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BS: Does the musician's character matter?

Ed Pellow 21 Jul 00 - 12:15 PM
Mbo 21 Jul 00 - 12:23 PM
Amergin 21 Jul 00 - 12:30 PM
Rick Fielding 21 Jul 00 - 12:31 PM
catspaw49 21 Jul 00 - 12:35 PM
Ed Pellow 21 Jul 00 - 12:40 PM
DougR 21 Jul 00 - 12:43 PM
Frankham 21 Jul 00 - 12:43 PM
Rick Fielding 21 Jul 00 - 12:54 PM
rangeroger 21 Jul 00 - 12:57 PM
Whistle Stop 21 Jul 00 - 12:58 PM
Ed Pellow 21 Jul 00 - 01:07 PM
Pseudolus 21 Jul 00 - 01:14 PM
Songster Bob 21 Jul 00 - 01:30 PM
dwditty 21 Jul 00 - 01:32 PM
Catrin 21 Jul 00 - 01:33 PM
catspaw49 21 Jul 00 - 01:37 PM
GUEST,MoohTooh 21 Jul 00 - 01:52 PM
GUEST 21 Jul 00 - 02:09 PM
Gary T 21 Jul 00 - 02:16 PM
catspaw49 21 Jul 00 - 02:25 PM
Mike Regenstreif 21 Jul 00 - 02:50 PM
DougR 21 Jul 00 - 03:43 PM
GUEST,Steve Latimer 21 Jul 00 - 06:47 PM
Jimmy C 21 Jul 00 - 07:28 PM
Pseudolus 21 Jul 00 - 07:32 PM
catspaw49 21 Jul 00 - 07:40 PM
Jimmy C 21 Jul 00 - 07:44 PM
Sorcha 21 Jul 00 - 08:10 PM
Catrin 21 Jul 00 - 08:11 PM
Gary T 21 Jul 00 - 08:29 PM
Mike Regenstreif 21 Jul 00 - 09:22 PM
Sorcha 21 Jul 00 - 09:25 PM
Amos 21 Jul 00 - 09:34 PM
Amergin 21 Jul 00 - 09:50 PM
katlaughing 21 Jul 00 - 10:23 PM
Mbo 21 Jul 00 - 10:34 PM
Mbo 21 Jul 00 - 10:47 PM
Rick Fielding 21 Jul 00 - 11:05 PM
GUEST,WyoWoman 21 Jul 00 - 11:12 PM
Mbo 21 Jul 00 - 11:16 PM
rangeroger 22 Jul 00 - 12:42 AM
Peter Kasin 22 Jul 00 - 03:13 AM
GUEST,Owlkat 22 Jul 00 - 03:25 AM
Nicole Leonard 22 Jul 00 - 03:38 AM
Gary T 22 Jul 00 - 09:50 AM
Gary T 22 Jul 00 - 09:53 AM
robroy 22 Jul 00 - 10:45 AM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Jul 00 - 12:57 PM
Gervase 23 Jul 00 - 05:40 AM
GUEST,science nut 23 Jul 00 - 10:01 AM
GUEST,sceince nut 23 Jul 00 - 10:03 AM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Jul 00 - 11:29 AM
catspaw49 23 Jul 00 - 11:40 AM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Jul 00 - 11:53 AM
Gary T 23 Jul 00 - 01:54 PM
Ebbie 24 Jul 00 - 12:59 AM
Thomas the Rhymer 24 Jul 00 - 02:25 AM
Whistle Stop 24 Jul 00 - 08:47 AM
GUEST 24 Jul 00 - 11:59 AM
Mbo 24 Jul 00 - 12:04 PM
Frankham 24 Jul 00 - 12:16 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 24 Jul 00 - 12:38 PM
Whistle Stop 24 Jul 00 - 12:43 PM
Kim C 24 Jul 00 - 12:46 PM
Mini Me 24 Jul 00 - 12:48 PM
wysiwyg 24 Jul 00 - 12:49 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 24 Jul 00 - 12:58 PM
MAG (inactive) 24 Jul 00 - 01:10 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 24 Jul 00 - 01:11 PM

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Subject: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Ed Pellow
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 12:15 PM

Talking to a friend last night, the conversation turned to music, and my friend mentioned that one of her favourite ever songs is 'Because' by the Beatles.

