A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Progress Is Derivative 3

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Good artists copy, great artists steal is the saying. We can paraphrase it to “Good artists try to sound original by hiding their influences”, while “great artists let their influences show”. It’s how the language of music is learned. We imitate our influences.

If you don’t believe me, what is the first thing a person does when they are learning an instrument?

We start by learning songs created by other artists.

Inspiration is not theft. Theft is me taking something and you not having it to use anymore, like your apple or your car. Taking a musical expression and using it in your own song is not theft, as the original musical expression is still there. Here are some examples of taking musical expressions and re-using them in different songs. And in each example, the original expression is still there.

  • Five Finger Death Punch in the verses of “Lift Me Up” paid homage to Ozzy’s vocal melody from “The Ultimate Sin”.
  • Megadeth in the verses of “Kingmaker” paid homage to Black Sabbath’s “Children of the Grave”.
  • Dave Mustaine wrote “This Was My Life” from his “Phantom Lord” progression that appears from about 2.30 to 3.10.
  • “Live Wire” from Motley Crue borrowed from Girlschool’s “Yeah Right”.
  • “My Sanctuary” from Unisonic released in 2012 has a vocal melody that is very similar to “A Flock Of Seagulls” song called “I Ran (So Far Away)” that was released in 1981.
  • “Hey Hey My My” from Neil Young, released in 1979 is very similar to the song “I’d Love To Change The World” from Ten Years After released in 1971. In addition the riff to Tom Petty’s “Refugee” from 1980 is also very similar to “I’d Love To Change The World.”
  • “Ten Black Roses” from The Rasmus released in 2008 borrows from Muse’s “Showbiz” released in 1998.
  • “Life is Beautiful” from Sixx AM released in 2007 borrows from Duran Duran’s “Come Undone” released in 1993.
  • Even the song “Come Undone” is an amalgamation of other songs. Duran Duran wrote a song called “First Impression” and guitarist Warren Cuccurullo was creating a re-interpretation of the song for a covers album the band was doing which would include some re-interpreted songs. The bass line and drum groove came from producer John Jones and a song demo he did called “Face to Face”.
  • The song “This Is It” from the band Staind released in 2011 has the chorus vocal melody that borrows from The Offspring’s “Gone Away” chorus melody.
  • “Shepherd Of Fire” borrows from everything. The fire and the bell at the start and the feedback riff with the evil tri-tone is influenced from the song “Black Sabbath”. The drum pattern is very “Trust” like from Megadeth which is based on based on AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”. The guitar riffs are also very Megadeth like and also based on “Trust” from “Cryptic Writings”. Yep, it’s perfect and it is a perfect example of the “progress is derivative” effect in action.

The list is just a summary of how the creative arts work.

We take what came before and we build on it. And for creativity to flourish and for cultures to grow like the British 60’s explosion, a healthy public domain is needed which means shorter copyright terms or even no copyright terms.

Copyright is never about paying artists/creators. Copyright was designed by the distributors (book publishers, record labels and movie studios) so who do you think benefits most from Copyright.

For centuries, the distributors have campaigned hard to promote how Copyright is there to help writers and artists. They have PR writers who tell the story of the poor artist who needs Copyright to pay the rent and how dare do people, copy a song instead of paying a price set by the industry for it. These PR writers have turning copying a song, (two songs exists) into theft (now product A is not in your possession).

Yes, Copyright operators do pay artists as a means to make it look like it’s doing the right thing, however more monies end up in the pockets of the organisations than artists.

And all of the great PR work the labels, movie studios and book publishers did in selling the copyright story is biting back at them, via the heirs of dead artists (who in reality should have no rights to songs they didn’t create) taking them to court with plagiarism law suits and what not.

Sort of like our governments who finance revolutionaries, only to have those revolutionaries rise up against their financiers once they seize power.

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

Progress Is Derivative – One Riff To Rule Them All

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Remember “Progress Is Derivative” means to take the best things of what has come before and merge it all together to come up with something new. In some cases it might sound similar to something in the past and in other cases it might sound unique, original and innovative. And the “One Riff To Rule Them All” is a perfect example of how so many songs can have the same riff conceptually and still be able to stand on their own.

