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  1. #1

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    >>>>>“The real artists … are doing it the right way because they are going out and playing live and getting a huge following by playing live shows. And you don’t really see them on social media very much.”He added: “When you listen to even the cheesiest songs from the 50s, 60s and 70s, they are songs.<<<<<<<<


    Read more: Sir Elton John wishes people would write `better songs | Daily Mail Online

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  3. #2

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    That artists should strive to make better art is a given, I would think. Perhaps parenthood is having an effect on Sir Elton. Staying off his lawn has been easy for me, what with the Atlantic ocean and whatnot. That said, he's not wrong. I know I've been doing my bit. Writing good songs is hard. Getting people to listen to them is harder. Getting paid for it is orders of magnitude harder than that. Oh well.

  4. #3

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    So - Sir Elton John is complaining about modern music? Interesting that he would think so. But if you think about what Elton John's contributed to modern genres, I would probably go "Ummmm.....yeah?" I grew up in L. A. and my favorite kinds of music were the blues and blues-based rock. Elton John we dismissed as "wimp rock." Such hard hitting songs as "Tiny Dancer," "Honky Cat," "Bennie and the Jets," and "The Bitch is Back" - they had a rock flavor but it was just commercial music, the same kind that he is complaining about now!

  5. #4

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    I loved Elton's mid-70's stuff til I discovered prog rock, then I saw EJ as a dinosaur.

    With the benefit of more experience, I have come to really appreciate his approach to songwriting and arranging and performing. I like all his stuff from the 70's. After that, I think he lost his edge.

    But what he has always had is an impeccable taste for melody. And that's what most pop music these days lacks...that and a beat you can follow.

  6. #5

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    Hmm - define "better" I say. And if he did/could, it would only in effect be some set of rules defining what he considers good. "Good" always a matter of individual taste, and I don't like rules where art is concerned, music or otherwise. Today's songs may not always, or often, be to Elton's taste - some aren't to mine for that matter. Perhaps those songs don't contain certain elements he likes, but other people seem to like them, and who's to say they're wrong?

  7. #6

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    Despite the ad hominem attacks on Elton his hypothesis is easily made, and one needn't be a multiple Grammy winner and massive record and concert ticket seller to make it. American culture continues to decay in many ways and music is one of them.

    Elton grew up playing the piano, and classical piano at that. Compositional form, variation, melody, harmony, rhythm. Music that is married with the mood of the lyrics, etc., etc. The level of sophistication used then, as compared to today? What a down spiral (is that one word or two? oh well).

    When an entire field of music (pop) gets dumbed down by simple, throbbing dance beat objectives, a lot can be lost and has been lost.

    I witnessed pop and rock getting dumbed down by disco, and it has just continued to slide since the 70s. Elton and Billy Joel still rake it in with live shows. That's due in large part to nostalgia, but it's also because they haven't been bettered.

  8. #7
    Thing is, there is a lot of great music being made right now - and a lot of it is electronic and just as good as the classics. It's just that the music business has shifted a little and being on the radio doesn't mean all that much about how good you are any more.

  9. #8

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    I have always said that there is always great music being made, but most Top 100s since the 80's anyway are not among them.

    I go to the gym a couple of times a week. If one of the older gray-haired guys is working the front desk, the background music throughout the facility is set to classic rock or something similar. I heard Elvis Costello's "Watching the Detectives" on Monday...

    But if the 20-something girls are in charge, it's Top 100. Not offensive, just no memorable tunes whatsoever.

    I have as much exposure to Taylor Swift and Katie Perry and The Weekend as the average middle-aged white dude, but I couldn't hum one of their songs if you put a gun to my head.

    Here's the current Top 100 list in case your interested: Music: Top 100 Songs | Billboard Hot 100 Chart | Billboard

    I will point out that our old friend Post Malone comes in at number 3, 21 and 39 and maybe a few more, and I will say I find his stuff more interesting than most of this group. And hey, Bruno Mars, Cardi B, Maroon 5...I'm no old fogey.

