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May 29, 2007


Tim J.

"Maybe the culture is starting to turn away from rap."

Well, our culture turns away from everything, eventually. It's almost what defines us... we're the culture of "the next big thing". The Attention Deficit culture.

I have to say that I can appreciate rap as a legitimate art form when it is actually used creatively and when isn't just a vehicle for obscenity or vapid materialism.

The whole pimps/hos/gonna x u out thing can't die fast enough, though.


The music industry is dying because they're promoting values which their market rejects.

Maybe if they listened to their customers' viewpoints and stopped trying to be a propaganda machine, they'd actually sell music!

Brian Day

1) Poor talent = cr*ppy music
2) High prices encourages pirating. (This is also true for computer software.)

Why would I want to spend ~ $15 for a CD when there is only one or two good songs on the album.

3)Social activism. Just Shut Up and Sing. (I'm talking to you, Dixie Chicks, Cheryl Crow)

If iTunes can sell a single song for $0.99, when why can't I get a quantity discount for a whole album? Drop the price of a CD to around $7 and I guarantee you that sales would go through the roof. A lot of people will put up with mediocre music if it not expensive.

Oh, and do you activism behind the scenes, not on the stage. I might not agree with your views, but I will respect that you are working to solve problems.



>>>The music industry is dying because they're promoting values which their market rejects.

I really hope you're right about that, BobCatholic. I guess there are other elements of pop culture that make me more cynical about our culture's "values".

When I heard Rod Stewart crooning old American standards a few years back, I wondered whether the half century-old rock'n'roll juggernaut might finally be slowing down. I guess it's still too soon to say, but the dearth of creativity mentioned in the article is hardly new. IMHO the band Nirvana was the last gasp of pop music creativity. Since then we've watched the "Alternative" music they popularized run out of gas, rap music sink ever deeper into a cesspool and have been innundated with manufactured boy-bands and cookie-cutter jailbait pop tarts. The latter two in particular are sure signs that American pop music is stagnant.

"American Idol" appeared to breathe new life into the dying music industry, but I guess it just put the industry on life support or something. It's still apparently dying.

As the article says, file sharing is largely what's killing the music industry. Times have changed since the 1960's when the album format took over. Most albums tended to have maybe three or four good songs at the most - the rest just filler. Still, if you wanted all the good songs you had to buy the whole "package" and many people were willing to do that. Now with file sharing I think people figure, "Why do I have to buy an expensive CD, more than 50% of which I won't even listen to, when I can buy (or illegally download) only the songs I *really* want and not pay nearly as much?"

That's why albums on CD are dying. If the music industry were smart it would return to the "singles" format that dominated prior to the 1960's. That's got to be the way to go in the era of the music download. If they still want to stick with CD's, perhaps record companies should consider offering "custom" CD's - the customers chose ten or so songs they like by current or even past artists and order them online, A week or so later, they receive a custom CD from the company by snail mail, containing only the songs they chose. That might work to an extent at least. The technology has been available for about a decade now.

In Jesu et Maria,


>>>Why would I want to spend ~ $15 for a CD when there is only one or two good songs on the album.

Thank you for illustrating my point, Brian! :-)

In Jesu et Maria,


>3)Social activism. Just Shut Up and Sing. (I'm talking to you, Dixie Chicks, Cheryl Crow)

That's right. These are professional musicians, they should ACT professional. No trying to indoctrinate us with their music. We're not interested.

The quicker that the music industry realizes they're not supposed to be a propaganda machine, the quicker they'll recover.


"Maybe the culture is starting to turn away from [C]rap." Emphasis mine.

Have you listened to the radio lately, regardless of whether it's rap, rock, or pop? I've heard middle school concert bands who can play songs with greater musicality. Those same middle schoolers could write more deeply about the human condition.

It's probably way too early in the thread to launch a grenade like this next comment, but I'm lacking restraint today: the same two problems plague the music heard at many Masses across the country (just substitute God/Faith for the human condition). Actually, the reason many hymns don't express any depth about the Faith is because they're focused too much on the human condition.

