By Hans Ebert
“Women they get weary/Young girls they do get weary/Wearing that same shabby old dress…” The late great Otis Redding sang that while dispersing the advice that when it comes to showing women affection, how there’s nothing more effective than trying a little tenderness.
“Romance me,” “Woo me”, “Hold my hand”, “Cuddle me” are words every man has heard at some stage in their lives by the woman they’re with. And though there are those times when a sense of machismo takes over and you flip these requests as being somewhat icky and childish, gawd knows it’s needed if a relationship is going to last. Be bloody romantic- even if it’s a lie.
This is also where music comes into play with many women becoming starry-eyed and wistful listening to songs by artists like Sting, McCartney singing one of his ballads like “My Love” or “Maybe I’m Amazed”, Don Henley asking for forgiveness and being that desperado out riding fences, the introverted and very personal songs of James Taylor, Cat Stevens, and even, hate to say it, but James Blunt singing “You’re Beautiful”.
Perhaps icky to most men, with these artists, it was all about vulnerability and sensitivity. It’s where the term “sensitive singer-songwriter” came from. Whereas Led Zeppelin, especially Plant and Page, Jim Morrison and the Doors, that Jagger swagger, Michael Hutchence with INXS, Marc Bolan wanting to bang a gong with T Rex, Kurt Cobain, Prince, Bowie, Hendrix etc, appealed to woman’s more primal instincts and got their juices flowing in a very different way, there really wasn’t much attraction in, let’s say, Metallica, Iron Maiden and all the head banging bands.
As for Freddie Mercury, they might have loved the music of Queen, but most probably wanted to mother the frontman just as they did Elton John and George Michael. Where IS George these days?
One can’t help but think back to the hours spent putting together music cassettes for that special girl- songs which you hoped would make her see that you were different- sweet and romantic, someone who truly understood her, and not just another Neanderthal who simply wanted to get her in the sack.
Putting those cassettes together were a work of art. and definitely were the predecessor to all those compilation CDs that were later to flood the market, especially “love” compilations. And if you were in a music company, those years spent compiling songs for “her” or them, held you in good stead for working on track listings for CDs built around a love theme.
It was almost second nature and knowing that nothing would go far wrong if included were tracks by Air Supply- any of them- “True” by Spandau Ballet, “Saving All My Love For You” by Whitney Houston, something appropriately slushy from Danish outfit MLTR, and, of course, the one obligatory love ballad from Mr Blunt. And even if it wasn’t Christmas, “Last Christmas” by the Wham! boys would be a good fit.
Of course today there are playlists which anyone with a Spotify account can cobble together. These playlists have also taken away an important ingredient in the wooing process. It’s just all too robotic and soulless. It might force newer and unknown musicians to write their own songs, but we come back to the usual question, And then what? Without some mighty dose of luck or a fairy godmother, there’s not a helluva lot to do with music that’s recorded, but never heard. Artists are sadly doomed to be Cinderella and Cinderfella.
Forget having your own YouTube channel etc as, more and more, this particular platform is for 12-14 year olds wanting a younger Shawn Mendes. And having met some YouTube executives in this region, they’re not exactly likeable people. There’s that same arrogance as there once was when believing that working for MTV or Disney gave one the keys to some exclusive magic kingdom. Well, that was a short run. Poof and everything fell apart, especially when MTV became empty TV. Not even Tom Freston could have helped. Arrogance is never a successful long term business strategy. It always ends in a big fall.
What’s needed is inspiration and having the balls not to follow the social media lemmings and stop reading the avalanche of name droppings from old school music bloggers still rambling on about Irving and Jimmy and Doug. Please, man, stop. It’s embarrassing.
Thinking of the time- and dedication spent putting together those personalised music cassettes was a helluva lot more creative- and smarter marketing than what many sitting in music companies twiddling their thumbs and whistling Dixie.
Somehow, somewhere, a Phoenix will rise from the rubble of rattle and hum and hype and create a new platform for artists who don’t need to sell their souls and appear as a last resort on some television singing competition aimed at mums and aunties, the same dumbed down audience for reality shows like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette that feature people without any shame to show the world that they have zero morals. It’s vapid, manipulated, choreographed eye candy television that has nothing to do with the real world.
But, hey now, what’s that sound, everyone look at what’s going down- politics where no one really knows who’s wearing the white hats, a White House that will be changed forever, and a very nervous world staring at an uncertain future.
It’s always times like these when the power of music finds a new voice and needs new relevant music with strong messages- songs that challenge the great Leonard Cohen’s magnificent Hallelujah for memorability.
Songs can no longer be throwaways thinking “no one listens to lyrics anymore”. If a song has something important to say, it will be heard. Not everyone are lemmings. There are millions of music fans out there waiting for someone or something to deliver them from the wilderness of vacuous, disposable pop of Taylor Swift, now 27, Ed Sheeran, and the gigantic hype machinery behind Rihanna, an obviously scared Kanye West, because his credibility has been shot to bits, Beyoncé, Drake and the rest of “them”.
It’s about control and many of us have rolled over and allowed the shysters in. We need to take this control back. The lunatics must take over the asylum and be extremely careful who they let in.
The last thing we need is more clutter. Inviting those without the necessary experience, grey matter, and lack of creative chutzpah will only mean more of the same. And that’s something we don’t need.
Don’t follow leaders, watch your parking meters and keep your ideas to yourself for as long as possible before the vultures sweep down and try to be part of something they don’t even understand.