    But you're comparing them to Janis and Aretha and Stevie and Elton and Bobbie D...GTFOOH. Ain't no comparison.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt
    I witnessed pop and rock getting dumbed down by disco, and it has just continued to slide since the 70s. Elton and Billy Joel still rake it in with live shows. That's due in large part to nostalgia, but it's also because they haven't been bettered.
    Hey don't knock disco. There was some GREAT stuff put out with a disco beat to dance to. Just listened to Marvin Gaye's I Want You today.

    Can't confuse some of the crap that floated to the top with the broad category of 70's dance music, much of which was superb.

  11. #10

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    I agree with EJ, they're trying to do a different thing than the 'Old School', but it's not working, IMHO. This goes for jazz, also, IMHO.

  12. #11

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    Elton made a lot of crap.

    He also wrote some brilliant tunes, with wonderful melodies and interesting harmony.

    Pop music should listen when he talks.

  13. #12

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    You can accuse the 60's and 70's songwriters of many things, but you can't accuse them of not knowing the importance of melody. They still had that impulse of the old tin pan alley and Broadway songwriters.

    Despite my defense above of disco, it is a fact that some of the bad stuff emphasized beat over melody, and by the 80's it was all attitude and "sound". There were melodic songwriters in the 80's like Peter Gabriel, Sting, Elvis Costello, Glen Tilbrook, etc., but they were overshadowed for the most part by synthesized dance music. And going forward a lot of music emphasized form over function as it were.

    It's kinda hard to put one's finger on it, but there's just a lack of substance to a lot of today's music in every genre, including jazz. That doesn't mean it's all unenjoyable or even irrelevant.

    I mean, some things are just a fact and you have to live with them.
    Last edited by Doctor Jeff; 04-14-2018 at 10:08 AM.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Jeff
    Hey don't knock disco. There was some GREAT stuff put out with a disco beat to dance to. Just listened to Marvin Gaye's I Want You today.

    Can't confuse some of the crap that floated to the top with the broad category of 70's dance music, much of which was superb.
    I know, some of it. Earth Wind and Fire for example, but they were R&B. We played them in the disco though (because they were goooood).

    I never bought a single record of any of those people, or Elton, for that matter. (was into jazz hard core). But there were some disco or "disco-ish" things that were OK.

    I heard some K.C. and The Sunshine Band at a recent wedding. It's kitschy, intentionally so I suspect. But it's also plain old fun. It still works. People old and young still dance to it with a smile on their face.

    I could list the disco craphounds but I won't. They made their bread, they did their job.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt

    I witnessed pop and rock getting dumbed down by disco, and it has just continued to slide since the 70s. Elton and Billy Joel still rake it in with live shows. That's due in large part to nostalgia, but it's also because they haven't been bettered.
    Interesting claim. I do think more highly of both of them than I did when I was young (and they were young). I liked some of their songs but didn't consider myself a fan. Yet I think they both are good songwriters. It's interesting that they "still rake it in with live shows" as neither was really a heart throb (like Elvis or Paul McCartney) and they weren't always critics' darlings either. Their primary appeal is that people like their songs....

  16. #15

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    Cardi B, Post Malone and Lil Dicky are changing the game. I do blues so I'm looking at Malone. I'm working on Rockstar. It's a blues. If I did jazz I'd be checking out Bruno Mars New Jack Swing.
    Swing is swing.

  17. #16

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    Charlie Christian would be tearing this up;


  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Their primary appeal is that people like their songs....

    ^^^^^^^ This.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Jeff
    Hey don't knock disco. There was some GREAT stuff put out with a disco beat to dance to. Just listened to Marvin Gaye's I Want You today.

    Can't confuse some of the crap that floated to the top with the broad category of 70's dance music, much of which was superb.
    Didn’t a lot of music fans in the 1960s think Motown was commercial crap?

    I think good dance pop tends to get remembered and the crap gets forgotten. Album music is different.

  20. #19

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    Pop is looking much better the last year. Post Malone definitely has something. I think it starts with stories in songs.
    Music videos have been around for a hundred years. That changed in the 80's. They became another way to tell the same story. That probably had a lot to do with the 80's being a performers era. That's what has to change.
    We need songwriting.
    Elton is looking in the wrong places. Kendrick Lamar? he's too 'industry'.
    There was a bidding war for Malone. He's made it clear he won't bow down to any genre.
    Lil Dicky is a bit of a novelty but he's about rap. He's the new Eminem.