Maybe it's a democracy thing (warning these are my completely uneducated thoughts, I have no facts to back them up). Back when classical music was the pop music of the day you had to be rich to get an education in music. The field was limited, and you had to study music as your vocation. Now everyone receives music education and everyone thinks they're a professional, or worse, an "artist." Don't get me wrong, I think it's great to give everyone an education in music (I benefited from participating in band at all levels of my schooling). I'd just like to see the bar for acceptable public music raised a little.

Paul H

I think that the record companies need to lower the prices. I can't say for sure, but I suspect that I might actually spend more money per month on music if the prices were around $5 per CD instead of around $15 per CD like they are now, for older CDs -- say for any CD over about five years old.

There are a LOT of CDs out there that I would gladly pay $5 for, but that I would never pay $15 for -- either because I don't like the music quite enough to justify the extra $10, or because I don't want to take a chance on not liking the CD and having wasted $15. (But wasting $5 here and there wouldn't be such a big deal, if it also meant that I found a few gems that I wouldn't have taken a chance on at $15.) I'm a big fan of music, and I have probably at least 700 CDs in my collection, in a variety of different musical genres. Yet I have reached the point where now I probably only spend about $15 to $20 per month on new music, on average, because there just isn't all that much out there that I want to spend $15 per CD on. But I wouldn't be surprised to find myself spending $25 to $30 per month if they dropped the price to around $5 per CD on older CDs (because I would probably still buy roughly one new CD per month at $15, plus two or three old ones at $5 each), though admittedly that level of spending might not be sustainable, since after a year or so I might begin to exhaust the supply of obvious choices to add to my collection.

Another thing that may help, and that I think a lot of bands are doing already, is including extras with the official release that you can't get as easily through an illegal download. For example, Dream Theater (a progressive metal band, and one of my favorite bands) is releasing two versions of their upcoming album. One is just the CD, and the other is the CD plus a bonus DVD containing a "making of" documentary plus all of the songs mixed in 5.1 surround sound. Therefore, many die hard fans will spend a few extra bucks to get the version with the bonus DVD, which may help at least somewhat to offset the loss from people who will obtain an illegal copy of the CD without buying either version. I don't know how many bands take this approach to their releases, but I do know that it is becoming a common approach among progressive rock bands (admittedly a small, niche genre). If this approach is not widely used already, then it probably should be.

But of course, the biggest problem with the music industry, in my opinion, is that they are selling a bad product. I don't listen to "popular" music much these days, but what little I do hear is very poor quality, in my not-so-humble opinion. With our modern culture, where there are hundreds of TV channels, millions of web sites, etc., I think that the record companies need to stop thinking in terms of marketing a relatively small number of artists or albums to the public as a whole, hoping to find a few big hit songs or albums. Instead, I think they need to start marketing a much larger and more diverse number of artists and albums, and market them to smaller and more diverse groups of listeners. And instead of trying to find the big hit that sweeps the nation, try to cultivate audiences for various genres of music, and try to find smaller hits within each of those genres.

OK, enough rambling from me. :-)

Rap is over. That means such romantic moments as Nas'
"Get Urself a Gun" are over. Bucolic pastorales like Mobb Deep's insight... " what's the deal deal, never leave home without your steal steal"....such breakthroughs are gone. And what of Nelly's insights into tooth decorations in Grillz with that poignant refrain... "rob a jewelry store and tell him to make me a grill". (And Pope Benedict thought Bob Dylan was a problem (has Benedict not read the editing of his Mozart's vulgarities prior to his letters being published). But rap did have its deeper moments as in Pharrell's "Frontin'" wherein Jay Z undergoes the Divine humililiations that stop his "frontin" and make him admit love to his girl: "I'm too old
to be frontin what I'm feelin'/Denzelin'/actin' like your ain't appealin'
when you are/stuntin' like you ain't my only girl when you are/I'm ready to stop when you are". Translation: I do like ya....could we both stop pretending isolation is strength. That is Christian and Pope Leo XIII noted how Aquinas took what was good from the pagans like Aristotle and in doing so the Pope said he was like the Jews whom God commanded to take from the Egyptians when they left Egypt... "gold, silver and precious rainments." That's still true.