In the course of the conversation, I mentioned that it (and this is fairly well documented) was written under the influence of heroin.

My friend (who has good reason to despise hard drugs) instantly changed her opinion on the song, and that had she known that 'fact,' she would never have liked the song to begin with.

So, my question is, does it matter what a musician, writer etc is like? Does the song stand alone, or is it 'part' of the person who wrote it?

To take the most extreme example that I can think of, if you discovered that your favorite song was written by a paedophile, would it change your opinion of how great the song was?

I'd be interested in any opinions

Ed


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Mbo
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 12:23 PM

Well Ed, I was just listening to "Because" yesterday (no pun intended!) And I know it was written under the influence of drugs, as are many many pieces of music, from Classical music to modern rock. For me, it doesn't lessen the music at all, even though I despise narcotics and their effects. It's usually other things about the musician/singer/writer that tend to bug me.

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Amergin
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 12:30 PM

The song is like the poem is always a part of the person who wrote it. At least that is if they feel enough for the piece. But if I found out something about the person who wrote a great song that I didn't like, that wouldn't make that song any less great...As usual I have no idea what the hell I'm talking about.....

Amergin....


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 12:31 PM

God Damned Right it does.(sorry for the profanity...I don't usually express myself that way, and won't in the future)

Rick


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: catspaw49
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 12:35 PM

I see it two different ways Ed.

I read a book. I like it....Guy's a pedophile it turns out. I'm likely to say, "Hmmm, but its still a good book."

I read a book written by a guy I KNOW is a pedophile. In this case, I doubt that I can seriously judge the book since my thoughts are already prejudiced.

And of course my prejudices differ from others. Drugs don't bother me, pedophiles do.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Ed Pellow
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 12:40 PM

Rick,

Can you expand a bit please?

Ed

(who's just heard Paul Brady's version of Arthur McBride for the first time, and thinks it's possibly the best thing in the whole world ever!)


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: DougR
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 12:43 PM

Hmmm. Rick, now that you have got that out of your system, could you elucidate a bit more? This Thread, it seems to me, is closely akin to the one on Cat Stevens a few days ago. I kind of gathered from your posting on that thread that you felt that the worth of the art outweighed any deficiences that the creator might have. Or perhaps you do not view the similarity of the two threads as I do.

DougR


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Frankham
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 12:43 PM

Ultunately I do think it matters. We are all human beings and make mistakes that follow us sometime.

Lots of people who are "stars" are often misinterpreted and made ugly by the press. But they are just human beings subjected to everything we all are.

Some of these "stars" are paranoid and maybe there is a reason when you think of John Lennon.

It's a rough life. It's a crazy life. It's very hard work to be a pro musician/performer singer, actor or whatever. It's underpaid for the work you put in but you do it because you love it. There is always that period of beating your head against the stone wall before you become accepted by the public. This can make some crazy. It's like setting your guts out on stage and offering the audience to stomp on 'em.

When they stop stomping, you become accepted.

Musicians et. al. are no more mean or ornery than anyone else. And that might be a miracle in itself considering the gauntlet they have to run.

Frank


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 12:54 PM

Well it depends of course on what each person sees as "good character" doesn't it? Regarding the Cat Stephens thread: I have no idea how Cat treats his fellow humans, so I'd have no reason to question the validity of his music, one way or another, except on the basis of whether I liked it or not (I love it)

Respect for other folks has been a biggy for me.

Rick


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: rangeroger
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 12:57 PM

Ed,
why don't you ask your friend if she likes the music of Ray Charles and James Taylor? They were both heavy heroin users for a long time, but produced some excellent music.

I do believe a musician's character does matter,but I believe it shows in alot more things than just their use of drugs.I'm not trying to belittle the fact of their drug use,but I look at people like Madonna and Marilyn Manson and I can't stand them for what they are personnally.I won't listen to their music.

rr


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 12:58 PM

I agree that this does seem similar to the Cat Stevens thread.

