Guardian subs

It’s hard not to blanche when you consider the sheer number of records that have been sold featuring his work.

Why would you turn into a female Belgian popster when so considering? Or did you mean blanch?

The music business is difficult

This is significantly good. Sure, it’s not Sam Cooke but then other than Sam Cooke nothing is.

So, have a look around for more Tedeschi Trucks and………it’s all very good but none of it’s any good. By which I mean it’s all entirely well done, excellently even, but none of it actually lifts. Could well just be me of course.

But I have a feeling that song selection matters more than many want to think.

It might actually be this though:

OK, and this:

Nothing wrong with that second. Bunch of very fine session musicians. And yet:

There’s something extra in the Duffy version. The phrasing just connects better.

As Our Very Own Dennis From Ohio, He Of Many Names, has been known to remark there really is a reason why Ry Cooder, excellent guitarist and singer that he is, has mostly been a sideman……there’s some drop extra needed to be really good at this music stuff.

That new music curriculum

No, really, this isn’t how to do it:

Every pupil in the country should study Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Beethoven……Mozart’s Rondo alla Turca, Handel’s Hallelujah from Messiah and Mussorgsky’s Night on the Bare Mountain……..Rock n Roll, pop and blues by listening to Hound Dog by Elvis Presley, With a Little Help from My Friends by The Beatles and Runaway Blues by Ma Rainey…….Genres such as Disco, Art Pop and 90s Indie should also be covered by listening to Chic’s Le Freak, Kate Bush’s Wild Man and Wonderwall’s Oasis.

It is, of course, Oasis’ “Wonderwall” but that’s just idiot journalists.

No, seriously, all of that is available, actually pumped at you, just by watching the TV ads.

They’re all used in TV ads because they are the iconic pieces of music of the past. Music is also one of the most basic of human activities. We have nose flutes from 50,000 years ago for example. We know of no human society that doesn’t at least use the voice to make it.

What we need is the education to connect those first stumblings of playing Pattycake and its rhymes with these glories of civilisation (OK, maybe not that with Oasis). The proof that this is what you can do – not what you can listen to, or appreciate, but do – the teaching that yes, really, these are just layerings up on top of adorable three year old moppets stumbling through Once in Royal David’s among the papier mache sheep…..

The lesson to teach is that music is something that is done, that you do, not merely something consumed.

Or, as any sensible country would do simply put my sister in charge of it.

Missed a trick here

Iused to have nothing against Mumford and Sons. Or at least no more than I have against all music involving accordions. But I find myself developing an intense dislike for three out of the four members of the popular music group.

Come along now, we all know it’s “popular beat combo”.


Chick Corea, Grammy-winning jazz musician, dies at 79
The composer, keyboardist and bandleader, who won 23 Grammy awards, has died of a rare form of cancer

Umm, clearly the Alzheimer’s is kicking in. I had him as the flugelhorn playing equivalent of Kenny G.

Who is it I’m thinking of?

Well, yes, logically so

Paedophile pop star Gary Glitter has reportedly had a coronavirus jab before his victims

The old are getting their jabs before the young and rather the reason he’s in prison is that they were markedly younger than he was……


Talking to her, she seems an old soul beyond her years, and had an unconventional penchant for the oldies even in childhood. “I had a friend in primary school who had a James Brown talking robot,” she recalls, laughing. “You would press a button and he would say catchphrases like: ‘I’m feeling good!’ And we pressed it so much it ran out of battery in about a week.”

I feel good” surely?


Spector is known as the innovator of the “wall of sound” recording technique and countless moments of pop sublimity. They are inextricable from his everyday barbarism, waving guns around and holding them to musicians’ heads to enforce his will.

Erm, no. Just as we can say that Che rocked that beret and yet slaughtered hundreds (just directly, himself, in executions) it is not just possible but essential that we differentiate. The music stands over here, the man over there. Just as the Rev Dodgson was more than a tad odd and yet Alice is a Great Book.

This isn’t racism

There is a story that Sylvain Sylvain liked to tell about his arrival in New York City. He was Sylvain Mizrahi then, a seven-year-old Syrian Jew whose family had fled Egypt for the US during the Suez crisis. “I was probably one of the last immigrants to sail into New York harbour to be greeted by the Statue of Liberty,” he recalled. “I would be standing there in my fucking brown shoes and people would say, ‘You speak English?’ I’d say no. They’d say, ‘Fuck you.’ The first words I learned when I got off the boat were ‘fuck you.’”

On one level, it’s a grim story about racism.

Well, the Egyptian bit is of course, but not the New York bit. That’s just New York being New York.

How unlike The Guardian to entirely misunderstand the world, eh?

Mick Fleetwood sells

Given that others in the band were already doing so, makes sense:

Mick Fleetwood has sold his rights to hit songs including Go Your Own Way and Dreams to music publisher BMG, becoming the third member of Fleetwood Mac to strike a lucrative music deal in recent months.

Fleetwood, who co-founded the band in the 1960s, has sold the publishing and recording rights to the royalties from more than 300 tracks from hit albums including Fleetwood Mac, Rumours and Tango in The Night for an undisclosed sum.

