As we galloped into the Lunar New Year of the Horse after saying adieu to the Snake year, I read the news today, and, oh boy…
The gang rapes in New Delhi are allowed to carry on as if some every day occurrence, a kid in the same state of India is bashed and killed for “looking Chinese”, endangered species are slaughtered for no reason and, in music, there’s a roaring silence after the Grammies and, being just another outdated “celebration of music”, it might as well have been called The Gummies. It just never roared uh uh uh uh uh uh.
Few seem to care about anything anymore and with music- all that free music mantra having devalued it- being very low on the pecking order.
Care and caring- really caring and not being as fake as orgasms just so you can be left alone to sleep- and men can fake them,too- are the two key words missing while there exists a warped idea of life’s priorities.
There was a time when the healing power of music worked with everything else to help try and cure the ills of the world- not all those do-gooder concerts with the usual suspects which just seem like grandstanding and money laundering- but real songs with real passion and, yes, real caring.
It’s there with John Lennon singing Woman and celebrating the love for a woman, it’s there in Power To The People about People Power before there even was People Power and it’s there in the words of Imagine which really should have been what Woodstock was never about.
Woodstock was a much-hyped romp in the mud at Yasgur’s farm for some addled deadheads on acid.
Imagine said it all in three minutes without the media hype, the Michael Winner film of the “historic music event” and wire services photos of naked chicks in the throes of some tribal dance to Santana’s Black Magic Woman.
Like Imagine, same about the power of music and the caring heard in songs like Blowing In The Wind, The Times They Are-A-Changing, A Change Is Gonna Come, Abraham, Martin and John and fast-forward to today and, thankfully, the music of Adele.
What makes Adele different to, let’s say, Lorde, is honesty, caring and being real.
Is it just me or is there a right royal difference between the promo pics of and video for Royals to the dark Lorde’s appearance at the Grammys where she performed with a nervous tic affliction?
To me, from the names of these two artists to their publicity photos, the videos, and the songs, there are a million credible miles between Adele and Lorde as in the faked out soul of Robin Thicke and the choreographed dramas of all those media-made celebrities with nothing of any substance to offer.
One torch light at the end of a pretty bleak tunnel was hearing that bass guitarist and extraordinary producer Don Was now heads up Blue Note. Well, he has since 2012.
Though the now-retired and legendary Bruce Lundvell was and still is a great music guy who did so much for Blue Note, these days, having a real musician with a proven track record being a music executive and not some accountant, lawyer, hack sales guy or a bovine private equity creep like Guy Hands, below, is something that’s been a long time coming.
Sure, there’s been Jimmy Iovine who runs Interscope and paid his dues working as a producer and engineer for some of the biggest artists in the world, but his appearances on American Idol seemed stilted and scripted whereas he seems to have become tired, old and too comfortable.
Too much success and money, numbs the soul and takes away the passion.
Jermaine Dupri being brought in to head up Virgin America alongside Jason Flom- a terrible management move- to keep then-girlfriend Janet Jackson happy and stay with the label never ever worked.
The record he produced for her was an almighty and expensive flop, the couple split and Dupri, who didn’t seem to give a damn about working for the very white bread EMI Music label, went back to producing his brand of urban music.
Don Was, however, could be a very different kettle of halibut and what a label like Blue Note needs in 2014.
Blue Note really hasn’t had a commercial hit since Norah Jones, a singer still to really receive the plaudits she deserves for being a ballsy risk taker and far more than “Snorah” Jones asking listeners to come away with her.
Norah Jones truly CARES about her art, hates the trappings of being a “star” and who has sung on some incredibly, well, cool tracks for the Nip/Tuck soundtrack whereas her last record produced by Danger Mouse showed her unafraid to explore her dark side while her collaboration with Green Day’s Billy Joe Armstrong on an album of Everly Brothers hits came and went with zero marketing to promote it.
Then again, Miss Jones loathes marketing.
Hopefully, we’ll be seeing Don Was becoming more involved in the artists on the current Blue Note and Manhattan rosters- I wonder if the underrated Amos Lee is still with them- and, at the same time, help bring in other music executives who, sure, understand the importance of numbers and balance sheets and making money for each quarter, but also understand the difference between a major and minor key, sharps and flats and care enough to look at music from a global perspective and why many new artists are falling through the cracks.
The setup last year of Blue Note/Artist Share bringing music fans into the creative and A&R process is a great move and one that should have been started long by a music company before Pledge, Kickstarter and all the other fan-funded “labels” sprung up.
Still, Blue Note/Artist Share is now part of the “fan club”- and better late than never.
Finally, to understand both what’s very wrong with this world and the caring of music fans, do please make the time to read the very tragic story with this band from Australia.