There are a lot of musicians that I admire, but if I really knew them intimately, there would probably be something about most or all of them that I did not like or approve of. I reserve the right to like their work, regardless of other considerations. What I think is interesting is that we exalt certain musicians because we admire their art, and deliberately try to distort their less-appealing characteristics to make them seem more appealing even in non-musical areas. Then we go even further when they die.

John Lennon is a great example -- talented guy, with a certain incisive wit and insight into the madness that is fame. But let's face it, the guy was a bit of a nut, and a lot of his political opinions were really half-baked. For myself, I don't have any problem admiring certain things about the guy, and not admiring others. But there is a tendency to worship the man in all his various and complex aspects, which can really get pretty comical if you try to look at things rationally.


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Ed Pellow
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 01:07 PM

I'm sorry if I've asked a question which has been dealt with recently in another thread. I don't have enough time to read everything here.

I'll go and read the Cat Stevens one.

Ed


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Pseudolus
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 01:14 PM

I also think that the song is seperate from the composer but it really depends on what emotions the composer's life decisions evoke in me. I have two daughters and if I found out that the composer of a favorite song was a pedophile then I would probably not be able to sing the song again as much as I would like to. It would start a thought process in me that I would hate. If the composer was a drug addict or something along those lines, well, then, he/she is doing damage to themself and most likely I would be quite capable of singing the song.....unless the composer overdosed and left two children parentless or something like that.... It's amazing the effect two daughters can have on your own life decisions and opinions....hmmmm...

Frank


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Songster Bob
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 01:30 PM

Some comments. I'll put 'em in [brackets,] since we have no automatic way to mark what I just cut and pasted from Whistle-Stop's posting.

>There are a lot of musicians that I admire, but if I really knew them intimately, there would probably be something about most or all of them that I did not like or approve of. [True. Some of them are right bastards, when you come down to it. ] I reserve the right to like their work, regardless of other considerations. [Again, I agree, although it is sometimes hard to separate the one from the other, AND it's also sometimes the point that the artist is attempting to put his message into his work, and knowing about the artist makes the message-insertion more obvious. In other words, sometimes it's easier to see the method in the madness when you recognize the madness.]

What I think is interesting is that we exalt certain musicians because we admire their art, and deliberately try to distort their less-appealing characteristics to make them seem more appealing even in non-musical areas. Then we go even further when they die.

[Not only that, but -- and this ties in with so much of popular culture these days -- we also ascribe qualities to other aspects of their lives that may not be accurate. For example, you mention Lennon's politics below. Why did we even ask him what his political views were? Why did we care? Writers of "message" songs we should care about, but not pop songsters. I know, I know, the 60s turned EVERYONE into political pundits, and "freedom of opinion" came to mean "has to have an opinion," an equation I think we should negate as soon as we can.]

John Lennon is a great example -- talented guy, with a certain incisive wit and insight into the madness that is fame. But let's face it, the guy was a bit of a nut, and a lot of his political opinions were really half-baked.

[As a creature of his time, though, they were perfectly normal. That is, very much of the "truth" we took for granted then was poppycock, just as it is today (different days, different truths, same old song). And Lennon's "truths" were as half-baked as the rest of those on either side of the idealogical divide.]

For myself, I don't have any problem admiring certain things about the guy, and not admiring others. But there is a tendency to worship the man in all his various and complex aspects, which can really get pretty comical if you try to look at things rationally.

[See above.]

[The inability of the typical man or woman to think for him or herself is amazing, and the various media outlets pander to the quick and easy answer, which just encourages this.

The Big Lie technique in politics results in a "fill-in-the-blank" reaction on all sides. For example, what words do you "hear" preceding the word "liberal?" Because of the "Great Communicator's" ability to make the connection in our minds, we (US Americans, anyway) actually "hear" the words "tax-and-spend" preceding the word "liberal," even if we think of ourselves as liberals, as I do. A great effort to divide the populace in pavlovian fashion, and all for mere political advantage.

Damn. I'm depressing myself. Think I'll go sing a song. And I won't even care who wrote it!]

Bob Clayton


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: dwditty
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 01:32 PM

First off, that a person may or may not use drugs or alcohol or cigarettes does not necessarily, in my book, determine whether or not they are of good character - they're judgement may be in question, but they may be fine people. But that's me. We all have personal lines drawn as to what constitutes character. I have to say that I can't think of any songs that I like by anyone I consider really evil - and I put pedophilia in that category. So I would say "yes" I think our understanding of the person's character does effect how we hear the music. This does not mean that music that I do not like is necessarily put out by a bad person - take Neil Diamond, for example. Probably a perfrectly nice guy, but....