Depending on which rights they are they last up to 70 years after his death. Why not take a lump sum now rather than an annuity for the great grandchildren?

One thing that Stevie Nicks said though. The reason Fleetwood kept going bankrupt was because he tried to keep up with the spending of the other members of the band. But as he didn’t – or rarely – write songs he earned significantly less. So, largely, these are mechanical rights, not song rights, being bought.

If only John Harris understood

He should in fact understand the music business as that was his starting point, music journo.

Thousands of musicians who have signed contracts with corporate record companies and ended up in debt to their overlords (or “unrecouped”) receive no money at all.

This works the same way a company does. The record company here is the bank making a loan, the band are the shareholders. OK, so, the shareholders get dividends after the bank has been paid back the loan, right?

But the thing that annoys is this:

If you have the money and some remaining Christmas spirit, you should log out of Spotify, go to either an online outlet or a bricks-and-mortar record shop, buy a few physical products, and contribute a little to the livelihood of a musician or two. Given the magic they conjure up, it’s a very small price to pay.

A band that is unrecouped don;t get anything from the physical purchases either. It goes to repaying the loan.

We might also whinge at this:

The facts may now be well known, but that does not make them any less shocking: Spotify is estimated to pay about £0.0028 (or 0.28p) per stream to “rights holders”, a term that encompasses both massive record companies and artists who put out their own music; and on YouTube, the per-stream rate is put at a mere £0.0012.

So, what’s radio then? A guide is that Radio 1 will pay £100 for a song being played on the radio. To what, 1 million, 2 million people? Sure, it’s a different sum of money but it’s not that different on a per person basis, is it?

Today’s weird musical theory

He has learned how to play most of the major musical instruments, typically well.

His vocal range once spanned over four octaves, he is sometimes considered the greatest bass player in the history of rock and roll,

Obviously, Macca.

About people who play multiple instruments. Lots of guitar/mandolin/banjo etc peeps. Drummers and pianists. People who cover that whole gamut as well – Macca.

But – string instruments (guitars etc not what is meant, violin/cello, upright bass etc), woodwind and brass. Very few indeed who cover across those three. And also, very few who cover those “major” ones and also one or more of these.

OK, Van the Man and saxophone, Bowie tried for a bit but not very well. Chris Rea is actually a good brass player – got the range and tone. But Rea is the exception.

So, why? One argument is that the minor instruments are just that, minor. So, why bother to learn one as a secondary or tertiary instrument?

Another – and this is rather groping for an argument – is the technical barrier to being good at any of them. You can make a fun noise out of certain instruments with very little technique. Punk bands showed that. But it is actually true. I’ve not played a guitar – never was any good – in 30 years but I could be giving you a perfectly servicable (shite, but servicable) blues bass line within a day of picking one up. Could gig within a month, maybe a week even. Sure, take me forever to be John McVie and the universe doesn’t have enough time left for me to practice up to James Jameson – but that last is true of everyone of course.

Fretless string instruments and brass – I assume reed wind as well but don’t know – take weeks of fiddling to get a sound out of them, or to be in tune. It takes months and months to be able to do anything you’d let out of the basement.

So, back to the beginning. Yes, of course musical talent exists. But so do barriers to using specific instruments. One barrier is that talent. But with certain instruments there’s a high technical barrier to get over before you can even think about actually applying musical ability. Given that incentives matter those with that proven musical ability don’t bother to pick up those instruments that have the technical barrier, not as second, fourth and tenth instruments they don’t.

Rather fun

I went to Germany for two months and came back five years later with a family. I never got famous or rich, but I’ve done what I wanted.

I, for one, say let’s do it for the musicians

According to the Broken Record campaign, artists receive about 16 per cent of the income from streams, while record companies take about 41 per cent and streaming services 29 per cent.

The committee heard that while musicians were struggling the biggest record labels — Universal, Sony and Warner — were making record profits.

Many musicians are lobbying for streaming platforms to employ an Equitable Renumeration system, which is used to cover royalties due from music played on radio and gives a roughly 50-50 split between artists and labels.

Great. Let’s do it.

Altho’ someone should point out to the musicians. Radio only pays songwriters, there’s no payment to acts or musicians. Streaming pays songwriters and musicians……

Don’t I know this feeling

She enrolled at the University of Michigan to study music, majoring in the cello, yet once there discovered to her dismay that she was not as talented as she had believed. The thought of practising eight hours a day only to remain mediocre did not appeal.

I was a perfectly decent trumpeter. I was also a bad musician. Just didn’t – don’t – have that feel for it. Keys and rhythms and transposition and fifths and thirds and why you’d use one instead of the other. I got to the stage where I could play well. Well enough to get paid for it too. But that’s where it would stick – even if I practised so as to continue to expand range, better tone and so on, I’d never actually be a musician.

So, I stopped. True, I didn’t then go on to develop some other skill that compensated but still, hours a day (you can’t actually play the trumpet 8 hours a day but I would have needed to step up to 2 to 3 hours just to be a pub player, or perhaps third trumpet in some second rate orchestra) to be mediocre just didn’t appeal.

Ho hum, although there’s a value to learning such a lesson at 17 or 18…..