“There is no destination that can guarantee happiness.” ~ Dr. Terry A. Gordon
This is former UK President James Patterson. Well, you know, it’s not him, it’s his likeness. That’s not what I want to talk about anyway. I’ve been listening to Elton John a lot lately. Stacy gave me Blue Moves last month, and last week she gave me Goodbye Yellow Brick Road… on vinyl! In between, I’ve been listening to Captain Fantastic, Honkey Chateau, Madman Across the Water, with some Rainbow (yes, the metal band), and Miles Davis (yes, jazz) thrown in for good measure. There’s a reason I love all this stuff beyond musical tastes. It’s not perfect. None of it. It breathes. You can feel it breathing like the players breathed when they made it. There’s so little new music that captures my attention because it’s… well, it’s perfect. Every beat is where it should be, the tempo never wavers; vocals are perfect; the production is so clean you can eat off of it. And for all that, it bores me to death. Occasionally an artist will tap into something of what the old folks knew (old folks – funny), but even they have a kind of sterility about them. Modernity demands it; perfect pitch, perfect sound; metronomic. Once Donald Fagan had success with that first fully digital record, it was over. And hey, I loved it as much as anybody. The clarity was truly astounding. Everything sounded “better.” I didn’t see what was coming. A few short years later, when we made the first Stealin Horses record (1987/88), much of the industry had moved to digital tape. But it was still tape. Today it’s all software. It seems with every step away from moving parts and magnetic disturbance, some humanness got lost. Better clarity demanded better precision from the players and producers. That unforgiving structure weeded out a lot of talent (and it’s made some seriously untalented people a lot of money along the way). Talent isn’t always perfect. It breathes like the imperfect human that possesses it. I guess I’m old because I miss the humanness of music. Give me great songs with warts and all. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with the perfectly imperfect Nigel Olsson.