Gladys Knight, Conservatives Concede Culture War

Gladys Knight

Gladys Knight is one of the greatest singers of all time. Period. I don’t care about the Super Bowl. Never have. Bread and circuses stuff. The only part I watched was the glorious Ms. Knight render the best version of “The Star Spangled Banner” I’ve had the good fortune to hear. Tearing-up from the start of her wonderful voice I still get the same reaction thinking about it the next day, and beyond! She stood up to the haters, and did what she felt was right. It was.

Now we have so-called “journalists” trying to bully her into their agenda. She is a proud American who clearly loves this country and won’t apologize for it.

America first heard Gladys Knight in 1952 when (at 7 years old) she won the Ted Mack Amateur Hour. Along with her brother, sister, and two cousins, Gladys Knight and the Pips were formed. They were highly successful, and Ms. Knight went on to a fantastic solo career as well.

I moved to Atlanta, Georgia (Ms. Knight’s home town) almost 35 years ago. Never have I been so proud to be a resident as I am today. I love America, Atlanta, and Gladys Knight! Thank you, Ms. Knight!

Conservatives Concede the Culture War

Conservatives conceded the culture war. It’s pathetic, but it’s hard to win a fight when you aren’t even engaged. It gets tedious to think that if you want to hear something from a conservative, it is some guy with a cowboy hat offering a safe, homogenized version of “country/pop” ooze.

In an article by Jasper Hamill-“Millennials Prefer Music From 20th Century Golden Age to the Pop of Today, Research Suggests”, he says: “Scientists tested a group of millennials on their ability to recognise hit records from different decades. The 643 participants, typically aged 18 to 25, maintained a steady memory of top tunes that came out between 1960 and 1999. In contrast, their memory of 21st-century songs from 2000 to 2015 – while higher overall – diminished rapidly over time. Lead researcher Dr Pascal Wallisch, from New York University in the US, said: ‘The 1960s to 1990s was a special time in music, reflected by a steady recognition of pieces of that era-even by today’s millennials.’ During this period songs reaching the top of the US Billboard charts were significantly more varied than they were between 2000 to 2015, or the 1940s and 1950s, said the scientists.” (Jasper Hamill).

Era of Annoying

In the era of annoying “millennial whoop“s, (I addressed this crap in a previous post), people are starving for new ideas of what a song should (or could) be. The golden age named in Mr. Hamill’s article (60’s-90’s) was far more adventurous than the superficial squeeze thrust upon the listener today. Perhaps that’s why people don’t listen. There’s nothing to challenge them or make them think. Why bother?

Conservatives seem to narrow their choices (it’s narrowed for them, thank you very much) to country/pop formulaic-red-neck y-sound-a-like fluff. There are a lot of us that like to think about what we listen to. That’s why you usually go back to hear something you can actually hold on to for more than just the time spent listening to it (if you make it that far).

It’s past time for conservatives to be given serious music choices. I don’t identify with that dude in a cowboy hat. Come on, let’s have some serious choices. I’m going to keep offering them, like it or not!

© 2019 J. Mark Witters

The “Recording Artist”

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The “Recording Artist”

It’s All About Semantics

Semantics  DO matter.  Most introductions for a live recording proclaim:       “(record label) recording artist (name)”.    What many don’t understand is that they are performance artists.   Outside the improvisation (artistic),  you’re hearing a copy of their original recording (maybe artistic, maybe not).  I’m not slighting the skills of the performer.  They have great skills to do what they do.  The question remains: who is a  “recording artist”?

It can be argued that the at present, creation of most recorded music is left to the producer.  This has not always been the case.  The Beatles were true recording artists and had an artistic producer (George Martin) as well.  Why?  They took chances on sounds never before put on record added to masterful songwriting.  There are but few instances of that now, mostly due to economic and political forces.

For the most part, in music today (I’m talking pop music),  we have recordings made largely by matching mediocre (or even rotten) homogenized “songs” with “cookie-cutter”  producers.    Safe, boring ground and because you can market anything to sell, sell it will.  Nothing like hearing that “Millennial Whoop” again!

A work of art must make the rules: rules do not make a work of art...I tell people I am not a musician; I work with rhythms, frequencies and are merely the gossips of music. - Edgard Varese

Edgard Varese

I first heard of Edgard Varese  from Frank Zappa (one of my major influences).  Turns out, Varese was his biggest influence. This, of course, led me to his music.  It is difficult to listen to.  Varese said, “to stubbornly conditioned ears, anything new in music has always been called noise”.   He only had about three hours worth of music published in his lifetime.

Despite lack of  “commercial success”, Varese founded the International Composers’ Guild in 1921 and the Pan-American Association of Composers in 1926.  He has been referred to as the “father of electronic music” for his addition of newly invented electronic instruments such as the ondes Martenot and Theremin , even inventing them himself.

I will cover Frank Zappa at a later date because he deserves his own blog post.  Varese’s influence is all over  Zappa’s music.  They were both true artists and were not shy about blazing trails.

The Road Least Traveled

Being a true recording artist is definitely the road least traveled.  It’s very lonely.  Everyone yearns for acceptance, so it’s totally against the grain to go it alone.  But face it, you are on your own.  Hours and hours spent thrashing things out that you know will probably not even get listened to because it’s different from everything else.  You get to the point that, good or bad, you just want people to hear what you’re doing.

When growing up, I  wanted to be part of a band.  It didn’t work out for me, so I just  wrote and produced the music myself.  I  became a recording artist, spending  90% of my adult life toiling in blue-collar jobs so I would have the artistic license to do music my own way, warts and all.  I learned a lot from my mistakes (Lord knows I made a ton of them).  The fact I am an old white male Christian conservative who doesn’t mince words has certainly had an effect as well.  Reality can suck.  Oh well…

I don’t play live.  It’s not me.  The studio is my instrument.   I use whatever tools are available to get the sounds  to complete my current vision;  fresh every day.   That’s it.  No apologies.  I’m no better, and certainly no worse than anyone else.  I can live with what I’m doing.  How many can look in the mirror and say that?

My motto: “Live to record another day! ”

© 2018  J. Mark  Witters