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Re: Fleeing from the past/racing towards the future

Posted: 06 Jul 2017, 20:37
by toomanyhatz
That's the thing - the idea of using the same equipment or same sound or even the same style in some visual way feels like pretending that's all there is to it - why I used the word "fetishizing." It's a common complaint of mine. Bands get reviewed for having the 'right influences' when if they were TRULY influenced by those people, they'd do what they did - which was create something based in the culture that they are part of, as opposed to a second-hand 'reading' of the past. Further complicated by the fact that everything's available at your fingertips now. Hard to be influenced by the atmosphere in which it was originally created, 'cause it's not a result of many, often contradictory conditions - it's just a matter of pushing a button.

Re: Fleeing from the past/racing towards the future

Posted: 06 Jul 2017, 20:45
by Quaco
Also, everything is permanent now. If a band does something, we all immediately know and can point to and bring up on Spotify its exact antecedents. While in 1967, you could copy George Formby, Robert Johnson, or Chuck Berry and nobody would mind. "England's Newest Hitmakers"? A new group, but the music wasn't new at all.

Re: Fleeing from the past/racing towards the future

Posted: 06 Jul 2017, 21:07
by sloopjohnc
Bride Of Sea Of Tunes wrote:I for one wouldn't want to know what memories and deep and dark forces drive Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, or Radiohead, for certain.


:lol:

Re: Fleeing from the past/racing towards the future

Posted: 06 Jul 2017, 21:12
by take5_d_shorterer
Bent Fabric wrote:If we were to specifically look at the second half of the 20th Century (and outlying) as an accelerated period in popular music, you could really observe a lot of people fairly hung up on getting into the now/the future/etc.


"Nothing dates faster than people's fantasies about the future."

--Robert Hughes on Brasilia from The Shock of the New

Re: Fleeing from the past/racing towards the future

Posted: 07 Jul 2017, 00:36
by Charlie O.
Quaco wrote:... people forgot how to write songs. Thus, the equipment and totems become more important than the material.

There is that.

Re: Fleeing from the past/racing towards the future

Posted: 07 Jul 2017, 06:55
by Bent Fabric
Quaco wrote:My theory is that, either through too much technology, misunderstanding the punk revolution, or just enough temporal distance having passed, people forgot how to write songs. Thus, the equipment and totems become more important than the material. Alas, they are now graded on a curve based on contemporaneous releases, and we all pay lip service to older material -- partially in order to seem knowledgeable -- so some new Rundgren-, Sabbath-, or Byrds-influenced artist can admit to his influences and create lesser material at once..


I think it's entirely possible that a person with good intentions can fundamentally misdiagnose a problem.

They're not playing your/my favorite song on the radio anymore? "Maybe it's the tubes!" "Try a Wurlitzer through a Univox!"

Car won't start? "Do you have a Leslie? Can we record it at 15 ips?"

Asshole president? "But it's a 12 string Rick!"

I know a guy - totally the sort of person of whom phrases like 'Oh, he's a totally nice guy" are sort of introductory and qualifying. In his home studio (where people have occasionally made some meaningful music) there is a bottle of Blue Nun on top of the Leslie speaker in tribute to the happy accident that created the effect on the end of the Beatles'' "Long Long Long". I don't know how irksome I find this, but it is symbolic, and there is something about always wanting to be the second person to do a thing rather than to (even once) be the first to do another (possibly lesser, but nonetheless unique and unprecedented) thing that may sadden me just a bit (Hatz' touches on this upthread).

I'm probably increasingly (as I soften with old age) sympathetic to that type of point missing. It scarcely affects me personally (in whatever way I might have once believed it to), and there but for the grace of God go I. I think seemingly retrograde artistic choices can be made on some objectively sound basis - an especially grainy palette might flatter the material/performances better than an overly articulated and "exposed" transparency (like a photographer using different lenses/lighting/darkroom techniques). Someone like the guy from Maroon 5 blithely rhapsodizing about "fucking tape and fucking microphones" on the Grammy Awards hopefully won't ruin the intrinsic virtue and character of those tools for people who seemingly have an altogether more fundamental, organic, germane purpose for their actual effects. Mr. Mister used tape - and the Bo Deans undoubtedly used beautiful vintage guitars: this I say as an illustration of the oft stated truism that the tools are so DEEPLY secondary to...you know..."purpose" I guess. There's a lot of people out there who have it within them to employ all sorts of tools and techniques to (ultimately) no more effective a means than a little baby/toddler walking around in Mommy or Daddy's shoes.

There's a place a mile or so from my house where the instruments and technology exist to sort of re-enact something like The Royal Scam or Hermit of Mink Hollow - as a goal, that's obviously a complete fucking dead end, but...a person COULD enter a place like that with a unique perspective and compelling voice/style and some resonant original ideas and we'd all agree that those tools were ultimately put to good use.