The reason commercial music isn't selling is because it has been manufactured for the sole purpose of being commercial. When the music industry puts art that appeals to mainstream America in the the marketplace it will sell.


Lower the price? How do you compete with free?

I speculate if you plotted CD sales vs. number of homes with high speed internet connections (or computers capable of handling music well), you would see the cause. People are stealing this stuff because they don't know its illegal (or at least wrong) or they rationalize why its OK to steal it.

How many people are filling 80 GB players with music they paid for? Lets see, 20,000 songs ... even at a quarter a piece thats a $5000 record collection. I won't say people don't have these, but they are few, far between, and the product of years of collecting.


Peter Kreeft said somewhere that every social or cultural revolution is preceded by a musical revolution. He cited the 1960s.

Is that true?

Brian Day

People are stealing this stuff because they don't know its illegal (or at least wrong) or they rationalize why its OK to steal it.

People know that it is wrong. They rationalize it as a way to "stick it to the man" and his high CD prices. There will always be a segment of society that will freeload, although most people are willing to to pay a fair price for a product. But when people perceive an overpriced product along with heavy-handed royalty schemes (RIAA) then it is easy to rationalize against an unfair situation.


I saw a piece on the news last night (I think it was CBS) noting that more and more artists are going independent so they can keep more on each album sold - about $6 each, vs. a royalty of $1 per album if they're with a major label.

Cajun Nick

I teach at a public high school in rural (and poor) south Louisiana. The students I teach all own the latest music, but they don't own an original copy. Everything (okay, slight hyperbole) they have is copied from somewhere else.

They don't miss out on the music; they have all the music they want. And, no, they don't think it's wrong to make as many copies as they need.


I filled my 40G i-Pod with 10 days worth of music spanning 2000 years and every continent but Antarctica. Using my own CD collection and legal downloads. Road trips have never been the same, and I don't have to shuffle and deal CD's in the car. I don't mind paying $0.99 per song, but I wish someone would open the vaults, so to speak, so that I can find some of the stuff I used to get from Napster (before I wised up to the ethics of the situation). Anyone know where I can find a download of Oliver Hardy singing "Trail of the Lonesome Pine"? Or Groucho singing "Lydia, the Tattooed Lady"? Or Burning Sensations "Belly of the Whale"? (And, for that matter, are there any musically-inclined scientific types writing folk music in Antarctica?!?)
Anyway, my point is, I, at 56, love the new technology, for its compactness, ease of access (don't have to prowl the misfiled shelves at Borders or seek a baffled minion to assist the search), and its potential for a truly eclectic audio shuffle. I just wish the Powers That Moulder would Wise Up!


Anyone know where I can find a download of Oliver Hardy singing "Trail of the Lonesome Pine"? Or Groucho singing "Lydia, the Tattooed Lady"? Or Burning Sensations "Belly of the Whale"? (And, for that matter, are there any musically-inclined scientific types writing folk music in Antarctica?!?)

In that case, how about tracks from The Andrews Sisters????

Catherine L

Cajun Nick,

I had a long conversation w/my 16-year-old son trying to explain why making copies of other people's music is stealing. It was a hard concept for him to grasp because when you copy something, you're not depriving the other person of that something. He's smart and understands a lot, but still hasn't quite grasped the subtleties of copyright laws and how royalties work. Now, the quality of the music he's "borrowing" is another story. He knows it's bad.

Cajun Nick

Catherine L,

I've had discussions with my classes about the issue, too. I deal with it in my free enterprise class - the whole supply side of the issue.

They understand that there is a disincentive to produce something when there is not going to be any profit.

They also understand that there are laws prohibiting it. In terms of it being wrong, this is where they understand that it is wrong - that the law says so.