    When radio is vibrant it filters down to the clubs and generates interest in all live music including jazz.
    Rap isn't going anywhere but it seems like a post-rap post-Prince world now. Malone doesn't need to be a performer. He's a little like Dylan and he can rap too. I like Rockstar and this one;


  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevebol
    Charlie Christian would be tearing this up;

    I could hear CC blowing over that.

  22. #21

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    [QUOTE=christianm77;864184]Didn’t a lot of music fans in the 1960s think Motown was commercial crap?]


    Not where I was living. But then again no one in the Southern or Western US was booing electric Dylan in 1965 either. That was politically brainwashed college kids in the Northeast and the UK.

    Listen to Nile Rogers talk about how Chic basically got put out of business by the Disco Sucks movement in the late 70s Punk circles. It was really just nothing more than racism from a bunch of white punks on dope. I was hardly the Disco Duck or any kind of John Travolta wannabe but I dug Disco. It was just black dance music which I've always liked in any form. I used to tell the punks that in a decade or two they'd be listening and dancing to something similar to Disco and I was right. I hesitate to say it but white people rarely really understand black music including Jazz, even if they like it. There are plenty of exceptions. Muscle Shoals and Chips Moman's Memphis studio come to mind.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Didn’t a lot of music fans in the 1960s think Motown was commercial crap?
    A lot of Motown hits were covered by pop / rock acts. The Animals did "Bring It On Home To Me." Vanilla Fudge did "You Keep Me Hangin' On," The Beatles did "Money (That's What I Want)", "Twist & Shout," "Please, Mr. Postman," "You Really Got A Hold On Me," "Shout,"; Johnny ("Secret Agent Man") Rivers did "Baby I Need Your Lovin'", Creedence did "I Heard It Through The Grapevine", the Doobie Brothers did "Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me A Little While)", Blood, Sweat & Tears did "You've Made Me So Very Happy." The Stones have done several Motown tunes over the years: "Going to a Go-Go", "Harlem Shuffle" (not Motown per se but in the same ballpark), "Ain't Too Proud To Beg," "Just My Imagination", "My Girl,"and Bobby Womack's "It's All Over Now". (I'm probably leaving out a few others.)

    I have read that Bruce Springsteen has often done Edwin Starr's "War" at live shows. (I had that single. I had a lot of Motown singles as a kid.)

    Later, Rod Stewart did "I Know I'm Losing You." The Band did "Baby, Don't You Do It." Talking Heads did "Take Me To The River". Elvis Costello did "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down." Rare Earth had their biggest hit with "Get Ready." The Captain & Tenille had a huge hit with "Love Will Keep Us Together."

    David Bowie & Mick Jagger did "Dancin' In the Street" sometime in the '80s. (So did Van Halen, IIRC). James Taylor did "How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You," Linda Ronstadt did "Heatwave," Phil Collins did "You Can't Hurry Love." The Black Crowes rocked Otis Redding's "Hard to Handle," and his "I Can't Turn You Loose" was the theme song of the Blues Brothers.

    I think you could put together a nice "greatest covers" package of just the Beatles and Stones doing Motown songs.

  24. #23

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    Is Post Malone like post bop?

  25. #24

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    This is the first I've heard of Post Malone. I like it.

  26. #25

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    Malone is an artist;

    "Cocaine on the table, liquor pourin', don't give a damn
    Dude, your girlfriend is a groupie, she just tryna get in
    Sayin', "I'm with the band"
    Ayy, ayy, now she actin' outta pocket
    Tryna grab up from my pants
    Hundred bitches in my trailer say they ain't got a man
    And they all brought a friend
    Yeah, ayy"

    This isn't a vocal effect to create the tremelo;



    Interesting interview;


  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevebol
    Malone is an artist;

    "Cocaine on the table, liquor pourin', don't give a damn
    Dude, your girlfriend is a groupie, she just tryna get in
    Sayin', "I'm with the band"
    Ayy, ayy, now she actin' outta pocket
    Tryna grab up from my pants
    Hundred bitches in my trailer say they ain't got a man
    And they all brought a friend
    Yeah, ayy"

    This isn't a vocal effect to create the tremelo;



    Interesting interview;

    Funny he mentioned Bon Scott... I guess it makes him feel super cool to show that he knows who the guy was? Thanks to subtitles I can actually understand what they sayin... Maybe they should call it lame-hop.

