Over the last few days I had the pleasure of watching a great Documentary about one of my all time favourite bands, the Eagles. History of the Eagles:The Story of an American Band (available on Netflix) was amazing. It told the story of the bands beginnings, right from when Glenn Frey and Don Henley were growing up. It spoke of their childhood, early songs, early music inspirations and first bands and first friends. It goes on to show the bands beginnings from playing in early bands together, meeting new members, becoming backing band members to Linda Ronstadt, to breaking off and forming the Eagles. Drugs, song writing, tribulation, paying dues, travel in vans and station wagons, networking, and even living with other well known talent (Bob Segar, Jackson Browne). Ups, downs, drugs, band fights, members leaving, members joining, trashed hotel rooms, drugs, commercial success, money, girls, sex, flying bottles, drugs, name calling, guitar smashing….this had it all.
But while watching it, I kind of got a bit sad. I got sad because, after thinking about it a bit, I realized that there aren’t really any great band stories like this any more. These days its all about Vine and YouTube and Facebook and getting famous that way (I’m looking at you Justin Bieber). There is no paying your dues, no banging out a song in your garage, no failed first bands, no terrible songs. It has, in my opinion, left a giant hole in music today. When I go to listen to Google Music, there’s a reason why I tend to gravitate to the feeds from the 80’s and 90’s (sometimes early 2000’s). Music just doesn’t have the power or emotion or, dare I say, soul behind it that it had in those decades. And in it’s wake we have “artists” that are basically spoiled, rich, entitled, brats. Behaving badly for the entire world to see. I’m not saying that history’s rock stars haven’t behaved badly, but you would never see Ozzy being carried on a security team members back on the Great Wall of China because he was “tired”..just sayin. You rarely heard the word “Diva” or anything else like that and the. These kids have no idea what it’s like to struggle to make it, they just had everything handed to them on a silver platter by some agent and music company executive who was just looking to up their profit margin.
It’s not just in Rock and Pop music either. I have almost stopped listening to Country music (which I love) because when you turn on country radio now all you get is Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line. Synthesized drums, rapping, auto-tuned. Basically pop music with a southern accent. And gone are the days where you could be an regular, dare I say ugly, singer and still make it. Now you have to be “pretty” and “bankable”. So long to the days where Conway Twitty, Pam Tillis, or Lyle Lovett could be big names and make good music based on talent alone.
I think Dave Grohl said it best.
“When I think about kids watching a TV show like American Idol or The Voice, then they think, ‘Oh, OK, that’s how you become a musician, you stand in line for eight fucking hours with 800 people at a convention center and… then you sing your heart out for someone and then they tell you it’s not fuckin ’good enough.’ Can you imagine? It’s destroying the next generation of musicians! Musicians should go to a yard sale and buy and old fucking drum set and get in their garage and just suck. And get their friends to come in and they’ll suck, too. And then they’ll fucking start playing and they’ll have the best time they’ve ever had in their lives and then all of a sudden they’ll become Nirvana. Because that’s exactly what happened with Nirvana. Just a bunch of guys that had some shitty old instruments and they got together and started playing some noisy-ass shit, and they became the biggest band in the world. That can happen again! You don’t need a fucking computer or the internet or The Voice or American Idol.” – Dave Grohl
Amen to this, Mr Grohl…..AMEN