Wednesday, May 30, 2012

No Musician Is An Island

Have you ever watched a movie because of who directed it or produced it or wrote the screenplay?  Of course you have, we all have, and they count on it, that's why trailers so often contain the line "from the director of..." or "by the people who brought you..."  That kind of decision has very little to do with the actors.  For instance, if Quentin Tarantino is involved with a movie, I'll watch it.  That surely is not because of his beautiful face.  It's because I've never seen a movie he was involved with that I didn't think had merit.  At this point, just the fact that he thinks the project is worthy of working on will make me watch it.  Who stars in it has no bearing on my desire to see the movie.  My husband is the same way, if Joss Whedon (Avengers) or Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner) is involved, he's there but if Michael Bay (Transformers) had a hand in making a movie, forget it.

So what's my point you're asking?  Well, when was the last time you purchased a record solely because of the guy who produced it?  Or engineered it?  Or played guitar on it?  Personally, I have found a number of really talented musicians by researching who worked on albums I really love and finding out what else they've had a hand in.  I believe my most recent such discovery was Jesse Macht who is just ridiculously good, but I might not have found him if not for his producer.   I was inspired to mention this by this article over at Tape Op.  Go ahead and read it, it's worth it.  He gets the point across much better than I ever could and with a different point of view.  You can come back.  It's cool, I'll wait...

The article was originally brought to my attention on Aaron Tap's blog (which you can find here).  There is little I could say on the subject that they haven't covered, except that I can speak on the subject as a music fan rather than someone in the industry.  As fans, it is essential that we remember that for all intents and purposes nothing you listen to was created by one person.  Sure, there might be one person's name on the album cover or one guy's face in the video but trust me, he was not alone in that endeavor.  And from out here, it's damn near impossible to determine who influenced the sound the most.  Who sang the backing vocals?  Who decided to put that drum in that spot?  Who wrote the string arrangement?  Who played the piano?  Who organized and actually performed the finger snaps that you love so much?  Who decided how loud the lead vocals should be in comparison to the instruments?  Each of those people affected the end result that has had such an impact on you and they are each essential. 

So I implore you, take a look around, read some liner notes or google it if nothing else (there are myriad resources available online for this kind of information) and find out who did what and what else they've done.  Find someone who's taste suits yours and check out their back catalogue.  Let's make an effort to make music purchasing and listening a bit less passive and give it the attention it deserves.  After all, these people (even the ones you've never heard of) have put their heart in soul in this end product, the least you can do is acknowledge that it means something to you and give them some support.

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