But they think that the law is wrong; so, they feel that they can disregard the law.

I remember when I was a teenager, my friends and I made copies of cassettes (no CDs back then). We generally didn't think that it was really wrong. Just because some adult told us it was wrong didn't make it so.


To say that the music industry "doesn't get it" is an understatement.

I wonder how long it'll be until they try to shut down public libraries.

Brian Day

One point that I would like to add to my original post:

4) Fair Use. The pirating issue aside, DRM severely restricts established fair rights use. If I want to make copies of songs to play on my own personal devices (computer, car, mp3 player), DRM won't let me. That is a big dis-incentive to buy that music.


to complete your collection geographically, you might be interested in the Antarctic Symphonies of Vaughan Williams and Peter Maxwell Davies British Antarctic Survey
links at the bottom of that page to legit sample, links at the top left show the British Antarctic Survey supporting arts as well as sciences.

Tim J.

"Burning Sensations "Belly of the Whale"?"

That was a GREAT song, so of course it went nowhere. You can watch the video - equally good - on YouTube, but I don't know where you might find an audio download.

What's funny is that "alternative" is now mainstream pop. There IS no alternative. Rage Against The Machine? They ARE the machine!

Maybe it's me, but even though I am aware that "90% of everything is crap", it sure seemed easier to find the odd gem of good music during the seventies/early eighties than it is now. You really have to hunt to find something interesting in the new releases.

The growling, screaming alt/metal/punk bands currently in vogue are so cookie-cutter pre-packaged and so full of fake angst that I am alternately bored stiff and laughing out loud at that tripe.

Even Tool, who are at least capable of some musicianship and originality, are so monotonously angst-y that one wonders why they don't just throw themselves in front of a bus. Is there only one human emotion that these people are mentally equipped to explore?

'Kay... rant over (for now).


sorry bad link


In order to improve the quality of music in the industry, two things need to be done. They are both obvious things but few would believe they are not mutually exclusive.

1) People who are good at making lyrics should make lyrics. The sooner celebrities realize how absolutely stupid they are, the better. No one buys CDs for the philosophical stylings of Dixie Chicks, Akorn, Snoopy, Green Day, etc. Just because you have talent with a microphone does not mean you are capable of making good decisions with regards to lyrics. I love Duncan Shiek's voice, but I have purchased a total of two of his songs because everything that man sings is so pathetically maudlin.

Singers need to be told what to sing and if they refuse for some stupid reason, they need to be fired. The cult of self-actualization "It's all about your SELF" is killing art. A little selfless service among these inflated egos would drastically improve quality. Yes this would mean the end result is much more of a prepackaged product but it would be a better product.

2) Singers must be more diverse. Think how neat it would be if every once in a while someone actually smiled when they sang because what they are singing about makes them happy. Look at all the millionaire crybabies we have on stage now. Not a single one of them is happy. There is so much more about the human experience than cynicism, anger, and defiance. The time has come to use art to capture that broad range.

I would love to see all these babies back on the streets selling their teeth to make honest living.


People who are good at making lyrics should make lyrics... I love Duncan Shiek's voice, but I have purchased a total of two of his songs because everything that man sings is so pathetically maudlin.

"Duncan doesn't write all his own lyrics." - Reviewer 1
"The lyrics speak of very real subject matter." - Reviewer 2
"He demonstrated on his first two discs that he is capable of passable (at the very least) to downright clever lyrics on his own." - Reviewer 3
"His thought-provoking lyrics and smooth vocals are both soothing and inspiring." - Reviewer 4
"Affected and intriging lyrics" - Reviewer 5
"What I always enjoy about Sheik's music is that he knows how to take an average subject like relationships and turn it into something poetic and witty. Just listen to the lyrics of "Genius" or "Such Reveries". - Reviewer 6
"Duncan returns with a new storm of delightful lyrics." - Reviewer 7
"You sit and listen to his lyrics and smile.. I had one of the most awful days that day and his lyrics are like someone telling you 'hey,its ok,everthings going to be ok,life is just like that'" - Reviewer 8
"The lyrics are smart without being alienating, and they are all his!" - Reviewer 9
"The lyrics speak of very real subject matter" - Reviewer 10

Dr. Eric

Ever notice how music reviewers talk about the lyrics but couldn't tell what key the song is in to save their lives?

