A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Grit

My Maths teacher, 30 plus years ago, walked up to the black board and wrote 70% and 30% on it.

He then walked away from the blackboard and started talking. We called him the Duffster or Toupee in the playground, but always addressed him as Sir in class.

So he starts telling us that everything in life is 70% perspiration and 30% inspiration. And he spoke about how digging in and persevering is more important than everything else.

And those words stuck with me my whole life. I don’t know from whom he got that quote or those numbers. He never mentioned a source. Maybe it was his own interpretation of something he read like genius is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration. But what is interesting is how the billion dollar self-development industry is making a lot of money retelling history in an attempt to inspire people to be better versions of themselves. As if people don’t have a natural bias to want to be better versions of themselves.

As we get older, we change and evolve from the versions of our past selves. Even if we’ve hit the dirt and fallen on hard times, we are still better than before. Because we have experienced different things and maybe we never found the promised land that we thought we would find, we still have grown.

I’ve heard about “Grit” and read the book by Angela Duckworth, watched the Ted talks and did the survey.

And all I could think off was these lyrics from “Stay Hungry” by Dee Snider;

If your fire is faded and you can’t feel it no more
If you’re tired and overrated, let me show you to the door
Expect no sympathy, there’s none to be had
Open your eyes and see
There’s no room for the wannabees, the has beens or the bad

It’s the definition of hunger to succeed. There is no helicoptering parents and if you want love there’s the door because that dream your chasing has no room for pretenders.

And to rise higher, everyone has to go beyond what came naturally to them since birth. The more we grow in our skills, the more we have to give.

Because to be high performers you need to develop habits and consistently execute them. Twisted Sister developed the habit to gig relentlessly. And they got better at performing, that they became the live act to see.

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A to Z of Making It, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, Unsung Heroes

Desmond Child

If you grew up on hard rock music from the late seventies to the mid 90’s, you need to listen to this podcast on Desmond Child. He’s one of this songwriters behind the biggest hard rock songs.

He formed a band called “Night Child” and changed his name to Desmond Child. He was in the band “Rouge” and Paul Stanley saw em live after seeing the flyer on a telegraph post in NYC. No other connection, just a flyer. After the show, Stanley and Child spoke and agreed to write a song together, which became “I Was Made For Loving You”.

Child turned up to SIR studios. Kiss are rehearsing. The other band members break for lunch and Stanley and Child sit around a grand piano and the shell of the song is written. Then Stanley took it and finished the song with Vini Ponica. In between writing it and before it came out, Child had no other contact with the band until it came out. And when Child heard it, it was better than what he ever expected, which goes to show how a band performance can take a simple demo and make it sound like Kiss.

Like it or not, it’s the most played song from Kiss on Spotify and for me “Dynasty” is one of those albums I had on LP and played to death and really like.

“Heavens On Fire” was the song that hooked Jon Bon Jovi, which Jovi sort of rewrote and called “In And Out Of Love”. Think of the Chorus “In and out of love” and “feel my heat”. Paul Stanley also told Child to write with Jovi and Sambora because Jovi was opening for Kiss and they are good guys. Again, if you grew up in the 80’s there was no escaping these songs.

In between this period, he did an apprenticeship with Bob Crewe (a song writer behind massive 60’s and 70’s hits) for 2 years, sort of like how all the great painters and composers from the past did apprenticeships with the great painters and composers before them. And Crewe told him, you cannot start writing a song, until you have a KILLER title. And then you write the lyrics to the Chorus first. Because that would tell you what the verses would be like. Child and Crewe wrote 38 songs together but nothing came out of them and he got a deal with Epic Records as a solo artist which fizzled out.

But before he started to work with Jovi, Child got a call from Jim Steinman who was working with Bonnie Tyler, and he wrote a song called “If You Were A Woman And I Was A Man”. The song was only a hit in France and Child was pissed that it wasn’t a worldwide hit because he new he had a hook and an awesome riff verse.

Child was still living off the royalties from “I Was Made For Loving You”.

So Child goes to Richie Sambora’s parents house in Jersey to write with Richie and Jon in the damp and musty laundry room.

And Child walked in with a killer title, “You Give Love A Bad Name”. He told the guys the title, and Jon Bon Jovi, delivered that million dollar smile. Jovi was sold on the title and he mentioned to Child how he had a song called “Shot Through The Heart” and the hook was good, so he wanted to reuse it. And like that, Jovi said “Shot through the heart and your to blame” and all three of them said, “You give love a bad name” in unison. The vocal melody is the same as the Bonnie Tyler cut and the verse riff is the same as the Bonnie cut.