One Riff To Rule Them All…
Yep, it’s the A pedal point riff… It all started with a motor city madman called Ted Nugent, and his song “Stranglehold” released in 1975 (actually it’s a bluesy groove that has been around for a lot longer before then). Since then, the riff has morphed to inspire the following songs.

  • “Hell Bent For Leather” by Judas Priest released in 1978.
  • The intro to “Swords and Tequila” from Riot released in 1981.
  • The main riff to “Never Surrender” by Saxon released in 1981.
  • The main riff to “Riding With Angels” by Samson (with Bruce Dickinson on vocals), released in 1981.
  • The main riff to “Hellbound” by Tygers of Pan Tang released in 1981.
  • The main riff for “Flash Rockin’ Man” by Accept released in 1982.
  • The Intro in “Curse Of The Pharaohs” from Mercyful Fate released in 1983.
  • The main riff in “Power And The Glory” from Saxon released in 1983.
  • The main riff to “Stand Up And Shout” from Dio released in 1983.
  • The main riff to “Seek And Destroy” by Raven released in 1983.
  • The intro and main riff in “Two Minutes To Midnight” from Iron Maiden released in 1984.
  • The main riff to “Heavy Metal Breakdown” by Grave Digger released in 1984.
  • The main riff to “Phantoms Of Death” by Helloween released in 1985.
  • The main riff to “Skin O My Teeth” by Megadeth released in 1992.
  • The main riff to “Break The Chains” from Tokyo Blade.
  • A small variation of “the riff to rule them all” morphed into “Welcome To Hell” from Venom released in 1981.
  • And this morphed into “Looks That Kill” from Motley Crue released in 1983 and became known as the Sunset Riff. So it was no surprise that other Sunset guitarists started using it.
  • “Young Girls” from Dokken in 1983 has a riff that’s similar.
  • “Tell The World” from Ratt, released in 1983 also has it.

I guess you can’t keep a good riff down. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Music is derivative. Always has been and always will be.

Ted Nugent’s originality in the 70’s is due to him writing derivative versions of blues grooves. There would be no metal music without rock and roll and there would be no rock and roll without country and blues. In the early blues (circa 30’s), copying and transforming was the norm. The same blues song would be recorded by different artists in different states. Sometimes, the titles would change. No lawyers got involved and especially no courts. In return, this allowed the blues sound to grow.

If you look at the bands above, they all built careers from the same patterned riff without a lawsuit to be seen.

What an amazing concept?

Stone Temple Pilots
Fans of Kiss smiled when they heard “Sex Type Thing” from Stone Temple Pilots. The main riff is influenced by “War Machine”. How strange it is, that one of Kiss’s heaviest songs is co-written by pop rock songwriters, Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance with Gene Simmons.

Motley Crue
The Chorus riff to “Ten Seconds to Love” sounds like it was influenced by a certain riff in “Rock & Roll” by The Plasmatics. Actually they sound the same, but who cares. Both are different songs and unique and as you all know, I am a fan of the “progress is derivative” viewpoint.

The Led Zeppelin Effect Again
The impact of “Immigrant Song” cannot be underestimated.

Recently I heard it in “Siberian Queen” (2012) from The Night Flight Orchestra. The drum pattern is Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” (1970) and the guitar riffs reference “Achilles Last Stand” in the intro and verse riff.

Meanwhile, John Sykes re-invented himself as Jimmy Page when he combined “Black Dog” with “Immigrant Song” in “Still Of The Night” (1987). In case you are not sure, it’s the riff that comes in after the intro singing.

Then there are the obvious clones of “Immigrant Song” in “Hold Her Tight” by The Osmonds (1972) and “Burning” by Sweet (1973).

Music is and always will be derivative. Enjoy.

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Ready An’ Willing

Coverdale posted on Twitter that 31 May is the 37 year anniversary of the “Ready An’ Willing” album. So I called it up on Spotify for a few relistens.

