The amount of flux in the world of music and the businesses of marketing and selling creativity continues to be absolutely amazing. In nearly 25 years of writing about music I’m seeing things I almost don't believe.
For good measure alone, Critics, particularly the cranky ones like I've recently become, all deserve a well–placed boot up the arse once in awhile and so, much to my delight I too loved much of The Simpsons movie I prematurely sniffed at last week on this forum. I even get to add this delicious addendum: The critics are wrong! It's pretty wonderful. Many great bits. Much self-deprecation. Maggie emerging as a full–blown character. Okay, okay: I was wrong.
Insider music biz stuff should in most cases stay that way because normal folk, what I like to call "civilians," don't care about who said what to whom in the bowels of some label HQ in Burbank or Manhattan. There's also something pitifully self-indulgent and exclusionary and ultimately pathetic about people who are in the know about the music biz and live to tell you about it.
Now that we're perched upon the precipice of the Simpson Movie opening—at least a decade too late—I, by chance, I caught the Hullabalooza episode with the Smashing Pumpkins this week, the one where Homer becomes part of the "pageant of the transmundane," by being shot in the stomach with a cannonball.
Label heads—those at the very highest positions of power at music companies. To anyone who's spent time near the record business, they're a mythical breed. Like gnomes. Or dragons. Often, it's their vision that spells success or failure for the label they run. And what they say goes. Over the years, many a legendary creature has assumed the title: Goddard Lieberson, Clive Davis, Mo Ostin, to name just a few of those who have survived and prospered. The list of those who did not is at least twice as long.
The old saw about "the first album was their best" is often true, truer than most artists want to admit. And no where in music is that state more widespread than with singer/songwriters who only have a guitar, their voice and their material and no band to hide behind. Trying to hack out a career as a solo act is a bitch. Takes guts or overweening ego to get through it. Most soloists fall prey to the natural reaction which is to pour all their best ideas into the first project. That's cool until you're faced with coming up with a second and perhaps a third record. Yet sometimes the process can reverse itself, and after a fallow period a songwriter can recharge, again have something to say, and they come through with a late season masterpiece.