As you guys know, I love to write about my thoughts on music and film. But rarely do I insist that anyone listen or watch a particular video. I think “Before The Music Dies (2007),” is an exception. This is an outstanding documentary, put together by Andrew Shapter and Joel Rasmussen, who are on a quest to find answers concerning the dramatic change of the music industry, and where it’s heading. Of course, radio also had a lot to do with the demise of quality music. This documentary is phenomenal! It was far beyond what I expected. I highly recommend that very young music lover watch this documentary especially. Many of the things in this documentary I’ve already mentioned in various places on my blog. And to some it up, it really talks about the loss of our music culture; and a lot of it was the result of the greed and corruption of the music industry bottom line.
Many people were interviewed including Erykah Badu. Although I don’t listen to her music much, I admire her so much. You can tell she is so down to earth. What she shared was, “back in the day, you didn’t have to alter your body, like get butt implants to have a record deal!” Real artists didn’t have to sacrifice their creativity in order to sign a record deal. Badu stresses the importance of artists being able to be themselves, and not feel they have to compromise who they are, because of unrealistic visions of a record label.
Bonnie Rait talked about the repetition of music on radio. There was no real diversity. Everything was about ratings and numbers. This caused a host of problems not even discussed in this documentary. The music industry feels that this is the formula in which they need to operate to make money. But in reality, if you feed our young people mental garbage, then that’s what they will eventually gravitate towards. Not everybody has a parent that is musically cultural, who can expose them to different types of music. The art of music slowly became the business of music. This film gives you a greater appreciation as to why so many artists like Janet Jackson started their own music label, and why artists like Jay-Z starting his own streaming service (although I think his service is not any better than crook labels that are crying broke right now, but I digress).
The film also talked about music streaming, and how it changed music forever. I think that streaming services actually saved the music industry single-handedly; because people were not going to continue paying the high cost of albums (especially in this economy). Music streaming has also exposed music fans to lesser known artists who are just as talented. In addition, music streaming has made it possible for people who can’t afford collector albums, and or access to music that is out of print, and listen to them for pennies or nothing at all.
One artist felt that music should be free. I’ve heard and read a lot of artists who feel this way. However, many people are divided on that issue. In my opinion, I guess it can be free like Spotify, if more companies with money are willing to sponsor other music services like it. But there aren’t many. But even if it could happen, we have the issue of the P2P mindset. Even though using Spotify and other services like it are so much easier, safer, and convenient; there are people who will never stop using torrents. On the other hand, because Spotify offers free music, many people think Spotify is illegal. The average non-technical person is so misinformed. But I guess, why should we be informed? The point of music is to enjoy it, not to worry about the legalities of listening to it. At the same time, it would be nice for us to talk about it more! Because the bottom line is, it’s not just about rebelling against the greed of the music industry, it’s about supporting our artists. Especially artists of color. Please watch it on Hulu.
“Two Tons O’ Fun,” also known as “The Weather Girls,” first album (pictured above) was in 1980 I believe. A two woman group consisted of Martha Wash and Izora Armstead. Their music was mostly disco, club, and high energy dance music. I remember my mom playing this album all the time. I know I’ve written about this album before I think, but I wanted to post it again because it’s one of my favorite albums from them, and if you’re a true old school person like I am, I’m sure you’ll appreciate this album. On the original album there’s only 8 tracks. Rhapsody has three additional tracks for this album (not sure why, maybe they are bonus tracks). My favorite songs are “Do You Wanna Boogie, Hunh?” “Just Us,” “Got The Feeling.” Martha Wash is still performing, however, Izora Armstead was sick and past away in 2004. Listen on Spotify.
I absolutely loved this song back in the day. But unfortunately, this was the only song I ever liked from Jean Knight. Mr. Big Stuff shot up to number 1 for about 5 weeks, according to Billboards “Soul Singles” in 1971.” This was one of many songs that always played in family gatherings. In a way, the song almost became somewhat of an anthem, always played when a guy got on a woman’s nerve. She had a couple more hits since then, however, none achieved the same success as “Mr. Big Stuff.” Personally, I just didn’t care for her music much. Her music wasn’t bad; she obviously had a great voice; I think maybe it had something to do with how the overall sound was produced on her album. I’ve heard a couple of her songs that kind of sounded like she was singing inside a karaoke bar, or saloon. Hear her hit on Spotify.
Although, the subtitle of this album states “Greatest Hits,” this isn’t her best greatest hits album. I suggest visitors doing a search for Dionne Warwick’s music, she has actually produced quite a number of hits, and I don’t think they’re all on one album yet (at least I don’t recall/noticed one that exists yet). I selected this particular album because there is a song on here that I don’t think has gotten enough “old school credit.” The song is called “Heartbreaker (1982),” and if I remember correctly, it was written by the Bee Gees; however, only Barry’s voice was used for background vocals. According to Billboard, the songs was on the charts for 22 weeks, and peaked at #10 on January 15, 1983. This was a huge hit, it boggles my mind how even a lot of the major radio stations don’t even play this song anymore. Another phenomenal hit that was lost in old school history was “I’ll Never Love This Way Again (1979);” the song peaked at #5 and stayed on the charts for a total of 24 weeks. There wasn’t a radio station that wasn’t playing “I’ll Never Love This Way Again.” I also enjoyed “Deja Vu,” which is a very laid back romantic song. Again, search for her music, there doesn’t appear to be one album with all her greatest hits, they are all scattered unfortunately. But you can listen to THIS album here on Spotify.