The music is much more than the lyrics!!!

Most heavy metal is in the key of E-minor (think Metallica) and most of the Nu metal is in the key of D-Minor (because of the tuning of the thickest string of the guitar.)

If bands would...

play in different keys: like F-sharp-major;

would use different time signatures: Pink Floyd's "Money" is in 7/8 time instead of 4/4;

use different instruments: check out the album "A Night at the Opera" by Queen.

Maybe people would listen more.

Just a few suggestions to change the bland scene that's out there now.


Most heavy metal is in the key of E-minor (think Metallica)...

So Dr. Eric listens to Metallica...that explains a lot of things!

"I am Evil!"


I've been a filker for a lot of years -- part of the musical tradition of science fiction and fantasy conventions. It's a very small musical tradition, but in many ways that makes it more interesting. Individual quirks and interests of songwriters can change things quite a bit. Some people keep things more or less the same; others are constantly trying to do something different or better.

Probably the biggest changes have been caused by the advent of people with really advanced musical and performing skills into a world mostly comprised of amateurs. In some ways, this is good -- the music is complex enough to attract folks with really amazing skills, and the bar is raised. OTOH, there is nothing so depressing as realizing that you have absolutely no chance of ever being as skilled as one of these people unless you go back in time and start studying music at special schools when you're five. It's particularly discouraging for the typical shy and nerdy young science fiction fan. (But it's not like you can tell people to stop being so good....)

In our tiny little music industry, there is no slump. We sell a lot more CDs than we ever used to. (Most people would never have heard of filk at all without the Internet.) At the same time, there are free distribution systems like the various filk archives or "radio stations". CDs provide a totally different experience than the live performance or a filker's personal recording, though, and there's no real reason to steal.


I forgot to mention that the Internet radio royalty scheme will not be paying independent musicians, like filkers, any royalty money unless they pay to join royalty bodies like ASCAP. So we don't have a problem with consumer theft, but we do have a problem with corporate and government theft from artists.


Rap is over.

Rap is not over anymore than film is over. Just because there are immoral (and bad) films being produced doesn't mean there aren't great (and substantive) films being produced. The same is true of rap, which is only a subset of the larger culture of Hip Hop, which is built on the four elements of the Emcee (rapper), the DJ, the Breakdancer, and the Graffiti painter. It lives on every day as a culture, not as a business.

If you want to talk about positive, substantive Hip Hop, I can point you in the right direction. Is all Hip Hop rosey? No. A lot of it deals with reality from the perspective of black American youth. Some of it deals with that in a helpful way, some of it deals with that in a destructive way. But the artform is far from dead, although the commercial aspect may be dying. For those of us who love Hip Hop CULTURE, we long for the day when the public face of Hip Hop dies, and we can get back to real music and real culture.

I say G's are making figures at a high regard
And brothers dying for it nowadays ain't odd
Investing in fantasies and not God
Welcome to reality, see times is hard
People try to snatch the credit, but can't claim the card
Showing out in videos, saying they cold stars
See, stuff like that will make your mama cry
Better watch the way you spend it 'cause the stakes is high

--De La Soul, "Stakes Is High"

Michael Astfalk

I read the article and the majority of comments with great interest. Confession: I'm a music junkie. More appropriately, I'm an audiophile. It all started with me back in the early 90s in college, right before I graduated, when my audiophile neighbor introduced me to some classical music labels that did quality recordings. From there, I found labels such as Delos that released music in surround sound when it was just Dolby ProLogic. Eventually the record labels came out with competing formats of SACD and DVD-Audio. I ate that up and started to collect albums that were ONLY in those formats. Needless to say, the iPod craze pushed those formats aside. So, I of course have an iPod as well - with the majority of my CD collection on it along with my podcasts.