That was the only song written that day and another session was organised in NYC where “Livin On A Prayer” was written, along with “Edge Of A Broken Heart” and one more. They also wrote a song called “We All Sleep Alone” which Jovi said was more of a feminine song and it ended up with Cher. Child mentions how Bruce Fairbairn’s production brought the songs to life and he knew they had a good album with good songs, but no one knew how it was going to translate commercially.

But he did mention how everyone from band management, label reps and distributors and MTV were all on board and aligned to push this album.

After, he started getting calls to write songs for other artists, but he couldn’t get a producer gig and he wanted to write songs and produce the song/record. It’s how he got the Alice Cooper “Trash” record. Alice Cooper’s team wanted the songs, Child stuck to his guns and said if you want my songs, you also hire me as a producer and Alice Cooper did and was back in the charts. He started working with Aerosmith because of the one and only John Kalodner. The “Done With Mirrors” album was a commercial dud, and Kalodner wanted an outside writer.

Tyler and Perry played him a guitar loop and Tyler sang the hook, “Cruising for the ladies”. Child told them it was terrible. Then Tyler said, when he was originally singing that hook, it was “Dude Looks Like A Lady” and all cylinders fired for Child, because the title had that sense of irony he was used to from his Bob Crewe days. And Vince Neil is that dude who looked like the lady but that was already old news. “Angel” was the next song written and Child was one of the first outside writers to write with Aerosmith.

But Child still wanted to be the star. He made an album called “Discipline” in 1991 but it did nothing and he felt it was because he wasn’t honest with himself.

Child did a catalogue sale in 1996 to Polygram Publishing, who now “own” the bulk of the songs he wrote from 1996 and before.

For Child, it was hard to find work at this time, as most of the bands he worked with were doing best off records and Child was basically broke. Imagine that, the co-writer of the biggest songs in the last decade was broke.

And then he got an offer to sell his catalogue. So Child sold, the writers and publishers share to Polygram and kept the performance royalty. The money from this sale allowed Child to pay off his debts, build a studio, start the next phase of his career, produce bands and take risks with other songs and to this day he still has money left over from that sale.

There are a lot of stories. And there was a period that if I saw a song on an album with Desmond Child as a co-writer, I would buy it. Because the dude had proved himself, over and over again.

The whole pod cast is 2 hours long. Here is the Spotify link.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Do Anything You Want To

My first Lizzy album was “Thunder and Lightning” because it had Sykes on it, and it was purchased a few years after the 87 Whitesnake album blew up all over the world. So “Thunder and Lightning” got me into Lizzy, because of Skyes and suddenly I started picking up their older records on vinyl when I came across them.

A “Black Rose: A Rock Legend” was album number 9 for the Lizzy. I didn’t end up hearing this until well into the 90’s and the only reason why I picked it up at a record fair was because Gary Moore stayed in the band long enough to record something, before he walked out on em again, like how he did in 74 and 77.

The drum and bass intro is enough to get me going and when the harmony guitars kick in, I was sold. It’s written by Phil Lynott and man, can he write a good lyric.

There are people that will investigate you
They’ll insinuate, intimidate and complicate you

Do you ever feel like you don’t fit in and that everybody else is too busy betraying you so they can get ahead?

Or they are passing judgement on you, telling you to do this, change this, if you don’t do this you will lose your job or if you don’t pay on time, you will lose your place.

My dad said to me once that people will disappoint you especially family. And now that you know that, don’t get angry when they do and you can still be friends.

You can do anything you want to do
It’s not wrong what I’m saying, it’s true

It’s the same war cry as the “We’re Not Gonna Take It” war cry from the mid 80’s. We needed to hear this back then. Today, these kinds of messages has become a billion dollar book industry, like “The Talent Code”, “Growth Mindset”, “Grit”, “Outliers”, “Peak”, “Bounce” and on and on it goes.

All of these scholars are sending the same message, if you put enough dedicated time into practice which is at the outer limits of your ability, you will learn a skill and get better. Nobody is born with a gift. That gift or natural ability people talk about is crafted and mastered through years of dedicated practice. So as Lynott was saying all along, you can do anything you want to.

People that despise you
Will analyse then criticise you
They’ll scandalise and tell lies until they realise you
Are somebody they should’ve apologised to
Don’t let these people compromise you

I like to hang with people, talk about things we like and exchange ideas. And sometimes I listen to people who don’t have a clue about anything and they just won’t shut up. And then there are people who know everything and they just won’t shut up. And in amongst these groups are people who want to break you, spread lies about you, criticise you or shake you down.

