Today the Industry would put Bob Dylan, Sandy Denny, Rab Noakes, Paul Simon – all the great legends and outstanding talents of the 60s and have them in ‘backrooms’ studios to write for singers such as – Frankie this, or Johnny that, or Elvis shake your hips – so they can sing ( as Dick Gaughan put it) about what it is like at summer camp – I despair!
Fortunately in the 60s there was more creative freedom, and artists were able to stand up for what they believed in. There were several reasons for this –
There was a lot more money in the music industry; bands played at club nights and social venues; solo artists played residencies at bars and clubs.
I know there still are wonderful venues in places like London (the Troubadour, Bedford, RegalRoom, ) and Glasgow (Oran Mor, King Tuts, Nice n Sleazys ) and there are still many promoters who care about independent music.
My son’s band played recently at a ‘Grease the movie’ party and had so much fun covering those classic songs of the 70s. They also played some Motown and such great bass lines for him to play. They played an 8 song set and everyone was dancing and having a great time. After the DJ set came back on and it was so dull by comparison to the ‘live’ band. They could easily have played for longer. I told my son that’s what it was like at the clubs back when. There would be a DJ in one room and a live band in another room. The live band was so much better ( well usually) than the DJ.
It’s all about a fast profit today though and DJs are so much cheaper - and all the cheap club nights now.
The sad thing is now bands feel its’ a performance with the audience standing to listen. When I saw Aloe Blacc here last year – he attempted to make a path in the audience for those who wished to dance. Folk singers used to simply play in bars while ‘audiences or rather customers simply sat and chatted. It was all less rigid and formal – it’s all so formal now. I’m talking here about learning the craft of live music. Once a band or artist is established and people pay to hear them, that’s a different ball game. It seems that developing artists now spend much less of their time playing live.
It is just as well there were guys like John Hammond who was willing to take a risk with Dylan - after all he didn't look or sound quite right but he had charisma.Now the music industry simply can't afford to take any risks, its too expensive. That's why it is important that we support independent music.
I listen to young artists today and many lack any substance behind their songs.
John Hammond was an American record producer, Civil Rights activist, non-musician and music critic from the 1930s to the early 1980s. In his service as a Talent scout, Hammond became one of the most influential figures in 20th century popular music. Hammond was instrumental in sparking or furthering numerous musical careers, including those of Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Count Bassie, Pete Seeger, Aretha Franklin, George Benson, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen,
He was largely responsible for the revival of delta blues artist Robert Johnson's music (who was a big influence on Dylan) . He also strived for racial integration, not only in the musical frontier but in the United States in general.
Where are the free thinkers today.......?