My Whitesnake fandom started with the 1987 album. It was my first introduction and I was hooked. It was so guitar heavy, yet accessible. Sometime after I had the album, I purchased the 7 inch single to “Give Me All Your Love” because of an unknown B-side track. The track in question is “Fool For Your Loving”. I got home, dropped the needle and I was shocked. It sounded like a garage demo compared to the polished 87 album.

But the song was good, so I was curious to hear more. The magazines of the time didn’t really talk much about the earlier part of Whitesnake, so I went to “Rings Music World” (our local record shop) with $10 in pocket change. I looked under “W” and all that was there was the 87 album. I went to the discount boxes and found the cassettes to “Ready An’ Willing” and “Saints And Sinners” for $5 each. So for $10 bucks I had some new tunes to listen to, albeit many years after their release.

The band is what makes Whitesnake roll so good during this period. Neil Murray on bass and Ian Paice on drums lay a solid groove and foundation. Jon Lord on keys is a bit more in the background, compared to his Deep Purple output, however he does offer some cool keys on “Aint Gonna Cry No More”. Micky Moody and Bernie Marsden on guitars are really unsung heroes and veterans of the stage by 1980, while David Coverdale brings it all together with his voice. Plus he’s a pretty cool bluesy guitar player, something he doesn’t get enough recognition for.

The album leads with “Fool For Your Loving”. The track was originally written for BB King and it went on to become Whitesnake’s first hit. I was asked by a friend which version do I like better, the 1980’s version or the 1989 version. My answer is both. The original version has that bluesy feel which I dig, while the 89 version has the Steve Vai modern feel which I also dig. Both are different, but the essence of the song is still there.

“Sweet Talker” is a breather before the sleaze and roll of the title track. “Ready An ‘Willing” has one of those addictive foot stomping grooves that still works today. It’s a timeless song, in the same way “Fool For Your Loving” is. While “Carry Your Load” has this Beatle’s vibe that sounds fresh, it’s “Blindman” which is the piece’de’resistance on this album.

“Blindman” is one of my favourite Whitesnake songs. Yeah it might sound similar to “Soldier Of Fortune”, but hey, that’s music. My wish would be for “Blindman” to achieve the same love as other Whitesnake songs.

Like a Blindman
I can feel the heat of the sun
But like a Blindman
I don’t know where it’s coming from

“Aint Gonna Cry No More” is White Led Zep Styx Snake and I swear Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades built Damn Yankees on the backs of songs like these. Influences aside, it’s a track that’s good enough to stand on its own.

“Love Man” is a 12 bar blues dirge. “Black and Blue” is another 12 bar blues rock and roll drinking style of song. “She’s A Woman” is “Black and Blue” part 2. Personally, the last three songs are pure filler, but the first six are not.

Happy 37th Birthday.

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The Night Flight Orchestra – Amber Galactic

“We sound like cocaine”
Bjorn Strid

If you have stopped by the blog previously, you will know of my appreciation for The Night Flight Orchestra.

“Amber Galactic” is their third release and their big label debut on Nuclear Blast.

It all started in 2012 with the excellent debut. “Internal Affairs”. It continued in 2015, with “Skyline Whispers” and in 2017, we have “Amber Galactic”. While we live in an era where the big bands don’t even take the stage without a huge investment up front from promoters and what not, it’s good to hear a band jamming and having fun.

“For me personally, song writing is one of my favourite jobs. This is something I do very often in my spare time. That’s why I always have a lot of songs lying around waiting to be realized. This time, I wrote half of the songs of “Amber Galactic”, Sebastian Forslund, our second guitarist, wrote three, Björn wrote two and “Domino” we wrote together when we were on tour bus in Austria.”
David Andersson 

Midnight Flyer

“When you find yourself on a night flight across the oceans, you’ve just left everything you love behind and once you land you know that nothing will ever be the same. You’ve got nothing left to lose, and you just want to escape reality, no matter the cost. A melancholic over the top party anthem, about the deep personal insights you can only get at 36,000 ft. with a stiff drink in your trembling hands, and the mysterious beauty that you hope will be there waiting for you when you arrive.”
Bjorn Strid 

It was the first song recorded for the album, the first single released to promote the album and it kicks the album off in a frantic style.

