What Rises to the Top

I've come to some self-realization over the course of the past few nights. Funny, the things you come up with when you're under the influence of a steady diet of too many words and too little sleep. Let's see if I can explain this coherently; I'm a little muddy in the brain today...

Since the Sixties, I've felt a bit out of touch musically, like my finger is never quite on the pulse of what's going on. That's why when I was a teen I relied on my friends to play me "the good stuff" — Pat Demory introduced me to Jimi Hendrix, JP Deni introduced me to Peter, Paul & Mary, Arlo Guthrie, etc. Maybe it's because I'm a songwriter myself and I've always had my head in my own music instead of that of other artists. I've always felt a bit out of step, like a waltz in 5/4 time. A good example of this is how I've only just in the past year turned myself onto Jimmy Page, Rory Gallagher and Brian May, and this past week the songwriting talent of Nick van Eede, of Cutting Crew (pictured above).

For decades now, I've attributed this "always being late to the party" condition to just so much having my head up my backside and of being oblivious to what's going on outside of my own artistic endeavors, but I now know that I was wrong about that. The truth is, I apparently wait and see what survives after all the hoopla of a musical decade is over. I wait for the cream to rise to the top. This is handy because I never have to waste time and energy sipping the bilge. And when I "discover" someone, it's like they're all mine because I'm no longer hearing them every time I turn on the car radio. It's personal, private, and I encounter the artist as if they're sitting in my living room. The chaos of their fame is over and they're telling me about their work rather than their press, their image, or their success. It's pure. It's about music, not celebrity.

I converse with a lot of ghosts these days, both the dead and the living.

Good music is timeless and a good song will remain a good song even after the artist has moved on or is no longer walking around the planet. As time passes, like a child that strives for independence, good music gains a life and an identity of its own, and it goes on to inspire others. When the pre-fab pop idols that are stroked off by the star-maker machinery are gone, the good stuff will remain.

Here is a perfectly crafted song from 1986. It's as good—if not better—today as it was back then. Hard to believe that van Eede is 52 now. By the way, their album, Broadcast, is excellent. You can preview the tracks here.