And if you want to be famous, expect the haters. You cannot be liked by everyone. It’s impossible. If you don’t want the haters, then recalibrate your expectations.

Hey you
You’re not that puppet on a string
You can do everything
It’s true

But a lot of people don’t believe they can do everything because they get caught up in a vicious cycle of borrowing to live and becoming puppets on a string to the various corporations they own money to.

Culture and society also fosters a fixed mindset and after so many years of being conditioned to follow, it’s hard to believe that you have the tools and abilities to lead.

I am sure people have heard things like; “You can’t play <insert the sport here like football> because no one played <insert the sport here> in the family. We are doctors, we are educated and that’s what you will be”.

Or “Why <insert arts field here like music>, you need to study, to get a job which pays the bills.”

It takes a few generations to break these kinds of mindsets. It took the military until the 1990’s to stop the hazing rituals of new recruits because they just didn’t work in creating brilliant recruits.

Elvis is dead
The king of rock and roll is dead

It’s fitting that the song ends with these words as Elvis’s death was still fresh in 1979, because in the end Elvis did what he wanted.

He sang black man music when he was told not to sing it. He danced and moved in a provocative way when he was told not to. He went into making movies when he was told to stick with music. He stopped making movies and went back to music when he was told to stick with movies. He did a Vegas residency when he was told to go on tour around the country. The king of rock and roll did what he wanted to do. And so can you.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Value

When you create something, what value do you attach to that creation?

I like wine and the experience with wine is like music, totally subjective and personal. I even like drinking wine with music. A bitter shiraz for the more heavier and thrashier Metal, a smooth Cabernet Merlot blend for hard rock music, a spicy Cabernet Sauvignon for heavier and progressive rock and a Merlot for my favorite guitar solos.

A winemaker makes a wine and believes it’s worth a $100 a bottle. It doesn’t mean it’s really worth that much to the public, but to the winemaker who put their blood, sweat and tears in making it, it is worth that much.

The artists who put their blood, sweat and tears into their works also believe their works are valuable.

But the winemakers can test the market with prices. Eventually that wine bottle will hit a price and people will buy it, because alcohol is alcohol and we like to consume alcohol (well the majority does) and it’s a billion dollar industry in each country. Basically alcohol sells. Period.

So the winemaker releases the wine at $99 a bottle and nothing. No one is interested.

The winemaker reduces it by 20% and a few sales come, but not enough.

The winemaker reduces it by another 20% to $55 and still the sales are not enough.

Suddenly the winemaker is faced with a dilemma.

Do they go down to 60% off the normal price they wanted per bottle and see how it performs in the market place or do they stick to their guns and keep it at $55?

Well after careful thinking and planning, the winemaker is in the business of selling wines, so they go down to $45 and suddenly people are interested in trying this wine, 60% off its normal retail price. It’s a smart marketing move and people are suckered in by these kinds of deals.

And they sell out of wines, believing they have a customer base and that the next wine they release will sell out like this one. But it doesn’t sell out. Actually no one is really aware of the next releases because people like drinking wine not the brand.

Only a few brands have become household names in wine making around the world and people wait each year for their next release.

But for the rest of the winemakers, they start from scratch with each release, mining their email lists for sales, using online wine distributors for sales and so forth. And people buy wine without trying it based on the label on the bottle, the grapes used and maybe some reviews or awards. Like how we used to buy music without hearing it.

If we lived in the old CD distribution world and we had to purchase CDs to hear music, I would have purchased a lot more CD’s or LP’s than I do right now just based on covers and interviews.

But after hearing the album on streaming services I decided to not purchase the album, like the new Tool album, the recent Revolution Saints and Sons Of Apollo albums or from a few years back, the only album missing from my Dream Theater collection is “Distance Over Time”. Maybe I will get around to adding it to my collection but then again as I get older I don’t have the same need to have a complete collection.

So in all of this, the value an artist attaches to their work is never the same value the public sees in the work or wants to pay for the work.

A fan of your music will stream it and those streaming payments will be the value that part of the public attached to your works. Other fans will buy the physical releases and that’s the value they attach while others will either download it for free or pay for digital downloads or attend a show if you Tour.

Each fan is unique in their connection to you and the monies they are prepared to spend on you.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

2112

It’s back in the charts.

Death is a business and the death of a member always gets new people listening because of curiosity and old fans reminiscing about the album which we all know, was a make or break album for the band.

If there is a lesson here, it’s to do things your way. Don’t give up your vision and your identity and stay true to yourself. This viewpoint led Rush to a 40 plus year career.

And they’ve sold more albums recently than new releases have in the last week.