Now I have to leave immediately and go listen to that Paul Brady version again.
dw


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Catrin
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 01:33 PM

Mmmm, not sure about this one (when am I ever?) If we do use 'lifestyle', 'political beliefs' etc of the artist to influence our judgement of the piece of work that is created, then can we ever know enough to make an informed opinion? Perhaps we can never know enough about the artist anyway.

Some people who portray an image of purity, simplicity or whatever, might be just the opposite (but never get 'found out'). Somebody portrayed as being 'drug user' 'paedophile' or whatever could be falsely accused. Who am I to know?

But then again, is it possible to view the piece of work in isolation, away from our own prejudices etc.

Ed. you got me stumped.

Catrin


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: catspaw49
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 01:37 PM

Tell ya' what Bob......Go sing "The Star Spangled Banner" since it has the same situation......Aren't the last two words...PLAY BALL?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: GUEST,MoohTooh
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 01:52 PM

IMHO the persona matters.

I hope the echo of other's remarks is not too loud. When behavior, habits, addictions etc make a musician or artist unpleasant, or gives them a disagreeable character in the opinion of the listener, then yes the character matters. If this character is only self-destructive, it is not as important (to me) as when it's destructive of others and their surroundings. Taking into account the human qualities of forgiveness and temptation, the parameters of this are quite variable. Nonetheless, the PERSONA matters to the delivery of a song. (Example: Madonna singing American Pie, see another thread re that.) I might also point out that some very important and good songs have been written by people with qualities many find disagreeable, because it is that disagreeable experience/quality which gives the writer the ability/experience/knowledge to write the song in the first place.

Peace, MoohTooh (Mooh from elsewhere).


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 02:09 PM

Nabokov's Lolita is about an inappropriate relationship between a mature man and a very young girl. Although the subject matter is abhorrent and repulsive, he writes with such eloquence and style that the reader can appreciate the artistry of the book without compromising one's ethical and moral standards vis-a-vis pedophilia.


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Gary T
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 02:16 PM

Lots of food for thought here. The song, in and of itself, would normally stand or fall on its own merits. But...if a phrase in the song that would be perfectly innocent to most folks turned out to also be pedophile slang/code for something abominable, that would have to be considered. Some songs are very closely tied to the particular songwriter, others are of a more general or universal nature to where it doesn't seem to matter who wrote them.

I can see liking someone's songs but disliking the artist to the point of not intentionally contributing to his income (e.g., buying albums). And I can imagine being so revulsed with an artist so as to be embarassed to even sing the songs, an egregious example being "Here's a great song I want to sing/play for you--it was written by the person who raped you/your spouse/your kid."

Since we each have different criteria and threshholds as to what is unacceptable, there won't be universal agreement about which songs and artists we would shun. But I think the answer to the question is, to paraphrase Rick, "absolutely".


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: catspaw49
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 02:25 PM

The only thing that bothers me about anything you said Gary is when people start ascribing "meanings" into songs as codes for something. Soon there will be another of those "wonderful" urban legends develop about what so and so REALLY meant. Some of those take away the joy of a song to me. No matter how hard you try, your mind is still flashing on the possibilities.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Mike Regenstreif
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 02:50 PM

Hazel Dickens has a song called "It's Hard to Tell the Singer from the Song" and, if that's at all true, then a musician's character does indeed matter.

I know for example, that some people think highly of the music composed by Richard Wagner. But Wagner was also an anti-Semitic essayist whose writings were influential on Adolf Hitler whose anti-Semitism led to the genocidal murder of 6,000,000 Jews (as well as the murders of millions of Gypsies, homosexuals, etc.)

Hitler and the Nazis used Wagner's music as one of their most important manifestations of Aryan cultural accomplishment.

So, because of Wagner's character (and because of the way that his music was used by the Nazis) some other people, myself included, cannot, or will not, listen to Wagner.

