Battle: Dying To Be A Memorable Musician

By: Indie

This will be a sensitive subject, and is in no way intended to offend anyone; just an observation on how our society chooses its icons. I’ve heard the argument that the majority of influential musicians die young. Is this really the case, or are we merely brainwashed, whoring ourselves to the concept of supply. When you can’t get the girl, her fragrance is heavenly and the sound of her voice is angelic. If you land her, the flame eventually dies down, but if you’re left forever wanting then she’ll go down as your White Whale. iPod announces the revolutionary iPhone and people line up to buy it because “hey, I’ve got to get mine before they sell out.” Realistically, Apple could easily supply enough for everyone to purchase whenever they’d like, but what does that do for demand? The chance you won’t get it becomes the impetus for the sale.

So John Lennon goes down as one of the most profound musicians to grace the planet. Paul McCartney, on the other hand, remains listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most successful musician/composer in the history of popular music. At the height of the Lennon/McCartney partnership, the two were friendly rivals; for every “Imagine” that Lennon wrote, McCartney kept pace with a song like “Yesterday.” With Lennon’s untimely death our supply was halted, and his status rose to that of a folkloric immortal. McCartney continued releasing music, most recently his record on the Starbucks label. The reviews weren’t great, and most critics feel if it weren’t for the clout of being on Starbucks and the genius associated with his name, the record wouldn’t even be a blip on the radar. We never lost our supply, so he’s simply Paul McCartney now, while John Lennon, is LENNON.

No one made that big of a deal over Nick Drake while he was alive. Elliott Smith has a cult-like following, Jeff Buckley went down as one of the most influential singer/songwriters of our time, and both men died tragically in their prime. What happens if they were still alive, able to pull a McCartney – continuously making music for the love of it, with the genius that propelled them to greatness slowly trickling away – would they still be seen in the same light? I don’t think 2Pac and Biggie still go down as the greatest rappers of all-time if they would have fallen into the Bling and Whips trend? I could just imagine it now, Biggie with a grill. With all do respect, and may eh rest in peace, but Big Pun was never very good. So, if James Taylor met his end after recording Sweet Baby James would my children be going to James Taylor High School? As we wet ourselves over this on-demand world we’ve created, we can’t forget the exaggerated greatness that comes with scarcity.

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