From the start, it reminds me of a cross between “Highway Star/Speed King” from Deep Purple and “Death Alley Driver” from Rainbow. The drum groove reminds me of a steroid versioned “Immigrant Song” from Led Zeppelin.

I remember reading an early interview that Deep Purple’s “Made In Japan” and “Made In Europe” are favourites and you can hear it in “Midnight Flyer”, how it builds from the keyboard intro, similar to how “You Fool No One” builds on the “Europe” live album or “Speed King” on the “Japan” live album.

I’m not leaving
I’m just going somewhere else
Far from the sighs and whispers
And the weakness of myself
Now is not the time
To think of all I’ve lost
There are skylines left to conquer
There are oceans left to cross

The work ethic of the TNFO members is high. Multiple bands mean more touring, more time in recording studios, more time song writing and lots of champagne. Meanwhile they are all trying to keep relationships going or families going.

I’m a midnight flyer rushing through the storm
I got lost without your loving and I can’t find my way home

I can’t function and get lost when all hell is breaking loose in my family/love life. We are all creatures of love and acceptance.

Star Of Rio
The guitar riff is infectious and the up tempo drums remind me of early Kiss like “Shout It Out Loud” and “Deuce”. Actually this drum groove appears on this album a few times as well as their previous albums. Refer to “Sad State Of Affairs”.

The chorus on this song is full on rocking, with gospellish female vocals and what not.

My Star Of Rio
You always light my empty skies

I have no idea what the star of Rio is, except for being a cool song title and an excellent song.

Gemini

“Amber Galactic” takes place in a future in where humanity explores and conquers space. The twist is that the commanders are actually commanders, just like the leaders on Earth are all female. The men are mainly responsible for mundane tasks. They worship the women. They also always fall in love with the women of the highest rank, although they are always out of reach for the men. “Jennie” and “Gemini” are both such stories, which in the case of “Gemini” is also presented in the form of the animated music video.”
David Andersson 

On each album they have a disco pop metal rock track. “West Ruth Ave” took the spot on the first album, “Living For The Night-time” took the spot on the second album and “Gemini” takes the spot on the third album.

“I just looked to the sky and sought for a sigh of glimpse of you”

In a time of terror and reality stars as leaders, all we can do is look to the sky and dream away of being with the person that doesn’t want to be with you. Brilliant.

“Bodies in orbit and a signal from a far
As I look to the skies I’m dying to be right where you are”

Relationships drive us forward.

“I’m fighting not to lose control”

It doesn’t take much for humans to lose control.

So many influences are present in this song, like Styx, The Police, Divinyls and Blondie.

Sad State Of Affairs

The drum groove from “Star In Rio” is back and musically the song reminds me of “California Morning” from their debut album, “Internal Affairs”. Additional influences that come to mind are the Rolling Stones “Jumpin Jack Flash”, “Unmasked” KISS era with a bit of Steely Dan thrown in. When the song hits the bridge its Steely Dan meets Billy Joel. Brilliant.

It’s a sad state of affairs now that my heart aint going anywhere

Lyrically, it’s a song about being in love and not being able to get out of being in love.

Jennie
It’s got a bass groove influenced by “Burning Heart” from Survivor and some strong influences from Supertramp and Elton John.

Who’s Jennie?

It’s one of those mysterious women the band likes to write about.

Any other day I would long for the sound
Every little noise that was you
But it was silence we used to come by
Just simply sharing the truth

Relationships are a tough gig. We love being in one and we hate it when it doesn’t go as plan.

And I saw your face on the screen just tonight
Telling us all what to do

Is Jennie one of those female leaders that the men are all in love with but can’t have?

Domino

The keys are superb and the bass playing is groovy and brilliant. The whole song has this vibe from the Sylvester Stallone directed movie “Staying Alive”. The intro also reminds me of “Lorelei” from Styx and there is a Toto “Africa” vibe happening as well under a disco pop rock feel.