I know there exist a lot of people who love to feed the propaganda monster; and will probably dislike me for this article. But, what the hell, It’s my blog. Do you really think there’s a White conspiracy in the music industry, to “steal Black music” away from Black culture? I’ve heard this talk over and over for quite some time now. As someone who has always had music in my blood since I was extremely young, I have a very different opinion on this matter. You know when I was little, there were many performers I listened to, that I never knew they were actually White. One of those people I distinctly remembered was Tom Jones; and apparently I wasn’t the only person who thought so; many people thought he was back then. I also thought that Michael McDonald was also Black for awhile until I actually saw him on TV. The reverse has also happened. I thought Chuck Berry was White until I saw him on TV. So, what exactly is the point of my two previous statements? The point is music influences all cultures regardless of where you come from. Second, despite what people think, (or want to believe), I don’t think we can put a color on music. The color of a person’s skin doesn’t denote their culture, neither should music.
Now I know a lot of you may think I am plum off my rocker! Yes it is true that Black music has literally influenced the world, I don’t think any music historian, or any average music lover would try and challenge this. However, understand that it is because Black music has been such an influence, it is only natural that other groups of people will try to mimic it because it’s so great! This is another reason why I suggested a few posts ago, to listen to intentional radio. If you listen to current music from India, Japan, Africa, and yes even Arabian countries, almost all of them sound American. Many Asian countries are very heavily in to hip hop. If it were not for the different language, you’d think that all of their music was produced by Pharrell, or Dr. Dre. No one is bitching that Japan is trying to “take Black music away.” I’ve heard some Arab artists that can drop lyrics better than some American artists! No one is trying to proclaim or take away anything, it’s just the nature of good music, everybody wants to do the same. The reality is, other cultures fought a long time to try and keep their traditional music, but it is fading away, just like American classic music. I think trying to take ownership of a style of music that was once ours, is like the military yelling and screaming on television that the internet was started by them, and they want to be acknowledged. The internet is so huge, and has been etched in to the fabric of our lives, does it really matter?
I think what’s important is to try and focus on keeping the memories of our dying music, rather than spending a pointless life time of pointing fingers, of an issue that really makes no sense.
From my personal collection
I thought about something early today, and I think it’s worth blogging about. That is international internet radio stations. I am an avid radio listener, and I use many different applications and sources to get my oldies fix. The one thing I couldn’t help but to notice, is how many radio stations abroad that play classic American music! When I say radio stations abroad, I’m not talking about “Pandora like radio,” I’m talking about “live radio” who are playing our classics. Countries such as Spain, Russia, Dominican Republic, and even London, who has radio stations that are either fully dedicated to American classics, or play a good portion of it. America has effected so many cultures and don’t even realize it. I’ve also noticed that foreign radio stations that play “Top 100” don’t play a lot of American music; especially when it comes to pop or today’s R&B. This says a lot for American classic music; it says that our classics have more meaning, had more structure, and longevity. That’s the difference, most of today’s music is like fast foods, they are only hits today, and is usually never replayed in the same way as let’s say a Gladys Knight, or a Michael Jackson album. So don’t over look web radio stations from other countries, there are literally over 500,000+ (and more unaccounted for (Shoutcast alone has almost 60 thousand)) live web radio stations with all kinds of historic goodness! This is why we use Shazam. We can listen to all of this music free, legally. And, the artists get’s paid, just by us sitting back and listening to our favorite web stations. Please always remember that if your favorite on demand streaming service (such as Spotify or Rhapsody) does not have your favorite song in their library, email or take time to fill out their form to request it, it’s the only way to keep our history alive (especially Black music history). Happy listening and discovery!
Not only is Gloria Estefan beautiful, I think she is one of the most talented Cuban performers of our time. I can’t even list all of my favorites from Gloria, there is just way too many. She’s had so many hits, that I don’t think there is one particular song she is known for. I think the greatest thing she has done for her career, is to cross over into English music. The fact that she was able to seamlessly cross over, and still pump out hits says a lot about her musical talents. In my opinion, she defies the mentality that an artists has to be either all dance, or all ballads. Gloria is one of the very few artists, who can sing whatever she wants, and people love her no matter what she comes out with! After a serious accident that could have left her paralyzed, she bounced right back in to performing, making her one of the baddest, and fiercest divas the world has ever known in my opinion! There are many hits that came out of this album, such as, “Can’t Stay Away From You,” “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” and “Anything For you.” All three songs from this album are just a few of my many favorites. If you love Gloria as much as I do, check out Spotify’s 3 album collection of Gloria and the Miami Sound Machine’s Hottest albums. I consider them a lost treasure, cause now-a-days people are not listening to her music anymore. It’s a shame because their music is not only beautiful, but timeless.