McCartney at Barclay's Center

On Saturday night I went to see Paul McCartney at Barclay's Center. Around 3 hours, 30-something songs. About 70% Beatles material, 20% Wings, and 10% solo stuff. With the exception of a couple songs, I felt an internal sense of giddiness (aka holy-shit-I-love-this-song) for virtually every tune as the first note was played. I wasn't bored for one second. Sometimes I'll see bands that play for an hour and I can't wait to get the fuck outta there. The thing is, I'm not even a huge McCartney fan. I love the Beatles, but I wouldn't even put them in my top 5 bands. But I definitely felt the sense that this man is a legend and really - how many more tours does he have left? He's 70! Tix were expensive, and I debated buying them - but once I had them I couldn't wait to go.

As I was watching the show, I was reminded (once again!) that IT'S ALL ABOUT THE SONGS. Paul McCartney and the rest of The Beatles weren't the coolest guys ever. None of them had extraordinary voices, although Lennon and McCartney are good singers. None of them were masters of their instruments, although all very capable players. But they were genius songwriters. They each took the innate skills that they had and worked their asses off at getting better. People think they were an overnight success but these guys had been working on their craft for years and playing small shitty clubs for a long time before they hit it big - and essentially started rock and roll. Yeah I know...Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis, Robert Johnson and all the blues guys yada yada bullshit. They were all amazing musicians and legends in their own right but nothing exploded pop rock 'n roll the way The Beatles did.

My point for writing this is that I feel like marketing/promotion and the desire for instant fame are starting to trump songs and songwriting. Bands' priorities are backwards. Sure The Beatles had a ridiculous marketing team that exploded them in the States, but they had the musicianship and songs to back it up. I feel like, nowadays, you have an artist with 1 good song and 1 GREAT publicist who gets them onto pitchfork.com (oh, and someone in the band who is "witty" on twitter). This is why you have bands that are popular for a month and then you never hear from them. There are exceptions, of course, and a ton of excellent bands out there who put the focus on the right things. But seeing McCartney made me realize that the 10,000 hours of work, the craft, the fine-tuning of songs on top of the natural-born talent, is what it's all about in terms of a career. And honestly, there are very few legends and you can't even try to compete with that level of songwriting. But you can always experiment and improve on what you have. That's the exciting part.

Twitter/FB and other promotions are great and necessary for getting your music and brand out there but it won't help you polish a turd of a song. This doesn't just go for music; spend your time doing the work and becoming great at whatever it is you do. Shit, I'm even learning how to write these blogs through practice! In the end, your brand and work should sell itself. With a little help from a photo of a cat shooting lasers out its ass. You know, to get some "likes."  -dan



 

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