I was lost in Vienna with the devil on my trail
I just arrived from Venice, got your letter in the mail

The scene is set.

Domino
For games we play I fell away
It’s time you know
You can’t play with my heart

Gene Simmons had a man size predicament about Domino. I guess it still continues.

Josephine
Here is a song about another mysterious woman. According to the guys in the band the song has this “Hill Street Blues” TV theme happening. And I don’t disagree.

Trying to get me some action
I was drunk and lost in a dream
I was asking the DJ to play
Edge of Seventeen

“Edge Of Seventeen” is a Stevie Nicks song. Love the reference to it and how trying to get some action meant playing a song that the opposite sex would like and dance to.

Josephine
Your song was written long ago

Digging the guitar solo and Richard Larsson rocks the keys on the outro.

Space Whisperer

There’s that drum groove again that appears multiple times throughout the album.

Why not?

It’s the best groove in town.

And the riffs just enhance it.

Like a shadow in your sunset
Radiating from your gaze
I could feel you in the distance

“Space Whisperer” is about being alone in space.

A satellite transmission from a world I didn’t see
Space Whisperer

The section before the guitar solo that’s like a drum solo reminds me of “Radar Love” and the guitar solo is one of those “songs within a song” guitar solos.

Something Mysterious

The intro is a cross between “Reason To Live” from Kiss and “Burning Heart” from Survivor. But when the verse rolls around, it’s full on like “Burning Heart”. It’s fantastic how they tie up so many influences into a super catchy song.

“Light up the sky like something mysterious”

Plus it’s got a cool retro 80’s film clip to go with it.

Saturn In Velvet
The normal epic closer and a verse riff that reminds me of another song and it’s killing me because I cannot come up with the title.

What ya trying to do with me
I never saw it coming
You left me dragging my own misery
Around the circle of habit

I am pretty sure Bjorn sings the above. Maybe he doesn’t sing it, but my ears want to hear the last two lines in that way.

Remember back in the day, when you would get music dubbed from a friend and then you would spend hours deciphering/writing the lyrics of the song. Well, we are back to those days with streaming. You see, with less physical product doing the rounds and access to music at all-time highs, the lyric sheet is a thing of the past. Yeah I know the bigger artists have their lyrics all over the web and eventually the lyrics to this song would also get there, but a week has passed since the album release and still no lyrics.

Just Another Night
A cover of Mick Jagger’s solo hit from “She’s The Boss” released in 1985 and to be honest it bloody rocks. In saying that, I am a fan of Jagger’s original version as well. It was a song that crossed over to the hard rock audiences.

Just another night
Just another night with you
Just another kiss
Just before the dark breaks through

Brilliant.

On a final note, David Andersson churns out basically any guitar style and for me he deserves special praise here. Bjorn Strid on vocals cements himself as the most versatile and fun-loving singer on planet Earth. The rhythm section of Sharlee D’Angelo on bass and Jonas Kallsback is tighter than a G-string tuned to A. Keyboardist Richard Larsson has become an important cog in the TNFO machine while newest member Sebastian Forslund delivers any other instrument needed plus he wrote a few songs for the record.

Overall, it’s one of the best listens I have had since their debut “Internal Affairs” caught me by total surprise and suckered punched me into fandom.

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Dues To Pay

Don Brautigam didn’t get the Metallica “Master Of Puppets” or the Motley Crue “Dr Feelgood” cover design gig because he just graduated from drawing school or he had the digital tools at home to create art. Brautigam had spent 15 years doing book covers, sci-fi art and album covers for over artists. He got recognition for his Stephen King book cover design in 1980. He was paying his dues every single day.

Twisted Sister didn’t just write a multi-platinum album out of the blue. It was a long hard road, with some great live moments and record label rejection. While they had the US Tri-State scene covered, to the rest of the world they were unknown. As far as the person in Australia was concerned, they laboured in obscurity. But they kept on doing the great work for a lot of years before most people heard them.

