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Musically Speaking: Choices

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JJ Rocks Article # 156: Choices

Even though I have been a musician most of my life, I never realized how many people out there have made music their choice of lifestyle until we started this my website The Spotlight Zone. I was only familiar with artists that I would hear on the radio, see on TV, or have to copy just to make a living. The independent world of music has opened my eyes wide to the massive amount of musical endeavors that are out there in the world. Making the choice to play music is one thing, but what you want to do with it is an entirely different adventure.

Genres of music and lifestyles seem to go hand in hand. Everything from political issues to hair styles seems to have an impact on choices of musical directions. And almost every other day there is a new title for another genre of music. Sometimes I think that someone out there does something as simple as change the sound of a snare drum just to find another excuse to invent a new musical genre. But in my opinion, some of this comes out of laziness and the lack of drive that motivated bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Police, Bob Marley, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Gentle Giant, and other past innovators that were determined to be different. And even though these great bands have talked about their influences, you would have to use a fine tooth comb to detect them in their music.

Lately, so called original bands and slow cookers have a lot in common. They just throw their various musical influences into the pot and try to cook an original sounding meal that they can call their own just by turning up the heat. Dorothy and I listen to many artists each week and we find that there is a tremendous amount of playing ability out there, but not much innovation. We still feature bands based solely on there talents and constructive abilities because they truly deserve to be recognized. But when we hear something fresh and not just a boiling down of obvious musical ingredients, we know that its time to call our contacts in the record industry and blown our horns. And as many of our readers know, this is not the first time that I have written about choosing directions and being original.

Maybe I feel that its something that should be shouted about more than once because new ideas seem to be overshadowed by too many musical thieving chefs. Cooking down another artist's hard work, even though it sometimes sells in some markets, is not the road to a musical immortality that shouts out your name. You must burn your very own brand into your compositions in order for them to be everlasting and not be just another fast food meal. Some people are just out for a quick buck and to be recognized when they walk into the local mall, and thats cool if that is your goal. But I personally hold a higher respect for those who carve out there own individual paths that can only be copied, not recreated.

On the other hand, I also respect those who dont care about being original at all and only want to play at local venues and have fun while spreading the music of their favorite groups. Ive done that myself for many years and had a blast most of the time (until disco came along). But I also worked on my own music on the side and recorded it on my nights off just so I could leave a little piece of me behind when it becomes my time for the big gig in the sky.

Yes, choices are hard to make. Are you out for limited fame and fortune, or do you want to become unmovable musical statues no matter what the cost? Sometimes if you are lucky they come in the same package. And if your goal is to just play music and love what you are doing, that is also a good thing. Some of us wind up sitting on the porch not wondering what direction to take because the many choices overpower the one that is your true self. Thats when peace of mind and your own inner feelings outweigh any dreams of popularity and risk of chance. Then again, maybe its where you are sitting at the time that makes all the difference. You have to be stationary before you choose a direction and become mobile. And if you cant make a choice, then you still have the best seat in the house even if your current reality is preferred over the unknown future. It all boils down to choices and where you want to finally take a stand. Where are you standing now?

JJ Rocks - The Spotlight Zone