Now, a number of us have sort of identified the "problem of influence" (a person basically flying all of these flags that basically say "Recommended if you like..."...equipment, totems, stylistic references) - I would definitely posit that the tools and totems only become an annoyance when the beautiful gift box is opened to reveal nothing of value. Just as the tokens are not inherently good, they are also not inherently bad (apart, perhaps, from their systematic abuse ultimately [inevitably?] leading to their role as shorthand for "lack of valuable content").

Re: Fleeing from the past/racing towards the future

Posted: 07 Jul 2017, 16:00
by Davey the Fat Boy
I don't know if people forgot how to write songs. I think they just stopped valuing them.

You could point to a lot of forks in the road that got us to this place. The moment when Dylan and the Beatles convinced every artist after them that they could (and should) write their own songs was the flash point. This had the effect of A) lowering the collective standards around what a good song was, B) forced most professional songwriters out of the business, C) made the remaining pro songwriters more desperate and less willing to take chances, and D) brought on the era of "studio soundscaping" to largely hide the lack of songs.

From there you pass through psychedelia (extreme soundscaping), disco (professionalized soundscaping that emphasizes beat over song craft), punk (seemingly a return to songs, but in truth it put delivery style front and center above the song), and hip hop (All beats and collage. No more need for melody or really songs at all).

Now the technology has rendered everyone a potential singular auteur. All of these developments (and many that I've glossed over) were heralded as progress in their moment. But none of them really made music better. They've just accumulated to make music less crucial to our culture.

Re: Fleeing from the past/racing towards the future

Posted: 07 Jul 2017, 16:12
by Quaco
Bent Fabric wrote:I know a guy - totally the sort of person of whom phrases like 'Oh, he's a totally nice guy" are sort of introductory and qualifying. In his home studio (where people have occasionally made some meaningful music) there is a bottle of Blue Nun on top of the Leslie speaker in tribute to the happy accident that created the effect on the end of the Beatles'' "Long Long Long". I don't know how irksome I find this, but it is symbolic, and there is something about always wanting to be the second person to do a thing rather than to (even once) be the first to do another (possibly lesser, but nonetheless unique and unprecedented) thing that may sadden me just a bit (Hatz' touches on this upthread).

That would be cool if it were the bottle, but ...

Re: Fleeing from the past/racing towards the future

Posted: 07 Jul 2017, 16:23
by Quaco
Davey the Fat Boy wrote:I don't know if people forgot how to write songs. I think they just stopped valuing them.

You could point to a lot of forks in the road that got us to this place. The moment when Dylan and the Beatles convinced every artist after them that they could (and should) write their own songs was the flash point. This had the effect of A) lowering the collective standards around what a good song was, B) forced most professional songwriters out of the business, C) made the remaining pro songwriters more desperate and less willing to take chances, and D) brought on the era of "studio soundscaping" to largely hide the lack of songs.

From there you pass through psychedelia (extreme soundscaping), disco (professionalized soundscaping that emphasizes beat over song craft), punk (seemingly a return to songs, but in truth it put delivery style front and center above the song), and hip hop (All beats and collage. No more need for melody or really songs at all).

Now the technology has rendered everyone a potential singular auteur. All of these developments (and many that I've glossed over) were heralded as progress in their moment. But none of them really made music better. They've just accumulated to make music less crucial to our culture.

The reason I think they forgot is that every so often an artist comes along who really tries to do it the old-fashioned way -- it's clear they are really trying to write great songs in the old vein (Lemon Twigs, The Shins, etc.), and I still don't buy it. There's something wrong somehow. And there's better hooks in bands like Pink Floyd or The Doors, neither of which being what you'd call "classic songwriting" bands.

I do agree with your points above though. I think the proximity in time to showtune songwriting is a big one. I think people who are interested in classic songwriting -- influence check: Nilsson, Beatles, C. King, Beach Boys -- think they are doing it, but mostly aren't. Just my opinionated opinion though.

Re: Fleeing from the past/racing towards the future

Posted: 07 Jul 2017, 16:30
by George P. Smackers
One side issue that's come up about fetishizing past eras-- I remember it was common to complain in the punk/post-punk/New Wave era that hippies (1966-1974, I guess) had no sense of history.

But they did, it was just kind of weird. You had the Charlatans (SF) dressing up in their Wild West get-ups, silly Paul Revere and the Raiders outfits, all the Bonnie and Clyde fashion after the 1967 movie. And we can't forget Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, with the nostalgia for British brass-band stuff and Music Hall, and then McCartney's subsequent old-timey stuff.

What was different in the 1980s, as I remember them, was a fetishizing of in-the-know accuracy. I remember walking in Soho New York in the late 80s, and it had become a kind of game: "there goes a chick with a very specific take on the late spring of 1973!"

The 60s historical sense was more fantastic, like a classic Hollywood movie that just doesn't care about anachronisms, as long as they look good or satisfy some need.

Re: Fleeing from the past/racing towards the future

Posted: 07 Jul 2017, 16:32
by George P. Smackers
delete

Re: Fleeing from the past/racing towards the future

Posted: 07 Jul 2017, 17:21
by Bent Fabric
Quaco wrote:Every so often an artist comes along who really tries to do it the old-fashioned way -- it's clear they are really trying to write great songs in the old vein (Lemon Twigs, The Shins, etc.), and I still don't buy it. There's something wrong somehow. And there's better hooks in bands like Pink Floyd or The Doors, neither of which being what you'd call "classic songwriting" bands.