Dream Theater’s “Images And Words” was seven years in the making from when the band got together in 85. All of those choices made in the past led to this album. And once you add the years of individual practice and listening before Dream Theater formed, you can see that “Images and Words” didn’t just write itself.

John Sykes didn’t just come out of the blue and join Whitesnake and then go on to co-write one of the best albums from 1987. His journey involved local bands in the UK, then Tygers of Pang Tang, Thin Lizzy and finally Whitesnake. David Coverdale started off with local bands in the UK, then Deep Purple and finally Whitesnake. The accumulation of years paying their dues led to a perfect synergy/chemistry which resulted in the 1987 album.

Recently I got into the instrumental music of Andy James. A great melodic guitarist and what a shredder. When you look at his past, you can see a high work ethic, writing, recording, touring, doing transcriptions, magazine work, sessions and what not. I am sure, many nights/months passed labouring in obscurity, but he kept on doing great work, years before most people realised and recognised his work.

Hate em or love em, but Five Finger Death Punch is no accident. They are a good example that it takes years, over a decade to find the right formula that works, to keep on working on the music, the message in the lyrics and taking chances. The band members themselves have roots that go back to the early 90’s.

The past is the forerunner to the future and any success that might follow. That rocket ship to success that MTV sold everyone, no longer exists. No one will ever be as big as they’d dreamed they’d be. If an artist is lucky, they will have established a following that pays their bills.

And today, the past is even more important. We live in an era where people don’t realize how hard it is to rise above the noise and connect with people. We do it socially, but artistically it’s difficult. And our past stories and experiences are there to build connections. The right or wrong choices we made in the past, shape who we are today.

But the world moves so fast.

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Don Brautigam

The album cover is a forgotten art form, but man, it was an important one. Once upon a time, the look of an album covers would be the deciding vote if a person outlaid the money. It carried the brand of the band. It was the first thing that spoke to the music buyer. And as time has gone on, the artists who created some of the iconic covers are never mentioned.

Ask anyone who created the “Master Of Puppets” or “Dr Feelgood” cover and I bet ya, they can’t answer it. But both albums have an iconic status in the history of music. I had to refer to the actual album credits. If anyone answered Don Brautigam, then they really know their cover artists. While the album covers are brilliant, it’s worth noting that Brautigam worked as an artist for 15 years prior to the Metallica job.

  • If you’ve seen any Stephen King book covers like “The Stand”, “Cujo”, “Salem’s Lot”, “The Dead Zone”, “Different Seasons”, “Night Shift” and “Firestarter”, that’s Brautigam’s work.
  • If you’ve seen any Dean Koontz book covers like “Dragon Tears”, that’s also Brautigam’s work.
  • If you’ve seen any Anthrax album covers like “Among the Living”, “State of Euphoria” and “Persistence of Time” that’s also Brautigam’s work.
  • If you’ve seen any Metallica album covers like “Master Of Puppets” and the self-titled “Black” album, well, that’s also Brautigam’s work.
  • If you’ve seen the cover for “Dr Feelgood” from Motley Crue, that’s also Brautigam’s work.
  • If you’ve seen the cover for Testament‘s “The Ritual”, well, you guessed it, that’s Brautigam.
  • If you’ve seen the cover for Frehley’s Comet first album. Brautigam.
  • If you’ve seen the cover for AC/DC’s “The Razor Edge”, well that’s Brautigam’s work as well.
  • If you’ve seen the cover for “The Dark” from Metal Church, that’s Brautigam.
  • If you’ve seen the cover for “Rockit” from Chuck Berry, that’s also Brautigam.
  • If you’ve seen any James Brown album covers like “The Payback” or “Reality”, that’s Brautigam.

 

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Dollars And Cents

Everyone today knows “Charles Goodyear” as the inventor of vulcanised rubber. But what they don’t know is that he spent his whole life on struggle street, in and out of prison because of his money problems and six of his twelve children died because he couldn’t support them.

