'Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.'
The above quote comes from Samuel Beckett's 'Worstward Ho,' as quoted in an interesting essay in the New York Times Sunday by Geoff Edward Nicholson, who tries to evaluate when 'prolific writing' is merely too much writing. He suggest writers, in these modern times, who churn out even a book a year -- if not three or more -- aim for more 'low end' markets. Serious stuff is less frequent. He mocks his own writing pace -- 20 books in 22 years -- at the same time.
How does that apply to rock music?
One of the great tragedies of the CD era was the death of the 'album' as we long knew it. When we opened the gatefold record, studied art that bands spent lots of energy, time and money to create, and digested a 'musicial journey' of 43 minutes -- where thoughtful bands rewarded us -- like masterful DJs of their own tunes -- with nice song segways and thematic rise/falls, as on a Rush record.
That's pretty much gone now unless you're into the indiest of music. Album covers are reduced to postage-stamp sized blips on iTunes (better to have a red smear with a white mark than 'Sgt Peppers' concepts now), $0.99 song downloads that break up the album whole, and CDs' extended format merely led to more junk on albums that come out less frequently.
In Tall Tales -- FBO's #001 member -- we took pride in the mass of songs churned out. Cassette 'albums' of 30-plus minutes of new music coming out each year. When the Nixons -- a band that rose in the Norman scene for its covers of 'She Sells Sanctuary' and sexy haircuts -- switched to original material, we weren't impressed. Their EP was called '6,' named for the numbers of songs that came out, so Tall Tales -- foolishly, in my opinion -- bitterly rebutted by naming our CD debut after its length '69 Minutes' (it was actually 66 -- and half the songs had been previously recorded -- we've recommended repackaging the CD).
(Sorry 'bout that, Nixburg.)
Pop songs, unlike novels, are received by a more forgivable audience -- we accept a 2:3 ratio from bands. Two great songs for three so-so ones (and even a stinker) is generally OK. Still, the FBO asks for some sort of balance between something like former Guided By Voices' singer Robert Pollard's 'prolific' recording of uncensored, unedited mini-songs that fill new CDs every six months, and a band making a 60-minute CD every three or four years.
The listeners end up losing.
We stick, and recommend to new bands listening in, with the Sam Beckett creed: fail often, fail better.
Mobile/Semi-Permanent HQ -- Brooklyn, NY