I think people who are interested in classic songwriting -- influence check: Nilsson, Beatles, C. King, Beach Boys -- think they are doing it, but mostly aren't. Just my opinionated opinion though.


Certainly my belief. There's something stuffy, pointless, lofty, delusional and ultimately very wrongheaded about a creative person who believes they are "continuing on in the grand tradition of...".

Build your own sandcastle, you know? Yeah - I'd be thrilled if we/they were all executing at some "Wichita Lineman" level every time out, but...I can think of no surer way to profoundly miss that particular mark than to deliberately and rigidly "aspire to the standards of".

My acquaintance with the Blue Nun bottle on the Leslie seems less problematic than the guy attempting to build the little miniature model car versions of Brill Building era masterpieces. Because, for one thing (and I'm far from the first person to say it on this thread), do we really think Burt Bacharach was pining for some more legitimate era of "real music" while he had ten songs in the top 100?

Fuck. Your mention of the likes of the Doors and Pink Floyd is perfectly illustrative of a less "stuck thinking" approach to music making - the songs, the record, the sound, the character of the people making it, all of this lightning in a bottle...I was personally thinking of something like Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band's Safe As Milk as an example of the sort of 'What might happen if a collective of people with strong, unique and compelling personalities just expressed themselves in some relatively unfiltered and unchecked way?" I hate to use people that some of us may know as shorthand here, but - let it be said - I will never get excited about an Aimee Mann/Jon Brion/Rufus Wainwright record the way that I do about "Astronomy Domine" or "I Feel Love".

Re: Fleeing from the past/racing towards the future

Posted: 07 Jul 2017, 17:41
by Bride Of Sea Of Tunes
Great, great posts -

you people are trying to identify something invisible, intangible, inaudible... that certain je ne sais quoi that seems to be absent in the popular arts.

I myself am pretty much convinced that it is a spiritual (divine?) phenomenon, that won't ever reveal itself in full, or even for a considerable part.

But the efforts to do so are really gifts in themselves. They are beautiful, and thus useful too.

As I tried to express: IMHO there's something deeply amiss in human communities. Which is tied to the politico-economical climate of today.

But please go on. This will be the first thread that I will copy in full to Word, to enjoy reading late at night.

Re: Fleeing from the past/racing towards the future

Posted: 07 Jul 2017, 17:42
by toomanyhatz
I don't LIKE being that old guy shaking my fist at the young people on my lawn saying "nice SOUNDSCAPES, kids, but WHERE'S THE SONG?" Yet here we are. Not that there's a side of me that doesn't think "hey, they've really got that 'sound of '65' DOWN." Just find it an odd life goal. It's been done.

Re: Fleeing from the past/racing towards the future

Posted: 07 Jul 2017, 18:05
by Bent Fabric
Davey the Fat Boy wrote:...made the remaining pro songwriters more desperate and less willing to take chances...


I can get with this - a person "trying to keep their gig" and a person "expressing/'gambling on' themselves in some way" are not likely to be one and the same. You compare the "Wrecking Crew era works for hire" with the sort of "guys who propped up Bryan Adams, late model Aerosmith, Taylor Dayne, et. al." and, all qualitative judgments aside, there is a FAR "safer" and more "rote" aspect to the quality of the hackwork. For lack of a better word, it increasingly manages to be less "out" and less "modern" than, say, "California Girls" (not a work for hire, but certainly a fine example of a certain boldness that I think we can all admire).

Re: Fleeing from the past/racing towards the future

Posted: 07 Jul 2017, 18:11
by Bent Fabric
toomanyhatz wrote:Not that there's a side of me that doesn't think "hey, they've really got that 'sound of '65' DOWN." Just find it an odd life goal. It's been done.


If any of us had an opportunity to a) buy a record from a person that approximated the sort of clanging "Boyce and Hart running the sessions era Monkees" (of "She" and "Saturday's Child") sound or to b) just turn up the radio when the Monkees came on, there's no way in hell you or I would opt for the reenactment.

Re: Fleeing from the past/racing towards the future

Posted: 07 Jul 2017, 18:29
by Bent Fabric
"Soundscapes"!


















Re: Fleeing from the past/racing towards the future

Posted: 07 Jul 2017, 18:35
by Bride Of Sea Of Tunes
^^ Great call!

Re: Fleeing from the past/racing towards the future

Posted: 07 Jul 2017, 18:37
by Bride Of Sea Of Tunes
I have a book by David Toop (Ocean Of Sound), he devotes nice words to the creators of soundscapes, highly personal 'webs of sounds', Brian Wilson, Phil Spector, and Lee Perry are all mentioned.

Re: Fleeing from the past/racing towards the future

Posted: 07 Jul 2017, 18:46
by Bent Fabric
My own life would be so much lesser without these (and so many other - many subsequent) impressionistic works of art.