And when he perfected his vulcanised rubber, he couldn’t take out a patent because another scientist called Thomas Hancock took out a patent eight weeks earlier. You see, Hancock had gotten a hold of a sample of Goodyear’s final product and reverse engineered it. Goodyear tried the courts, however the judge couldn’t understand how Hancock could have reverse engineered the invention and awarded all rights and royalties to Hancock.

It wasn’t until his journals were read by others that the following was found: “Life should not be estimated exclusively by the standard of dollars and cents.”

The Goodyear name would be recognised many years later. His achievements are world-changing but he never got paid for it while he was alive.

Hancock thought he won. He cheated a little bit and got his way. 

Culture is built by people losing in the short-term only to win in the long-term. That loss right now, builds a connection, solidifies a reputation and creates trust. And those three things are more valuable than the one victory early on.

Remember a time when writers created their works, while working other jobs. And a lot of those great writers still kept those other jobs.

F. Scott Fitzgerald gave the world “The Great Gatsby” while he also worked in advertising.

William Faulkner worked as a postal worker and during that time he wrote “The Sound And The Fury”, a book that was largely forgotten upon its release and only made famous when a book Faulkner wrote many years later for a decent pay check became popular, which in turn brought interest into his earlier works. After his postal gig he worked as a night manager in a power plant. Writing between the hours of midnight and 4am, he also produced “As I Lay Dying”. Both books are in the Top 100 Literacy Classics.

Ken Kesey wrote “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”. The story about CIA sponsored mind control came about because Kesey worked as a cleaner in a mental hospital and for some extra cash he volunteered to be in a CIA sponsored mind control study which was promoted as something different to its participants. Those experiences formed the words of his novel.

JRR Tolkien worked as a Professor at Oxford while he wrote “Lord Of The Rings”. George Orwell worked for the BBC as a propagandist, which gave him the inspiration for his 1984 work.

After Dream Theater recorded their debut album, the label went bust. While they tried to get a new deal, they kept on writing songs and they had to get jobs to support themselves. During this period of work and jam, they wrote enough quality material to give the world “Images And Words”, their breakthrough album and the one that would give them a career.

Led Zeppelin’s debut album was funded by Jimmy Page and their manager Peter Grant. Once completed, it was shopped around to labels and rejected, until Atlantic US picked it up. On its release it wasn’t successful, but as we all know by now, time has a funny way of changing people’s views.

There is no easy way to cut through the noise and be heard. Paying your dues has been there from day one. Michelangelo was portrayed as being blessed to paint. The fact that he was paying his dues from the age of 7 by mixing paint, cleaning paint brushes and learning brush techniques working with a master should never be forgotten.

Convert six people instead of trying to convert 60 people. Start small and build. AC/DC were booked to open up a basement gig for Paul Kossoff’s Back Street Crawler in the U.S. Kossoff unfortunately died on his way to the gig, but AC/DC still took the stage and put on their normal act to six people. After a few songs, the six people bolted to the nearest payphone to call their friends. Within an hour the club was at capacity and history was made.

Tell your story and be truthful. Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” and “The Unforgiven” are two of their most popular songs and it’s James opening up about a relationship breakdown and his upbringing with religious parents. There is a reason why “Kick Start My Heart” is iconic. It references Nikki’s almost fatal overdose. The story you want to tell can be political like “Peace Sells” and “And Justice For All” or inspirational like “We’re Not Gonna Take It” or a call to arms like “SMF” and “We Will Rock You”.

Keep creating and recording. Al Kooper, produced the self-titled debut from Lynyrd Skynyrd. It just came out and it wasn’t really setting any sales charts on fire. “Free Bird” was still months away from becoming the boss of FM radio. Ronnie Van Zant called Kooper and told him the band had written a new song and they wanted to come in and record it ASAP. The song was “Sweet Home Alabama” and it sat in the vaults for a year before it was released on album number 2.

In the pre-internet era of scarcity, less music got made and even less got properly promoted. The history of music is littered with good bands or good musicians that didn’t quite make it or never even got a chance to make a record. And these days, every town has thousands of bands who are recording themselves and releasing their music themselves. And it’s all dollars and cents until you have that iconic hit that breaks on through.

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