I never looked to music for the artists. I would wake up and say, I gotta play this song or that song.
I listened and became a fan of hard rock music because the lyrics resonated and gave me something to believe in. The message was in the songs and as a kid growing up, music which was aggressive and laced with attitude, was screaming for attention.
As a by-product of all of these different reasons, I would then follow the artist who wrote those songs and I would consume their other releases.
But eventually I would fall out with the artist because they ceased to connect with me. And sometimes I would fall back in.
And it didn’t matter who was the best player. It never was about that. All the biggest acts didn’t have the most technical players and singers. But they could write.
And if they couldn’t write anymore or they ran out of ideas, then outside writers would come in to assist them. Like Aerosmith, Kiss, Ozzy and Bon Jovi just to name a few. At least no one was assisting Tom Keifer. But the again Keifer disappeared for a decade and a bit, while the other acts continued.
I was listening to “Blizzard Of Ozz” and it never was a hit record. Hit records were irrelevant back then, and only became relevant when MTV became dominant and people tried to rewrite history. The artist sustained their careers because we believed in their message. And who wrote the message is still disputed when it comes to Ozzy. Bob Daisley says he wrote em.
Some artists break the mold and lead us into new sounds and territories while others capitalize on the mold.
Love em or hate em, but you can’t deny Motley Crue and how “Dr Feelgood” took the sonics of heavy rock and made it heavier and punchier, something that got James and Lars very interested. And it took a pop rock producer called Bob Rock to deliver this. He’s a star. He paved the way for other heavier bands to dominate the charts.
Want to talk about stars?
How about Dee Snider?
He said what he thought, and he poured his passion into efforts like free speech. And he got ostracized for it by people tied to the hip to the record label. Like Lars Ulrich and his Napster crusade a 14 plus years later
People like Dee Snider appear in our lives to tests the limits, and not shy away from them. And he got stiffed by the labels during the heyday of hard rock on MTV between 1988 and 1991 because of it.
Artists from back in the day did not kiss ass. Ask Roger Waters. He was his own singularity. He would deliver the album when he decided it was ready. Not when the record label rep said it was ready. Or his Pink Floyd band mates. Or when John Kalodner said it was ready. Although I must admit I am a fan of albums that John Kalodner was involved in.
Axl Rose is a star. He did shit in his own way. He wrote with whoever he wanted and rejected all the norms of the record and tour cycle. But every star is subject to hate and criticism.
The key is not to give in to the pressure.
Kind of like Michael Jordan.
He had the skill, but so did many other players of his era like Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley and Karl Malone. His performance under pressure, and executing the correct skill under pressure and when the trophy was on the line, well that’s special. A separate skill that is developed with experience. It takes time. It takes some pain and some hurt.
But when he retired, people didn’t stop following the Bulls and those NBA championships he won sustained like good songs. Enough to get a new lease of life via “The Last Dance” documentary on Netflix.
And even though the artists haven’t had the same public acceptance as their earlier songs, those songs that sustain.
So music and lyrics got me interested, eventually I became a fan of the artist and moved in and out of between just liking the song or just liking the artist or both.