So what is really killing the industry? I think you've all hit on it in one form or another - greed and arrogance. The CDs are way over priced (or are they, when BMG's www.yourmusic.com sells them for $6.99 ea including shipping?) and the artists continue to banter about this cause and that. It used to be that recording artists hit the road on tour and made money from their self promotion through album sales & singles. Now they hit the road and soak you for a concert ticket, making money from fans that are willing to spend $100 or more just to spend about 2 hours loosing their hearing and having drunk people spew all over them (yes,that happened to me at a Springsteen conert). No more. I refuse to spend the money. I haven't bought a CD in almost a year. Haven't gone to a concert in nearly two. Who can afford it anyhow? The DVD is cheaper, sounds better, and nobody yaks their $10 beer on you.

In the end, the consumer suffers. We get a so-so product that has mediocre sound quality and a performer that is more concerned with political elections than they than giving a good performance.

If they want to wake up, they'll get back to their roots and find real talent that wants to perform for an audience, not the "cause of the day."

Dr. Eric


I was in a band once and we did play Metallica songs but not the one you mentioned.

I would rather play and sing Beatles and Oasis songs anyway.


Leo, thanks! I'd quite forgotten about the Vaughan Willims symphony, doh!
Esau, just FYI, i-Tunes returned a list of 150 songs when I did a search on the Andrews Sisters! *G*

Bill Q

This may sound cheesy, but American Idol actually gives me hope that America's taste in music is better than the record companies give us credit for. This year's winner was Jordin Sparks, a 17-year-old girl who has been an active pro-lifer (I even saw a picture of her at an event with Father Frank Pavone), doesn't dress like a street walker and is slightly on the heavy side. She seems to be the exact opposite of what the record labels usually offer us, but she has an amazing voice.

Maybe the culture really is rejecting rap "values."

A Non

"Viva America! Freedom to speak your mind," except you, singers, we don't think you have a right to your opinion, you don't have a right to say what you believe....

Envy from people in the combox who know only a few people hear their rantings?

Tom Simon

I smell a troll!

Singers have the right to say what they believe.

They don't have the right to get paid for it as if it were their day job, any more than the rest of us do.

A Non


Well, if people don't like what they say IN THEIR DAY JOB (singing), just "don't go" or "don't buy" their product. Simple capitalistic answer, isn't it?

Again, envy that they can have their opinions as a part of their job and people are buying it!

Tim J.

Singers have a right to say whatever they like and I have a right not to buy their music, a right I exercise frequently. Same goes for movies and other entertainments.

It has nothing to do with envy to wish they would just shut up and sing. The thing is, it's like static... it interferes with the enjoyment of the art. It gets in the way.

Sounds like someone might be envious, though.

John Gordon

I've found a great source for some of the more interesting music (Groucho and "Lydia" or Oliver Hardy and Lonesome Pine. It's on records at the various thrift shops. I've got a record player that feeds right into my computer and then a program that splits the side into tracks and then either burns a cd or prepares the music to be copied to a mp3 player. There's a lot of truly interesting music that's been made available over the past 50 years and earlier for 78s.

It only takes an additional (over playing it on the record player) 5-10 minutes per album to go from vinyl to electronic or cd. And then the album goes on the shelf or back to the thrift store.

I purchased a second record player and hooked it up in my bookstore. Last weekend, I had a teen-aged girl asking if I was REALLY playing RECORDS on that thing. A couple of months ago, a kid wanted to know where I got the gigantic CDs and how many songs fit on one.


Mike Petrik

"I would rather play and sing Beatles and Oasis songs anyway."

Well, my son the guitarist tells me that Metallica songs are much much harder to play. I do like their old stuff though. Very intense and powerful.

And I agree with Jason. While I don't care for rap or its cousin hip-hop (guitarist son calls it lousy poetry to a beat), there is nothing especially evil about the style. The lyrics do have messages, which is more than one can say for much of the bland stuff now know as "alternative," and the morality of the message must in each case stand on its own.

