Have You Ever Wondered…?
Jerry Lucky Commentary January 2014
Copyright Jerry Lucky © 2014 All Rights Reserved
Well here we are again…we made it through another year…we’ll all have to get used to writing 2014 on the cheques we write…what’s that? Oh yeah, we don’t write cheques anymore…this is the “new age” …and that’s got me thinking….
Have you ever wondered about the number of “one man bands in Progressive Rock Music?” It’s always been intriguing to me that Prog is such an “exclusive” genre of music, appealing to so few (relatively speaking) that it’s easy to see why this genre more than most would attract musical types who resort to doing it all themselves. Certainly with the advent of new software and new technology the idea of being able to do it all yourself has become easier and easier. Just like there are more prog bands around today, I’m going to suggest there are more “one-man-bands” out there today. Folks with a unique vision of how they want their music to sound and talented enough to execute it all. The question of – How good it sounds? – will always be in the background, but there is no denying the opportunity that exists to make it happen. But this should not strike us as odd, particularly within the progressive rock genre. As was pointed out to me recently, music has always been composed by a few for others to play. So now that we have the tools to do it ourselves, why wouldn’t we expect to see more multi-instrumentalist solo artists taking full control? We can argue the merits of the band structure for pushing the creative structure till we’re “blue in the face” but as for how good it all sounds, well, in the end it comes down to the ability of the one in charge.
Have you ever wondered about whether an artist’s best music is created when they’re young and ambitious or when they’re wiser and more experienced? Those who promote the former would have many examples to point to in the contemporary world of pop/rock music while those who would suggest the latter might have an equally large group of artists to point to in other genres. I was listening to the IQ commentary for the 30th anniversary remix of Tales From the Lush Attic and they remarked on how fast the playing was back then, and certainly that is a hallmark of youth; doing things fast because you can, even if that means playing twice as many notes as possible to prove yourself. There is something to be said for youth, its optimism, its exuberance, its naiveté. That feeling that you can do anything, your whole life is ahead of you. How will you ever know it’s a mistake until you are older? The counter-point to all of that youth-talk is of course what’s gained from experience and through the inevitable process of aging, one hopes, wisdom. As you age, you change, things mellow as you experience life and you inevitably see life from a larger expanded viewpoint. If I go back to the group IQ, there is no denying they are more skilled at their craft in 2014 than they were in 1983. Which brings up the question – what changes? To my mind it comes down to your life-experiences. What happens to you shapes you as a person and as you continue to express yourself musically, your music changes. Sometimes as fans we want our heroes to stay locked in a time-warp and keep giving us what shaped our own life experiences and yet, life moves on. Time changes us. We all mature, even baby-boomers who fight tooth and nail to stay young inevitably wake up one morning and find themselves old. It is the way of things. Personally, I don’t think it’s an either/or question. I think some artists produce their best stuff when they’re young and others when they’re older. As the listener the trick is maturing to know which is which.
Have you ever wondered about why it takes so long to make a record? It’s been said you will gather the amount of stuff to fill the space you have. By extrapolation I would suggest you will take the amount of time to do something based on the amount of time you have been given. Another words, as I heard the members of IQ say recently, if you have 3 hours to write new lyrics to a section of a song you are working you will get it done in 3 hours. If on the other hand you have 3 months to do it, chances are you will likely take 3 months. So when a band takes years to come up with the next release, I’m guessing there is more at play than just the creative cycle. After all the Beatles were able to “come up” with some very good material while they were SITTING IN THE STUDIO. Artists like Manning give us an album of music a year. And then Robin Taylor sometimes gives up two releases! Sometimes the time between releases is out of our hands. The one album may get finished and then there’s the promotion, the tours, the interviews and then the Prog music business being what it is, there may be the day job. All of these things can certainly impact on how quickly the next album comes about. Still when I see what full time bands were able to do in the sixties and even the seventies I do begin to wonder when it took Genesis sometimes three years to produce a new album. Clearly it wasn’t that they couldn’t, it was more likely they just didn’t need to or want to.
So that’s all. I thought I’d start the new year wondering about stuff. I may return to this theme from time to time and if there are things you’re wondering about don’t be afraid to drop me a line. I always appreciate hearing from readers and getting your feedback. At least that’s what I’m thinking.