good read.
I sooo wish i shared his taste in music more..

I'm sure he'd hate The Shangri-Las

But i love his idealism n his passion..
Wish there was someone with his fire n entertaining,insightful way of writing who's taste in music i loved -but you take what you can get to help you understand the world better...

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