As the article states;

From January 10th through January 16th, the band sold 24,600 albums in the U.S., an increase of more than 1,000 percent compared with the previous week. The “2112” LP led the way, moving 12,800 total album units last week.

As for streaming, it’s as expected with “Tom Sawyer”, “Limelight”, “The Spirit of Radio” and “YYZ” leading the way. Because what else would the Spotify algorithm recommend except the most listened to songs.

And the “2112” story about a musician in an oppressive regime gets all the attention, but “A Passage To Bangkok”, “Tears” and “Twilight Zone” are also worthy.

That guitar riffs from “A Passage To Bangkok” gets me to pick up the guitar. The intro riff is a great riff and the movable D shape chord progression in the Chorus.

“Tears” has that F major to A major chord progression with an unbelievable vocal melody.

“Twilight Zone” has that Am7 riff in the Chorus when Geddy is singing “Na Na Na, you have entered the twilight zone” section which always gets me to stop and pay attention. It’s the mood.

But the best part is Alex Lifeson’s emotive guitar solo from about the 17 minute mark in “2112”.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Copyright Just Keeps On Giving

Copyright is the gift that just keeps on giving.

Remember how copyright is meant to protect the creator so they have a monopoly on their work, with the aim to be paid if the work is popular. A lot of artists create works which are not popular and as such, their monopoly on their copyrights have no value.

However, in this case, the creator gets a stroke and other people allegedly forge the creators signature to transfer the rights to corporations who seem to benefit.

The Seinfield creators couldn’t even come up with this kind of a story. You can add elder abuse to the list for Copyright court cases.

The other big one is Ed Sheeren and his song, “Thinking Out Loud”. You see even if Sheeren did copy a Marvin Gaye song, the song should have been in the public domain anyway because both Gaye and his co-writer are dead. Then again the labels wanted these kind of perpetual laws many years ago and now they are getting bitten in the ass.

And companies like Structured Asset Sales, founded by an investment banker called David Pullman exist by purchasing a lot of copyrights from the children of these creators many years ago and now we have this stupidity of suing people.

And as usual, Copyright is already benefiting the corporations who create nothing and now it is benefiting the heirs of artists who create nothing, to sue the creators who create something.

But if you really want to know how the recording industry via the RIAA caused this mess, then read this article over at Techdirt.

Nothing is original especially in music which has mass appeal. No artist writes music without being exposed to music. Everyone is working from the same instruments and the same chords.

And the courts now cannot make a distinction between influence and theft. It’s set the precedent that all influence is theft. And the labels went with that for decades only to be sued over the last 10 years from heirs of dead artists.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy

Under My Copyright

I haven’t done one of these Copyright posts for a while because there has been too much information going around and I couldn’t decide what to write about. Like GNR suing an hardcore fan for leaking demos of “Chinese Democracy” or Kate Perry being accused of copying an artist that no one has heard off.

But then Public Domain 2020 happened and suddenly I was interested in Copyright stories again.

So I started with something close to home.

Australia was once on the US watchlist for countries who consumed content illegally. So the US government pressured our government to get tough on illegal downloads. But everyone just kept on saying, offer enough legal alternatives at the right price and people will take it up. So is it any real surprise that Australians are now taking up these legal options.

Remember that Copyright was created for the artists to have an incentive to create more works. According to Blink-182s Tom DeLonge, this means selling your publishing rights to a corporation for a hefty fee. Of course he’s not the only one. All of our favorite and popular artists have done it. This one is strange because DeLonge even said “he now has an incentive to create more”. And I’m thinking, really.

But the best one is The Rolling Stones along with Abkco Music and Records, dropping 75 rare recordings onto YouTube, hours before they were going to enter the Public Domain in Europe. Actually it was Abkco that uploaded them to YouTube.

And just in case people tried to copy the recordings, Abkco added a dial-tone to obscure the sound and after 24 hours moved the recordings from the public site to a private, invite-only site.

Basically if Abkco didn’t release the recordings within 50 years after they were made, they would lose the copyright. The Beatles and Bob Dylan have done something similar in the past. And if a YouTube post is deemed eligible as a release then Abkco’s copyright term will last until the end of 2089. I guess Abkco has an incentive to create. There’s nothing better than a corporation have the copyrights of a song for 120 years.

And you know the saying if you have a hit expect a writ. Miley Cyrus released a song called “We Can’t Stop” and it went to Number 2 on the charts. It was kept out of number 1 by “Blurred Lines” from Robin Thicke.

Both songs got served with writs and have settled. Cyrus settled before it went to verdict and Thicke at trial with the Gaye family.

The song that was number 3 on the charts better watch out. Someone is after them.

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