Welcome back all. I hope you enjoyed the last post. It was off topic but fun to write and then to listen to. This post is kind of a slide back to writing, although it will be heavily linked to music, which is my other passion.
The basis for this post is a Bruce Springsteen quote. Back when he released the masterpiece otherwise known as “Born to Run”, he was quoted saying that he wanted the album to “sound like Roy Orbison singing Bob Dylan, produced by Spector” (More in this wiki – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Born_to_Run#History).
I was housebound in the last couple of days and while in bed I spent a lot of time watching a few “Classic Album” episodes (Basically an hour on how was a classic album made). They are fun and interesting to any music fan and if you happen to be a fan of the specific artist it’s just a great watch.
While watching these, I kept thinking about that Springsteen quote. I don’t know why, but it kept coming back to me while I was watching and then when my head cleared a bit I found a little “hidden message” in all of that.
I’ll try to lay it down step by step for you.
Let’s start with one side of this rainbow – Black Sabbath’s Paranoid:
This album was pretty much produced “On the fly”. You could say that these guys were pantsers. They had a few ideas but not even one song ready to be recorded. They weren’t even called Black Sabbath at the time… They went into a studio and started jamming. Tracks of great magnitude were recorded (each one about 45 minutes long) while Ozzy sang whatever came to mind. Lyrics were written in the van on the way to gigs and whenever the muse struck and the recording was live. When they needed “effects” they used whatever was available (Including a tin can for the opening of Iron Man). What I took from this album is its honest and pure drive. It is full of messages and was done from the burning fire that is the creative power of the band members.
Moving on to Nirvana’s Nevermind:
Not exactly the most “planned” (or “outlined” if you’d like) albums. Three “dudes” who were given a shot to produce an album via a big record company. Not too many expectations from anyone involved, and from the band’s perspective it was about making something they really liked, with no real intention of becoming the monster they ended up being. They brought into this adventure their choice of a producer and he (The mentor) added the outline to Kurt Cobain fantastic concepts. Things that the band didn’t even consider doing prior to that point (Drummer singing second voice? Doubling and re-doubling vocals?) came up in the process and the result – a classic album that wasn’t only successful but also kicked ass (excuse my French).
Alright, one more step. Queen’s A night at the opera:
Four reasonably successful guys, riding a hit (Killer queen) but hampered by poor management (or rather a thief) find themselves broke and about to make one final gamble on a musical career. They meet a new manager and he tells them – I’ll take care of the money, you go and produce the best record you can. So they do. And there are two things I found interesting about this album. The first being their methodical and perfectionist process. The second was the layering of sounds and vocals which resulted in yet another classic album. Bohemian Rhapsody anyone?
And last but definitely not least – Metallica’s Metallica (A.K.A. The Black Album):
A band, well-known to Metal fans but almost unheard of by the masses. They meet the guy who was supposed to mix their album and decided that they actually want him to produce it. The process was painful and long. The band was exposed (much like the Nirvana story) to things they just didn’t realize existed or had any place on a Metallica album. They adapted and they evolved and in the end of the day they were single-handedly responsible for the heavy metal blossom in the early 90s. If Elvis brought the people Rock n Roll, Metallica did the same for metal.
So… what does all of this have to do with the Springsteen quote? and how does that relate to writing. My writing?
It’s about aspirations. We all start writing with some kind of vision (It might be a silly one, that’s just fine). And when we think about the “product” we’re working on we want it to be good. Great preferably. But all of us also have tastes. Have you ever wanted to write “just like so and so”? Well, that shouldn’t be your aspiration. Your aspiration should be to develop your own writing voice and that it would resonate with as many people as possible.
I can try to define what I want to sound like. I want my book to be as professionally crafted as Metallica’s black Album. I want it to be invigorating like Nirvana’s Nevermind. I want it to be as layered and interesting like Queen’s A night at the opera and I want it to be organic and honest and loud as Black Sabbath’s Paranoid.
I hope that this analogy works for you, because to my own twisted mind it makes perfect sense 🙂
What are your aspirations?
What are you doing in order to take steps towards achieving them?
So long for now. Have a great weekend and we’ll likely meet again in a few.