Listening to a new recording by uber producer Emile Haynie featuring Andrew Wyatt and Brian Wilson, two things came to mind: How everything old is new again, that Brian Wilson is somewhere on the multi-tracked vocals of the track and how the Beach Boy is, suddenly, the musical plat de jour what with that star-studded and hugely irrelevant gagfest coming together to sing his beautiful “God Only Knows.”
Dragging out these legends is usually cause for concern as it reeks of some weird need for credibility and despite the fact that the genius of Brian Wilson ended with “Pet Sounds” in the Sixties.
Listening to “Falling Apart”, this new 2014 song makes one realise just how many very good pop songs have fallen through the tracks with no one around to pick them up, dust them off and put them back on the sunny side of the street and what a piss poor job music companies do in minting and marketing their enormous back-catalogues filled with brilliant music every bit as good as the recordings of Emile Haynie, and many hundreds of thousands of “current hits”.
The Beach Boys were known for their brand of “Sunshine Pop” which has been re-released and box re-released and reheated and re-Boxed and enhanced re-leased on so many releases that is actually The Beach Boys All Time Greatest Hits.
Ignored and lost in the shuffle is so much very good pop music that is not from the usual “catalogue artists” like Bowie, Lennon, McCartney, the Stones etc whose biggest hits have been repackaged and released to dupe music fans into thinking their collection by these brilliant artists are incomplete without purchasing more of the same.
Lost to an entire generation, maybe even two, are, for example, the good time songs of John Sebastian which became massive hits for the Lovin’ Spoonful- “Do You Believe In Magic”, “Nashville Cats”, “Summer In The City”- finely crafted songs that flowed so effortlessly for the songwriter’s easy-going vocals.
While John Sebastian and his Lovin Spoonful had their all-too short burst of hits, in the UK, Donovan had managed to rid himself of his denim cap and dubious title of being “the new Dylan” with simple, pretty folk songs like “Catch The Wind” and “Colours”.
This musical metamorphosis happened with his recording of “Sunshine Superman”, one of those hippie dippy song replete with an underlying Eastern-influence and Donovan’s fey vocals.
That led to a number of hits, some good, some bad- very bad- like the daft “Mellow Yellow” and “Hurdy Gurdy Man”.
This was until Robbie Robertson turned Martin Scorsese onto his beautiful “Atlantis”, which was used so brilliantly in the most brutal scene in “Goodfellas”- a great movie with a soundtrack that captured the darkness and doom of those anti-heroes.
The songs of Harry Nilsson, Badfinger, Ray Davies, John Phillips, Lindsay Buckingham- the list is endless- are unknown to so many trying to create what they hope is something new- songwriters from whose songs they can learn so much. It was never formulaic crap.
Today, one can listen, for example, to the songs of Chris Martin for Coldplay, or even his songs for Rihanna, and hear “the formula” of two verses with some obscure/absurd words strung together and held together by that whiny voice, the obligatory falsetto bit when you sing along not knowing what the fuck it means, and then jumping up and down to the big “Whoah uh oh” singalong.
Sometimes, I think Chris Martin was Snow Patrol and Richard Marx is Chris Martin.
Like Katy Perry regurgitating “Roar” with new videos featuring the same song, but with bigger tits, it’s “Yellow” all over again with different time changes by, like will i am, one of the most overrated- but hugely successful- musicians.
With Chris Martin- and he’s a very nice guy- the most noticeable changes since those “Yellow” days have been his hair and teeth. It’s a remarkable makeover. It’s like Austen Powers re-emerging as a Pop Star.
A singer friend of mine asked me some time ago if the world already had enough music- the songs of Tin Pan Alley, the Brill Building, Lennon, McCartney and Harrison, Bacharach and David, Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer, Jimmy Webb, Leon Russell, Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Don Henley etc and then the songs themselves- everything from “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”, “Yesterday”, “Imagine” and “Hallelujah” to “Fields Of Gold”, “Rolling In The Deep”, “A Christmas Song”, “Moon River” and “Empire State Of Mind”.
Well, my friend is a singer who interprets songs. She has tried to write songs and given up much too quickly.
While she only recently discovered songs like Julia Fordham’s “Happily Ever After” and Beverley Craven’s “Promise Me”, and now realises that one song by Joni Mitchell has more depth to it than every song by Taylor Swift put together and that with her “Happy Pills”, Miss Norah Jones has a dark side, this has to do with simply not having anyone to introduce her to what’s come before.
It’s like new songwriters writing new songs without doing some much-needed homework be of lacking that passion to learn more about the originals.
Like the great contemporary film makers who were inspired by Hitchcock, Kurosawa, Sergio Leone, John Cassavetes etc, way too many musicians are learning their craft by listening to copyists, or, worse, contestants on television karaoke competitions and desperate for those fifteen minutes of fame.
It’s bad home schooling in music and too many missing a huge part of that education by not taking up a course in that Old School.
And no, there is never enough of music in the world.
Meanwhile, to you out there, Happy Birthday. I never ever stopped loving you- though I had a funny way of showing and hiding it.
Chairman and CEO
We-Enhance Inc and Fast Track Global Ltd