Mike Regenstreif


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: DougR
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 03:43 PM

Ed, I think it is an interesting thread and it really is different from the Thread on Cat Stevens. No one,as I recall, questioned Cat Stevens' character. Criticisms centered around his judgement as I believe.

I, too, think character is important ...in everybody, not just artists. I must admit, however, that I'm not sure it would sway me as to whether or not I would listen to his or her music. Probably it wouldn't (unless he/she was a pedophile ...that is different in my mind), When I worked at the Arts Endowment, a very famous actor was a member of the National Council on the Arts. I had always greatly admired him, until I got to know him. In real life he is arrogant, opinionated, and not at all nice to be around (unless he considers you his equal). At the same time, James Earl Jones and Charlton Heston were on the Council. I found them to be friendly, congenial, treated the staff with respect, etc. Even though I do not like the unidentifed actor, I recognize that he is excellent at what he does, as an actor. I would not boycott his movies simply because I think he is a AH.


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: GUEST,Steve Latimer
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 06:47 PM

Boy, I sure wouldn't have heard much music if I chose not to listen to dopers and drunks. For that matter, I may not have read much either.


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Jimmy C
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 07:28 PM

I think the character of the singer/songwriter does matter ONLY IF the song promotes things that I am against i,e, drugs and pedophilia etc. If not then judge the song as it stands (on its own merit).

Ty Cobb was a great baseball player but apparently a real S.O.B. of the playing field, so do we judge him on his playing or his character ?.


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Pseudolus
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 07:32 PM

Jimmy C, I wonder how Pete Rose would answer that question?? LOL....

Frank


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: catspaw49
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 07:40 PM

or Joe Jackson.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Jimmy C
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 07:44 PM

I wouldn't want to bet on their answer.


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Sorcha
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 08:10 PM

Yes. What you guys said. One difference though, is that drug dependency can be induced and aggravated by the professional entertainer lifestyle. Pedopholia is NOT!

Wagner WAS dead for a long time before Hitler appropriated his music. Makes a difference.

Aida is in the same category as Lolita, but it is still great art.........

I can understand and even condone drug usage, but NEVER pedophelia. After all, just how many MudCatters are drug dependent for their lives? Heart medicine, anti depressants, etc? I'll bet close to 80% or more........Shall we restrict this to mood altering drugs? That includes anti depressants. Shall we restrict this to addictive drugs? That includes most arthritic painkillers..........seems the bane of creative people to be depressed.............waiting for the slam dunk, here.


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Catrin
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 08:11 PM

I'm with Jimmy C. The song, in its own right, is the only thing we have to go on. Love the song for its own sake.

Catrin


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Gary T
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 08:29 PM

Spaw, I know what you mean about ascribing meanings, and share your concern. The silly examples that come to mind are "Puff the Magic Dragon" being a dope song--no doubt due to the schoolyard parody, "Puff the Marijuana"--and "Rocky Mountain High" likewise being a dope song--gettin' high, man (said in the archtypal stoner accent). Some folks seem to have minimal clear sense in this area.

I was thinking of cases where the songwriter clearly had a nefarious meaning in mind. I can't think of any examples offhand, though I have a vague feeling that I've cases of it somewhere, somehow. But you're right, it can be detrimental to jump to unwarranted conclusions.


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Mike Regenstreif
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 09:22 PM

Scorcha said: "Wagner WAS dead for a long time before Hitler appropriated his music. Makes a difference."

Scorcha, may I respectfully suggest that you read Wagner's own essays about Jews. Hitler was his inspired by them and that's WHY Wagner's music was used by the Nazis. And that makes a difference.

Mike Regenstreif


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Sorcha
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 09:25 PM

OK, yes Mike, will do. Sorry.


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Amos
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 09:34 PM

I think Wagner's music, like everyone else's, reflects his character. Ornate, overwrought, complexified beyond reason, pompus, with a nice overlay of harmony on the top to keep you guessing. I liked it much better when Warner brothers adapted it with Elmer and Bugs doing the main voices.