  28. #27

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    ^^^
    Rockstar is a blues to me.

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hep To The Jive
    Funny he mentioned Bon Scott... I guess it makes him feel super cool to show that he knows who the guy was? Thanks to subtitles I can actually understand what they sayin... Maybe they should call it lame-hop.
    "The unofficial YouTube video for the track's audio, released by Republic Records, is a three-minute-and-38-second loop of solely the song's chorus.[10] Therefore, the song was able to receive equivalent downloads without featuring the entirety of the song, which some attributed to its number-one spot on the Hot 100.[11] Some called it a "clever marketing scheme", while others believed it was a trick or a loophole."

    The theme in the chorus is a sharp contrast to the rest of the song.
    The chorus starts with- "Cocaine on the table..."
    He's talking to a friend.
    "Dude your girlfriend is a groupie...

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevebol
    ^^^
    Rockstar is a blues to me.
    I'm sorry, can't get on board with that. Everything about modern hip hop rubs me the wrong way. Starting with so-called music, and finish with aesthetics and fashion style. I just can't stand the whole culture of it.

    Except.. this kind of rap is good in my book:


  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hep To The Jive
    I'm sorry, can't get on board with that. Everything about modern hip hop rubs me the wrong way. Starting with so-called music, and finish with aesthetics and fashion style. I just can't stand the whole culture of it.

    Except.. this kind of rap is good in my book:

    Anarchy - Wikipedia

    No leaders, no genres.



    It's the new music business.

  32. #31

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    He wrote good music once upon a time. It'd be nice if he showed the young'uns how it's done by pumping out some vibrant new stuff, instead of touring on 40-year-old hits. When's the last time he really moved the needle on songwriting? The mid-70s?

    Love his old music, don't care for his old attitude.

  33. #32

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    A bad Elton John/Bernie Taupin song sung by a young singer would probably be better than what's out there now in pop.

  34. #33

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    Different era when developing songwriters had support from record companies and publishers. Elton and his peers didn't have to scrub toilets and then find the time to work on their craft.

  35. #34

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    I've been Feeling Whitney lately;


  36. #35

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    I think the collaboration with Leon Russell (2010's "The Union") was very good.

    Here's "Hey, Ahab," an Elton John / Bernie Taupin tune.


  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thumpalumpacus
    He wrote good music once upon a time. It'd be nice if he showed the young'uns how it's done by pumping out some vibrant new stuff, instead of touring on 40-year-old hits. When's the last time he really moved the needle on songwriting? The mid-70s?

    Love his old music, don't care for his old attitude.

    No, he had some big hits in the 80's and 90's too.

    Most composers hit a wall at some point, even when its "adult" music like classical or jazz. And when the music you write is targeted to the young (like almost all pop and especially rock), it probably gets even more difficult to identify with, when you're not so young anymore...

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt
    No, he had some big hits in the 80's and 90's too.

    Most composers hit a wall at some point, even when its "adult" music like classical or jazz. And when the music you write is targeted to the young (like almost all pop and especially rock), it probably gets even more difficult to identify with, when you're not so young anymore...
    Sure, he had some big hits. I was speaking to the quality of the songs, rather than the popularity. To my ears, none of the hits he penned later measure up to his earlier work, particularly 70-75. Was it me growing old? Perhaps. Or perhaps it was me learning better the ins and outs of music in general and songwriting in particular. Or perhaps it was me defining better my own tastes.

    Whatever it is, it's been decades since a new song of his moved me to plunk down ducats.

  39. #38

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    I thought there were some excellent numbers on his noughties albums, "Songs from the West Coast" and "Captain and the Kid". Sure, Elton's voice isn't as flexible as it once was but when he puts in an effort, the songwriting and playing skills are still there.

    It's pretty hard for any performer to avoid their back catalogue (Bowie tried for a period and soon succumbed). Elton strikes me as someone with very catholic music tastes and a voracious appetite for discovering new music and artists. So rather than a case of "get off my lawn", I interpret his comments as more an indication of a deeper malaise in the industry.

