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Larry Cohen - Blog

Originality....Comparing it fair to compare?


I play pedal steel guitar and so tend to gravitate towards country, country-rock and folk-rock. I also truly enjoy much of the Indie material being produced today. There are so many genres making it difficult to capture and categorize so much of todays sound. All this aside, regardless of the genre what I listen for is touch, tone and originality both in the instruments being played, the song itself and the vocalists ability to stand apart from the crowd.

The question Id like to ask is this: Is there a difference in originality between the players and the music of the 60s & 70s from the players and music of today? In other words is originality hard to come by, more difficult to obtain in todays music? I realize its a question that has no black and white answer. Nevertheless Id like to offer a few observations. In my world of pedal steel guitar I do believe that the innovators that came up thru the 60s and 70s did each have their own unique touch there own unique sound. When I listen to Jerry Garcia, Buddy Cage, Lloyd Green, John Hughey and Buddy Emmons just to name a few of the greats it is rather easy to differentiate between each of these musicians. Love it or hate it Country music from the 70s you could tell who was playing pedal steel on the records that came across ones favorite AM radio station. Today, even though I know the names of the big name players it all tends to sound the same. In a sense it is a homogenized sound. The notes may be different but save for Paul Franklin, the sound coming from the steel guitars on today across CDs/MP3s its pretty much all a-like.

Regardless of what instrument you play or songs you sing/write Do you perceive the same issue? Is originality a dying art? What about your specific genre, your instrument, and the originality of the songs you write?