Anyone who produces music has done good stuff and bad stuff. My secret opinion is that the best stuff is the result of his actual character, regardless of the transient state of his chemistry. The drugs did not put that song into that singer or writer. They may have prevented a better song coming out at the time, I guess. But my sense is the highest beauty an artist suceeds at creating is the best reflection of his deepest character. FWIW.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Amergin
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 09:50 PM

Gary T, "nefarious meaning"? Does that mean that one shouldn't write songs about drugs and pedophilia? If one were to do so would that decrease their talent in your eyes? Sorry, I'm just trying to understand what you meant by "nefarious"...

Amergin


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: katlaughing
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 10:23 PM

I had to do a report on Wagner in junior high orchestra class. I found out that he had to have silk touching his body and that he liked to stare at pretty women through a hole in his floor upstairs, for stimulus....I used to like listening to Parsifal, but over the years his stuff just sounds too heavy.


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Mbo
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 10:34 PM

I've always like Wagner's music. Especially the opera "Tannhauser". Love "Song To The Evening Star" and "FestMarch" and "Pilgrim's Chorus"...

Giacomo Meyebeer was also anti-Semitic, anti-Black, and anti-Catholic as well, but people seem to LOVE his music...

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Mbo
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 10:47 PM

That should be Meyerbeer...


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 11:05 PM

I think the fact that folks still argue about Wagner (or Leni Reifenstahl for that matter) usually means that their work was damn good. If they were total hacks we'd just drop it. It's a real fine line isn't it, and we all draw it from personal or family experience.

I worked at Toronto Children's Aid Society, and found that most of the young teenagers I was supposed to help had been used sexually by adults (usually their parents) so paedophilia ranks right up at the top for me on the disgust scale. But I also know that puts me in the same camp with a lot of ignorant queer-bashers. It's not a comfortable position as I'm certainly pro gay-rights. (I could hardly be such a fan of Quentin Crisp, if I wasn't) I've listened to Wagner, but if I was Jewish, I'd have a HUGE dillema. The guy was a pig, but a good musician. Don't forget H.G. Welles...another talented bigot.

I've known some really fine musicians who simply were not nice people. I TRY to appreciate their music alone....but it's difficult. I go back and forth on this one.

Rick


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: GUEST,WyoWoman
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 11:12 PM

Well ... being a devoted disciple of the Middle Path, I think it's possible to still love and perform music by someone who was a druggie or a drunk -- I mean, Lord knows i love Townes VanZant's stuff and alcohol eventually killed him. And if we stopped reading or singing works by people with substance abuse problems, well, we'd all be singing "Up, Up with People" pretty soon. And there would go half the authors we've come to know and, if not precisely love, at least like a whole, whole lot (Faulkner, Hemingway, etc., etc.)

However, since someone said to me that "In the Arms of the Angel" that Sarah McLaughlin sings is about heroin use, I've had real mixed feelings about the song. I love it and would love to sing it, but if I really think it's about heroin, I simply won't sing it, except in the privacy of my own home -- or maybe in certain situations, but with the caveat that "I know this lovely song is about heroin, but I still love it and hope we can hear it in a different context."

And I"m not certain how pedophilia fits in this discussion, but although I have no problem singing songs written by drinkers and druggers, I can't stand to go to any of Woody Allen's movies any more since he ended up with his adopted daughter. It's not as if I've made some self-righteous declaration, it's just that I think of Woody Allen and sort of shudder and don't feel compelled to go see his movies any more ...

WW


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Mbo
Date: 21 Jul 00 - 11:16 PM

Sometimes it doesn't bug me at all...I ADORE "Cigarettes & Alcohol" by Oasis (great life re-affirming song) even though I don't do cigarettes or alcohol....but I do like lasagna...

--Matt


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: rangeroger
Date: 22 Jul 00 - 12:42 AM

Mbo, just remember that Lasagna is a gateway food that will lead you down the road to heavier foods.Pretty soon you will be drinking dark red wines with them and be forever lost.

rr


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Peter Kasin
Date: 22 Jul 00 - 03:13 AM

I've met people of my parents generation who would not listen to recordings of classical musicians ho stayed in Germany during the nazi era. If they don't want to listen to Furtwangler or Walter Gieseking, that is their own personal decision. Eveyone has their own comfort level with listening to musicians who's values or behavior are found to be abhorrent to them. Personally, I have no ethical problem listening to musicians who have taken drugs, though I am not in favor of hard drugs. Charlie Parker is one of my all-time favorite musicians, for example. I draw the line on another issue. It would be very unfair for people in positions of power, who can hire and fire musicians, to make those decisions based on their judgements of the musician's character. Many jazz musicians of the bebop era, mostly African-Americans, were denied pursuing their livelyhoods when music licenses were ordered to be issued and denied to musicians. This was done because of the drug habits of a number of jazz musicians. That treatment of them was a gross injustice, whatever one's feelings about drugs.