Mike Petrik

Hey troll,
Of course singers have the right to say or sing whatever they want. If they are arrogant enough to believe that their audience gives a patoot about their political opinions, or if the public is stupid enough to view them as public policy experts more power to them. And people have a right to not buy their stuff, ridicule them or their audiances, even in comboxes. So what? Nothing deep here. Move on.

Bill Q

If you think about it, it shouldn't be too surprising that people who enjoy music that dwells on rebelling against society and being exempt from its rules wouldn't be interested in following the rules on legitimately obtaining music.

Tim J.

EXACTLY, Bill Q! This is the whole "stick it to the man" hippie thing come home to roost. It was alright when they were living in converted busses and crying "down with the establishment!", but now they ARE the establishment and they want their money!

But their message lives on after them, and has been picked up by the younger generations. The hipsters passed on the message of moral relativism, too. How is it that now they want to moralize about stealing music? Free Music for Free Spirits, man!

Dr. Eric

Mike Petrik,

The Metallica songs were harder to play, but the melodies aren't as nice as the Beatles or Oasis songs. (This is obviously a matter of taste.)

Plus the Beatles and Oasis songs always had harmony parts in which the other band members could sing with me, which put us above the other bands. We had more than one person who could sing.

Remember that Lars Ulrich was one of the leading voices against Napster.


Esau, just FYI, i-Tunes returned a list of 150 songs when I did a search on the Andrews Sisters! *G*


Thanks for the info!

Now I wonder if they have stuff by the Dorsey brothers or the Page Cavanaugh Trio?

I'll need to check it out!

Dr. Eric:


At least, you had a band and knew how to play!

Metallica songs are hard to play -- although my friends did start out learning (as with most teens at the time) "Stairway to Heaven".

Tim J.

I started out learning "Smoke on the Water"! But a penchant for jazz eventually sapped my enthusiasm for troglodyte rock, and eventually left me keenly aware that I was NEVER going to be able to play guitar at a level that I would really find artistically fulfilling.

So I returned to painting, which is a good thing and for which I am most grateful. People are gifted one way or another for a reason.


So I returned to painting, which is a good thing and for which I am most grateful. People are gifted one way or another for a reason.

Tim J.

Jazz is awesome -- so many kinds, too!

I can listen to something as old as Dorsey to something new by Botti.

As far as gifts are concerned, I believe you are blessed with several gifts; art only being one of them!

Keep up the great work, brutha!

Tim J.

I'm really not much of a jazz connoiseur... I don't know a whole lot about it, but I know what I like!

I don't care for fusion, but go for Charlie Parker, Dave Brubeck, more recent stuff like Jean-Luc Ponty, Pat Metheney, Larry Carlton... and jazz rock like Steely Dan.

Once I got a taste for it, I couldn't find much satisfaction in banging out three chords, and I just didn't have the coordination to play the kind of complex melodic guitar leads I would have liked. :-(

It reminds me of the summer I tried to teach myself to high jump. It would have helped had I known that there aren't many high-jumpers with a 30" inseam!

Mike Petrik

Dr. Eric,
As to your 9:55 post, I agree completely. And of course my son the capitalist was not the least offended by Lars' position. Admittedly, I was passionately indifferent.

Dr. Eric

Esau, Mike and Tim J,

I was in a band that was locally famous. I even had people at the University I was attending come up to me and tell me how much they liked my band, and I couldn't tell you who they were.

I continued playing even when I was in my early years of practicing (not too long ago as I'm 31.)

I took an advanced acupuncture class and the instructor told us that those of us who play guitar had to decide between playing guitar and practicing acupuncture. The calluses on the left fingertips distort the sensation between right and left and ruin the ability to perform pulse diagnosis.

I became seriously ill for about a day after hearing that. After I recovered, I took a nail file to my fingertips and made them both pink by scouring the calluses off of the left fingertips and the skin off of the right ones. I haven't touched my guitar for a year now. :-(

My wife gets mad at me because I no longer sing. But without the guitar, it's no longer as much fun.

