Saturday, January 29, 2011

What Every Artist Can Learn From The Joshua Tree


1987. Regan was still president, Beverly Hills Cop 3 was at the movies, and a little band named U2 released an album titled “Joshua Tree”.  Joshua Tree is considered by many music critics as one of the greatest rock records of all time. Not only are there gaudy album sales to prove this album was special, but amazingly artist after artist and band after band continue to list this record as a major influence twenty-four years later. Cool. Fine. Great…but why?
Great songs are everything!
When I sit down and start listening to songs like, “Where The Streets Have No Name” or “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” I don’t notice how bad the bass tone is or how sloppy the drums are. I hear huge energy, great lyrics and above all amazing melody. How in the world can a recording be that “bad” and yet are considered as an all time classic? Honestly the answer is quite simple. Great songs. Great songs can make fans forgive a band for a bad live show. (Watch the band Keane live sometime) Great songs can help listeners ignore a terrible singer. (Bob Dylan, please forgive me.)  And in U2’s case great songs help us forgive a pretty bad recording. If you don’t have great songs then you have absolutely nothing.
Most independent artists are under the impression that the unobtainable “hit” song is written by a mysterious person born with super human musical genius in just five minutes. Then simply recorded in thirty minutes and then sent to radio. This is nowhere close to reality. Trust me when I say even the most talented songwriters are very human. Writing a great song is a fight! It’s pushing through and not letting yourself settle for that “just OK“ melody or lyric. It’s finding all the parts of the song that your gut tells you are just OK and replacing them with something that excites you. My producer friend Lynn Nichols says it best when he says, “Great songs are not written. They are re-written”.  Don’t be afraid to tear apart your songs and rewrite them.  I guarantee that’s just what they need.

Written by: Blake Easter

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