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: GUEST,Owlkat
Date: 22 Jul 00 - 03:25 AM

Hi, It's tricky to judge absolutely in the arts. Pablo Picasso was a right bastard, but a brilliant painter. Gordon Lightfoot is rude to his audiences, but a gifted songwriter. If the art speaks to the heart, maybe the weaknesses of the creator can be taken on spec. Owl.


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Nicole Leonard
Date: 22 Jul 00 - 03:38 AM

The 'nefarious meaning' topic is very interesting, especially in relation to the lyrical content of a song. For example, a guy I know plays a lot of old blues songs, many of which are about 'going out and shooting my woman dead cos she done me wrong' sort of thing. Does this mean that people who like to play and listen to this style of blues music condone misogyny? (the same would apply to modern day rap music which also has some nasty attitudes towards women). Personally, I think it is possible to like the music in spite of the imperfections of the artist (I mean, nobody's perfect) but if it was a subject I felt strongly about, I couldn't help feeling biased against it, anyway.


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Gary T
Date: 22 Jul 00 - 09:50 AM

Okay, Amergin and Nicole, I'll try to flesh out and clarify my previous comments. This may be a little difficult, since I posted them with more of an "off the top of my head" approach than a carefully thought-through approach (in other words, how should I know? I only wrote the stuff-BG).

First I said: "But...if a phrase in the song that would be perfectly innocent to most folks turned out to also be pedophile slang/code for something abominable, that would have to be considered." Here I meant songs that had a non-obvious underlying message or meaning. I don't have an exact example, but as a close parallel, I'll offer "Ruby", as sung by Ray Charles. It sounds like a love song, Ruby being the object of his affection. I've been told, however, that it's actually referring to heroin. Lines like "They say, Ruby you're like a song, you just don't know right from wrong," and "I hear your voice, and I must come to you, I have no choice, so what else can I do," would fit this interpretation. The point being, if you would hate to sing a song about heroin, and if the song really is about heroin, you would like to be aware of this.

Then Spaw said: "The only thing that bothers me about anything you said Gary is when people start ascribing "meanings" into songs as codes for something." In the example above, the question would be is the song really about heroin (is that what the songwriter intended?), or did someone just come up with that idea and start a rumor (in the case of "Ruby", I don't know).

Then I said: "I was thinking of cases where the songwriter clearly had a nefarious meaning in mind." Again, in this example, was the heroin metaphor actually the songwriter's intent as opposed to someone else's second-guessing that intent. Since I was referring to songs that were not obvious in their meaning, it would probably require a statement from the songwriter to be certain.

Now in the point Nicole brought up, there's a difference in that those songs are clear in their statements--no allusions and metaphors to sift through and interpret. I like a song Wayon Jennings did called "Cedartown, Georgia". In it, the narrator catches his wife with another man and plans to shoot (kill) them. In real life, I detest such actions. But the song doesn't say "go out and do this", it just tells a story. In "The Banks of the Ohio", it tells a story about a fellow killing his love and doesn't even give a clue as to why. These songs don't bother me. I think I would be bothered by some of the more misogynistic rap songs, but I don't really know any of them, I just have an impression about them from other people's comments.

So perhaps the question remains, what really does bother me? What do I consider nefarious, and where would I draw the line? I don't have a set answer. I could certainly make those judgments on a case-by-case basis, and do. But I, like many of us I imagine, enjoy and sing songs that don't necessarily reflect my values. Just as there's a difference between real life and the movies, there's a difference between real life and songs, and I don't hold songs and their stories to the same standards that I would apply to actual behavior.


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Gary T
Date: 22 Jul 00 - 09:53 AM

Hey, who forgot to close the italics in my post? Dang.


