My ramble on Quincy Jones, memories of Michael Jackson, and songwriting

February 7, 2018

Jones’ Interview – warning swearing Just read an interesting interview with Quincy Jones. If you don’t know who he is – he was Michael Jackson’s producer. It was a cool...

Jones’ Interview – warning swearing

Just read an interesting interview with Quincy Jones. If you don’t know who he is – he was Michael Jackson’s producer. It was a cool interview in the sense of hearing how Frank Sinatra fought racism in the industry. We can all learn a lot of veterans of the industry like him. I would love to sit and have a cup of tea with a guy like him – totally no hands barred. But there is a lot I disagree with him and one subject is the Music Industry. Be sure to read the article — interesting man.

One thing that really struck me was that he really believes that that industry is done. I agree in the sense that the industry that he knew is done. The days of needing a big label and all that jazz is over and I can say Thank God loud enough. I couldn’t imagine being in an industry where I as the maker of my art really didn’t have say in what I do. To me, I would never be able to create anything that way – probably why there weren’t that many singer/songwriters around like now. I’ve said it many times before, and I will say it again — the internet has created an equal playing field for musicians. You no longer to rely on waiting for someone else to discover you – you just need you, a product (your music) and a good cell phone. The internet is the great equalizer (yes, I’m quoting Gary Vaynerchuk). If you have the drive and hustle – you can do it. Yes success as an indi artist is very different today but it is the artist’s success – much more satisfying. So ya, he’s right – his music industry is dead (an industry where I would have never had a chance) – but mine is alive and well and growing! I can’t wait to see what the next 50 years will bring.

I also felt that he was unnecessary cruel to Michael Jackson – we all know his dad was horrid (question – if Jones know Michael was being abused –why didn’t he protect Michael or help him deal with the trauma — i can think of one reason $$ – if I’m wrong wonderful but I don’t remember reading anything about it)  and if Michael did steal compositions – then why didn’t Jones do something about it at the time. No use crying over split milk or let those composers come forward. I believe I read that they did and were disclaimed in court — if Jones knew something else — why didn’t he do anything at the time …. is this guilt? No idea but I believe unnecessary.

I’m also believe that Michael’s children have suffered enough losing their Father and all the crazyness surrounding his death and life. I can’t imagine reading that as his kids — it was really unnecessary. And as fan, we’ve heard the rumors and nastyness enough — let the man rest in peace. Let’s enjoy the music.  I will always remember the first time I heard Michael’s Billie Jean. It came out when I was five years old so I couldn’t be more than six years old. I was sitting in a coffee shop and it came on. I was sipping on a strawberry milkshake – I was so move by the texture, harmonies, and rhythms that I bit my straw cracking it. I asked my mom who it was — my mother, always the classical musician, who was not a fan lol and went into one of her rants on popular music (wonder where I get my rants from lol). Later, I remember asking one of my older cousins about Michael — he turned out to be his biggest fan (like HUGE Fan lol I remember my dad, my uncle and I picking him up from school and my cousin was only wearing one glove). My cousin introduced me to Michael’s other music and the glamour that is Michael  — now that I think of it — probally inspired the rock edge in my fashion. It is amazing how one song can hold so many wonderful memories – now that’s the power of a great song.

Image result for michael jacksonWhich leads me to one part of Jone’s view that I really agree with —  his thoughts on pop music – the art of a great song in the main stream pop world is fading – very rare do you find one that is built on a strong melodic structure, harmony, and tells a great story.

“Hell no. It’s just loops, beats, rhymes and hooks. What is there for me to learn from that? There ain’t no fucking songs. The song is the power; the singer is the messenger. The greatest singer in the world cannot save a bad song. I learned that 50 years ago, and it’s the single greatest lesson I ever learned as a producer. If you don’t have a great song, it doesn’t matter what else you put around it.” Jones stated

Reminds me of when I was chatting with a pop producer who told me that lyric simplification is necessary in pop music because people are stupid. I will always remember what my highschool English tutor told me when I told her I was going into education: “students are only as smart or stupid as you treat them. If you treat them like they are smart – they will be smart! If you treat them like they are stupid – they will be!” I think that’s the problem with the world – we all make assumptions about each other instead of challenging ourselves to walk a mile in eachother’s shoes.

So my fellow songwriters — let’s inspire let’s create! Learn from the past and grow!

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