John Sebastian sang that there were “1,352 Guitar Pickers In Nashville, and everyone can play twice as better than I will. ” At least that’s how I remember it from the days long ago.
Which is to say that he probably thought he was a pretty good guitar player, until he was exposed to the dozens of top-notch session players in one of the guitar player meccas of the world.
There are far more artists recording than ever before, in spite of the fact that it is very difficult to actually support yourself and a family by playing music. Was it Tony Rice who said “You can make tens of dollars playing bluegrass music?”
With home studios producing high quality digital recordings, complete with effects and layered tracks it is not surprising that musicians the world over are putting out so much good music. It no longer matters much where you are; with a laptop, some software and an internet connection you can produce your own music.
This does not mean that you no longer have to be a good musician; on the contrary, when you listen to popular music from the early 60’s, for example, you can be surprised at how basic much of it was. On the other hand (again), simple is often the best. Simple tunes become earworms and last for generations.
How long does it take to really listen to a song to “get it”? That all depends. Once in a while you hear a song once and you just know it is an awesome, monumental tune. Other times you need to listen repeatedly to finally appreciate the song. Just think of the songs you passed up in the past as just so-so, only to discover later on that this was amazing music.
Personally, Jackson Browne falls into that category for me. Somehow I missed his music in the 70’s and only came to appreciate it 20 years later. Well, mostly I missed it because the was a decade when I lived without much music, other than church music. Thankfully that era ended for me and I found my way out from under the rock of ignorance.
Recently I read an interview with the daughter of Tony Rice, the pre-eminent flatpicking bluegrass/newgrass guitarist. He is world-renowned to be one of the best pickers ever. The interviewer had asked her about Tony’s practice habits.
His daughter grew up hearing him play nearly everyday of her life and commented that he started to practice guitar daily at 4:30 a.m. However, I also read that he never practices, he just plays. Most likely, he practiced like a fiend until he could just play. Seems that is the only way, other than enrolling in an official music school.
Creating an entire album, especially one with a concept, which kind of means a purpose to me, takes a tremendous amount of material and work. To the layman it all looks so fun and easy, which it can be. Yet, in reality, there are endless nights of gigs, travel, late nights, sessions, frustration, listening and practicing to arrive at the point of a full-blown recording.
So, hats off and kudos to the albums reviewed here. It is just a smattering of the millions of recordings, but it is a labor of love that keeps things moving.