  40. #39

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    A few people ----not calling anyone out; this is a more general point----have suggested that Elton wrote some good songs way back when but hasn't been so hot lately, so who does he think he is talking about what songwriters today should be doing.

    I call this the "Lately" perspective. In short, you haven't done anything lately so who cares what you think?

    I prefer the "Ever" perspective. If you've ever done something great---such as write a great song, or more especially, an album's worth of great songs---I think you know a lot more about songwriting than everyone who is more "with it" now but who hasn't done anything great himself (or herself). Like an old golfer who won major championships in his day: he can't play like that anymore but he knows the game better than any amateur watching it, and better than most young pros playing it. Writing music / songs is a skill; being young is happenstance.


    I don't think Elton is always right. (I don't think anyone is always right.) But I think he has earned the right to speak as someone who knows what it is like to write a great song and make a great record. He also knows what it is like to do lasting work; he's done a lot of it. Those who have done neither but dismiss him as 'old man yelling at cloud' sound strange to me.

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    I prefer the "Ever" perspective. If you've ever done something great---such as write a great song, or more especially, an album's worth of great songs---I think you know a lot more about songwriting than everyone who is more "with it" now but who hasn't done anything great himself (or herself).
    How do you define "an album's worth of great songs", though? The topic is inherently subjective, which is exactly why Elton's rant strikes me as an old-man-and-the-cloud phenomenon.

    I'm not a huge fan of modern music, but even less am I a fan of any argument from authority. Groundbreaking four decades ago doesn't mean brilliant today.

  42. #41

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    Pop is headed in the right direction with Post Malone, Lil Dicky and Cardi B. Malone is the one who can change things as far as more conventional songwriting. Some people say they're going to learn guitar after hearing 'Feeling Whitney'.
    Elton John is a great singer. He's entitled to some old man rants and so is Quincy Jones.

    Pop is weird. It shouldn't be formulaic.

  43. #42

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    Yep, when it comes to hip hop there is no shortage of inspiring guitar work. Lil Dicky, Lil Wayne, which one? Dont matter, they all can be guitar gods.


  44. #43

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    I think Elton is still writing some great tunes.

    Post Malone? Not for me.

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hep To The Jive
    Yep, when it comes to hip hop there is no shortage of inspiring guitar work. Lil Dicky, Lil Wayne, which one? Dont matter, they all can be guitar gods.


    Awesome - my hero! Move over Wes and George. Thanks so much for that clip!

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt
    Awesome - my hero! Move over Wes and George. Thanks so much for that clip!
    You're very welcome! It's amazing how underappreciated some guitarists are. Yes, watch out George Benson, you cant ignore Lil Dickey no more, there is a new sheriff in town.

    For the new blood Post Malone is up and coming. I mean Russel Malone was good no doubt about it, but Post Malone is whats up!

  47. #46

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    Genre haters...

  48. #47

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    Genre is just the French word for style.

    I didn't see style or skill in that guitar playing. And no "hate" necessary. (the most overused word in America).

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hep To The Jive
    Yep, when it comes to hip hop there is no shortage of inspiring guitar work. Lil Dicky, Lil Wayne, which one? Dont matter, they all can be guitar gods.

    The American audience might be turning Japanese..



  50. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt
    Genre is just the French word for style.

    I didn't see style or skill in that guitar playing. And no "hate" necessary. (the most overused word in America).
    C'mon, man, don't be so harsh. He used three notes in that solo!

  51. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thumpalumpacus
    I'm not a huge fan of modern music, but even less am I a fan of any argument from authority. Groundbreaking four decades ago doesn't mean brilliant today.

    You see this as an argument from authority ("I'm the boss and I say so.") I see it as a matter of competence. Elton John is actually a very good songwriter. He knows how to do that. I don't expect the judgment of people who haven't written a bunch of good songs to be as good as that as someone who has. (Judgment about songwriting.)

    Competent people have their limitations, of course, but so does everyone else. Given that we are ALL limited, there's a prima facie case to make for the heuristic of giving more weight to the judgments of competent people than those who are incompetent or whose competence is unknown. This is why serious music students want to study with great teachers. It's possible that some unknown player is great and a great teacher too, but the odds are long against that. (And if the person is truly a great player and teacher, word will get around. And that word will matter to the extent that those spreading it are seen as competent.)