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Viewing Posts in March 2009

The wisdom of George Michael

 0 Comments- Add comment Written on 17-Mar-2009 by ewencadenmoore

Well, it’s been a while since I wrote anything here. Nothing on the amount of time between latter issues of Hearsay, of course, but still a bit too long. Having said that, mind you, I have absolutely no idea if anyone is reading this.


I find the concept of blogging very odd. Some blogs that I regularly check, particularly those belonging to singer-songwriters I love, seem to get updated so infrequently that they hardly contain news at all. More often than not the most recent post is the one promoting ‘my new album’ nine months or more down the line. Equally, I have a few artistic/creative friends who blog, and I look at these to get a sense of what they’ve been up to. These blogs seem to get updated almost daily and I can’t take it all in - it’s a case of information overload.


It’s very hard to write without any idea of your audience, or even if there is one. Some people blog for the outside world, others seem to do it as an exercise for themselves, an aide to getting their thoughts in order. If I had the career of a Hearsay-style songwriter I think I’d want to use my blog as a machine for really giving dedicated fans an insight into works in progress. I’d write once a week and say things like “we had the string sessions for the new album this afternoon. The arrangements were going to be done by the world renowned Nelson Riddell but at the last minute I decided to have a go at doing them myself. You’ll hear the results sometime later this summer but, I have to say, they soar like a rainbow.”


If any reader out there knows anyone Hearsay-esque who genuinely blogs in this way then please do drop me a line and let me know. I’d love to read great musician blogs because I love the whole process of how music is made.


Of course, the whole concept of ‘my new album’ many months (or even years) down the line is a curiously modern phenomenon. I find it fantastically strange that in this day of instant downloading, the democracy of the internet, artists taking control of their careers and all of that, that it actually takes people so much longer to make and release music than it used to. I have here beside me a biography of Dolly Parton, complete with album discography. To pick but one random year, in 1970 the estimable Ms Parton released six albums – in February, March, April, July, August and November. Even accounting for the fact that one of those was a greatest hits set and another was a live album, that’s still the kind of output that is utterly unimaginable today. 


I understand how, at the height of the major label era during the 1980s and 1990s, it was deemed commercially necessary to make an expensive album, release six singles from it and tour it right around the world before taking time off and then starting writing the next one. But surely no creative artist actually liked working like that? Surely the creative people are, by definition, creative. They want to create. They burst with ideas. Now that so many great Hearsay-esque artists have their careers in their own hands, why aren’t they making music? Lots of music! All kinds of music! Where are the string quartets, the rock operas, the demo collections? Sadly, it hasn’t really happened like that.


Actually, I wonder if too much freedom might be bad for the artist. Now people can make whatever records they want whenever they want, record cheaply and professionally at home, release instantly via the internet, it’s all a bit daunting. After all, Hearsay is exactly the same. I now have a forum to write whatever article I wish whenever I want to write it and publish it instantly. I could review any album I wanted. It doesn’t even have to be new. I could write an article tracing the use of religious metaphor in the works of Leonard Cohen or the use of the synthesizer in the albums of seminal singer-songwriters during the 1980s. And what do I actually write? Barely anything.


The internet is a strange thing – too much information is available to us and yet not nearly as much as we sometimes want. Too much music is suddenly available at the click of a mouse and yet people aren’t producing half as much as we really wish they would. Maybe, to bring proceedings to a very clumsy close with a totally unnecessary and conservative song reference, George Michael was right when he sang “I don’t want your freedom.”
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