Monday, August 2, 2010

Day 116: The single life

Not so long ago, I posted on this site a list of bands/groups that I thought to have been the most “significant” in popular music, over the last fifty years. Taking in the five decades between 1960 and today, which groups, in my humblest of opinions (I’m not sure that I’ve had an “humble” opinion in my life?) made that Top 10 list? You’ll have to trawl through the archives to see who they were.

That list has since been the source of argument and conjecture, threats on my life and all manner of insults and oaths aimed at me. Before I offer you my next list, I’d just like to re-iterate the criteria which leads to my definition of “significant”.

It’s a combination of: (1) the influence the band or group had on the music scene at the time and thereafter (2) the quantity and quality of their musical output (3) the level of fame/infamy/notoriety that the band or group attracted to themselves - globally, maybe even beyond music? It was never about “bands that were purely seminal”; that list I leave to the fashionable music critics who seem to change their opinion everytime a ‘next big thing’ rolls into town: I give you the example of the critics’ polls of some years ago when they all had The Stone Roses above The Beatles or the current feteing of The Rolling Stones album ‘Exile On Main Street’??!! Puhhlease?! I cannot believe how many people are wetting themselves over this re-release, trumpeting it as “the best album of all time”. It WASN”T even the Stones’ best album of all time?!

Hence, many worthy contenders never made it onto the list; that list is for others to make, it’s not the Hungry list.

Now, at the risk of sticking my head up, prematurely, above the battlements to see if all is peaceful in the land, here’s the list of the most “SIGNIFICANT” solo artists (in my opinionated opinion) of the last fifty years (in no particular order):

Michael Jackson
Bob Dylan
David Bowie
Elvis Presley
Jimi Hendrix
Bruce Sprinsgteen
Bob Marley
Simon & Garfunkel

Okay, okay, okay, okay....before the hollerin’ starts: (1) I couldn’t bring myself to classify Simon & Garfunkel as a “group’ or “band”, that’s why they’re here (2) yes, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Marley both had über-talented bands that played along with them (the E Street Band & The Wailers, respectively) but the two artists in question were, arguably, more lauded as “solo” acts (3) the omission of any women other than Madonna is purely because neither Janis Joplin, Diana Ross or ONJ makes the cut for THIS list.

Who’s sitting just outside the ten? Johhny Cash, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Elton John (I almost feel guilty not including Captain Fantastic), Eric Clapton. It’s a tough call, believe me....the Prince thing worries me a little and maybe there’s some sort of weird argument for Rod Stewart, Cliff Richard and Barbara Streisand, but they’re not fights I’m prepared to put the gloves on for. Leonard Cohen, James to but who am I getting rid of? And that, right there, is the litmus test; for any suggestion you may have, just let me know who you’re bootin‘ out......The King?!

I’ve come under Springsteen-fire before, but hell, do you want to be the one calling “the Boss” to tell him he’s off the list? ‘Born In The USA’ yielded seven singles alone and it was a long, long way away from his best albums....I give you: Born To Run, The River, Darkness On The Edge Of Town, Nebraska, Greetings From Asbury Park.

My personal list would boast Nick Drake, Billy Bragg and Marvin, but this is not a personal thing, it’s business, music business. Take a shot at me over this list if you must....if you dare??

Day #116 Tip: Sometimes you have to stand for something
There are the occasions when I feel that everyone else in the world is wrong and I’m right. On many of those occasions, if not most, it is often me that’s got it wrong...maybe. Many, many people will have many and varied opinions of my work, my scripts, my screenplays, my ideas and it can become all-consuming just trying to work out one from the other.

But sometimes, we have to believe in what we believe in, as artists and in life.

I give you Igor Stravinsky. For a long time now I’ve wanted to write a film about the premier/opening night of Stravinsky’s ballet ‘The Rite of Spring' (Le Sacre du Printemps), staged by Diaghilev’s famous and incomparable Ballets Russes and choreographed by Vasalav Nijinsky at the Théatre des Champs-Elysses in Paris on May 29, 1913.

There was a RIOT at this debut. Composer Saint-Saens, stormed out, allegedly over “the misuse of the bassoon”. Debussy and Ravel were arguing with other audience members, punches were thrown, the Gendaremerie were called at the interval but it was chaos right through to the end. My kinda guys.

I’m not counselling for confrontation, intransigence or bloody-mindedness, but it’s important for me to know what I believe in, at work and in life. I don’t mind rejection of the true me, beacuse then I know that others can’t see what perhaps I can? I’m not trying to be provocatively arrogant, just being true to myself, just like Igor. for if I'm not true to me, who am I going to be true to?

If I could have lived at one other time in history, I think it might have been the belle époque (literal translation: fine period) in Paris, prior to the outbreak of WWI, I wonder what they would have made of my list?

No comments:

Post a Comment