Whew! I feel better now.


I was in a band that was locally famous.

Dr. Eric,

Now you've peaked my interest -- what exactly was the name of your band?!?!?

David B.

I'm going to need you to sworn testimony before the FCC about John's rampant obsession with me. What say you?



Don't expect the slack to be picked up through online sales in the first place--that's inevitable when we can buy singles! It's a *good* thing that sales have gone down--the people are letting their money talk.

Any time you hear them frown and frame it in a negative way that points fingers at someone else, don't fall for it. The music industry doesn't want to take the blame for pushing so much crap, and people should never have had to buy entire CDs for one or two songs in the first place, either.

Dr. Eric


Did you live near St. Louis?

That's probably the only way you'd have heard of us.

Dr. Eric




Your point?

Lyrics can be "intriguing," "affected," "real," and "clever" and still sound the same emotional tone over and over. And this is exactly what Duncan Sheik's music does. Maybe it does not strike you as being as monotone but myself and all my friends who are not disaffected teenagers agree: the man is depressing.

Maybe the fools who write music reviews disagree, but I do not take any stock in their standard of good. If I did, I would listen to the same crap they do.

My advice is to actually listen to the lyrics. Not just Sheik, but many of the pop songs today have extremely depressing lyrics especially if the music is very lively and bright.

Duncan may not write all his own lyrics. He should not write any of them. He is just another baby self-actualizing the art out of the industry.


I think A Non missed the point: the music industry is dying (not music itself) and singers using the stage as a soapbox is one of the reasons hesitate to buy albums. How is that envy?


With the exception of gems like Ishtar and The Legend of Boggy Creek Creature II: And the Legend Continues, actors usually do not write their own lines.

Michelangelo was commissioned by the Church to do the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

It seems to me that the best art has always had something of the corporate involved in it creation. And conversely, the more an artist is given free reign, the more we are likely to see his self-aggrandized mirror image as the end product.

While it is true artists have suffered from undue influences under their contractual and financial masters, the present trend of allowing complete and total license is equally harmful to art. No one bought Prince's Emancipation album.

There seems to be an utter lack of appreciation of limitations these days. Even the idea of appreciating limitations seems to be a contradiction of terms to most. But how can any artist practice his livelihood without them?

The act of drawing a line on paper is an act of limitation. It says "the nose extends this far and no further. What is on this side of the line is nose and on that; is not-nose." A note of music is not all sounds, it is one sound. One sound held by a set measure played by set instrument. If it were not specific and limited, then its purpose would be meaningless and the end product would be noise. A sculpture is made by taking a large block of wood or stone and carving smaller limitations into that block.

Love is also an act of limitation. Could it be called love if you shared the same deep emotional attachment with everyone?

How could the music industry be surprised then, if after years of confusing licentiousness with creative freedom, artists have completely alienated themselves from their fans? In order to have universal appeal, there must be something of the universal about the music.

Human beings are by their nature very limited. So when you tell an artist he can do anything he wants, what usually happens is tries to do everything but accomplishes absolutely nothing.


I'm not normally a big anti-corporation type, but I think there's an element of the front office hurting the music in some circles. I don't know what the case is in terms of rock, pop, etc (I like some of this stuff but don't really follow it), but you can see (hear?) the negative impacts labels have on country music. Country music is getting strangled by the fact that the people who are in charge of it don't know a mandolin from a steel guitar; they just aren't rooted in the history or culture of the music they're trying to promote. The only thing these folks know about Ernest Tubb is that there's a record shop named after him on Broadway. There are some exceptions, sure: Josh Turner is amazing, and Jason Aldeen is great if you like a bit of Southern Rock influence -- there is still good talent out there, we just aren't hearing much of it. And when you have #1 Country chart hits being played on soft rock stations, you know the schmaltzy, whiny, boy-band pop-wannabe shtick has gone too far. The only thing more out of place in Nashville is that statue in the traffic circle on Music Row.

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