The Latest issue of Performing Songwriter has a short interview (PDF file download) with Bruce Hornsby that has a few nuggests I really admire.
"I never liked the audience you aquire from having hits on the radio. I always thought it was a soft core audience. It wasn't a real music loving audience"
I admire that - but I must disclose that a tune off Bruce's last album was ALL OVER radio - but not in rotation - in a COMMERICAL for the home improvement store Lowes!
No worries Bruce . . . . I still dig the idea.
And this one in particular resonates with me -
"Most songwriters perform their songs with what I consider to be the museum piece approach. You write the song, you work it up and record it and you play it like that forever.
Frankly, most of the crowd wants to hear that. They're there for a nostalgic reason. They're not there for music in a present tense, to hear something creatively new. That is a real creative prison.
My approach to performing my songs is that I want them to be living beings that can evolve and grow and change through the years.
I'm well aware that 90% of the listening audience doesn't want to hear music that way. But I can't be bothered with that. I'm too restless to do it the other way. It would just feel like I was shackeld in a Ramada Inn lounge playing Top 40."
Over my 14 years in radio - I've really come to admire those few artists (like Hornsby) who get in, get a radio hit or 2 and then get out to pursue more meaningful music.
Hornsby is an amazing musician. It would be a shame to hear him still churning out endless iterations of "The Way it Is".
There are very few artists who maintain deep musical integrity AND get radio play over long periods of time. U2 is the only example that springs to mind right now.
It's not that radio is bad - it's that it's radio. It has to appeal to THE MOST amount of people. The music that makes it to radio has mass appeal qualities - it's music that the most number of people can agree on . Which often means as much about what the music is NOT, as what it IS.
So I guess I am sort of a purist. I don't despise the "mainstream" as many musicians do. (often out of envy in my view) If you can pop into the mainstream for a while and get paid - go for it - that's beautiful.
I just think the mainstream is like Las Vegas - you visit and enjoy it - but you don't want to live there.
Or maybe you do. ,-)