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: robroy
Date: 22 Jul 00 - 10:45 AM

The worst bit is the addiction and the ensuing problems coz the good bits take some beating " One pinch of pure white snow goes quickly to your brain. In Peace your mind withdraws and then your heart can feel no pain". Can't think of too many alternatives.


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Jul 00 - 12:57 PM

That's one good thing about traditional singers of traditional songs. They pass on the songs, it doesn't really matter too much if they might be pretty badly flawed.

You wouldn't say "I can't sing that song - it was collected from that really awful person who'd done those awful things." It just wouldn't be relevant.

And there's a real sense in which people who make up songs and music are really just intermediaries, passing on something they picked up from the world around them., something that's been given to them. If something beautiful comes out from a person who seems totally evil, that's something to be thankful for. It's even a sign of hope for us all.

So maybe I'd make a distinction between songs and music that are just OK and songs and music that are beautiful.

As for what songs mean and coded messages and that - a songwriter might have one thing in his or her mind when writing it, but the song doesn't just mean that. Again if you look at traditional songs it becomes easier - who knows or even cares too much about what "the original meaning" of a song was. What matters is how it speaks to us today in our own lives.


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Gervase
Date: 23 Jul 00 - 05:40 AM

If the separation of art and ethics is a problem, how about a pragmatic compromise?
If you like a work, but think its creator is a dubious ratbag, your reaction depends on whether your liking of that work will benefit the ratbag.
If the ratbag or his/her estate will benefit from your appreciation, then, fine, shun the work. However, if the ratbag's dead (Carravaggio, Byron, Mozart, Wagner - or even Lewis Carroll, Grahame Greene, Ben Nicholson, John Lennon....), enjoy. Ars longa, vita brevis.
Because, unfortunately, there seems to be a correlation between being a dubious ratbag and being the creator of great art. If we're to be po-faced we might as well start holding exhibitions of "degenerate art"....Oops, forgot - that's already been done.


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: GUEST,science nut
Date: 23 Jul 00 - 10:01 AM

What operational description of character is to be applied to the behavior of a musician? Is it one person behavior or interpersonal behavior with one other person, with his family, his parents, his music group, the larger community? The audience?
How does one measure the musician's character? Is it by conventional standards of morality? By the breaking of some or all laws? By his words? By his actions in the above situations? Does one reprehensible, rude, thoughtless, or immoral action brand him as having "poor" character? Or two? In which categories? How do we explain the fact that even pedophilia was an accepted activity in many cultures past, marrying fourteen year olds, taking on young male lovers in Greek culture...As previously noted, Asperger's syndrome makes some musicians difficult to tolerate in interpersonal interactions...Is this a character problem? No it is widely assumed to be a cerebullar disorder! What about people with interictal seizures from temporal lobe injuries? Is their behavior a "character" problem? I hope such threads are aimed at dialectical ends....


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: GUEST,sceince nut
Date: 23 Jul 00 - 10:03 AM

that's cerebellar!


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Jul 00 - 11:29 AM

"What operational description of character is to be applied to the behavior of a musician?" The same as for a non-musician.


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: catspaw49
Date: 23 Jul 00 - 11:40 AM

"Ratbag"

Damn, I like that one. Ratbag. Kinda combines Rat Bastard and Scumbag all into one that has a less offensive sound to the more prpoer folks.

Ratbag........very nice.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Jul 00 - 11:53 AM

You mean you don't call people ratbags in the States? You really learn things here.

Thread drift here, but do Americans use the word bloke?


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Gary T
Date: 23 Jul 00 - 01:54 PM

Only when trying to sound English/Australian/etc., McGrath. For most of us, it's a word that's recognized when we hear/see it, but hardly ever used when we're speaking/writing.

"Ratbag" is new one to me. I rather like it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Ebbie
Date: 24 Jul 00 - 12:59 AM

To be somewhat over the top, what if hitler had written some beautiful songs? Would we be comfortable singing one - or perhaps performing it- and saying, "Even though hitler wrote it, it's simply one of my favorite songs"? Hard to believe. Or- since he was a painter of sorts- if he had painted gorgeous pictures that 'spoke' to us, would we hang them in our living room? I doubt it- personally, I would feel I might be inviting some dark being to take up abode...

So what am I saying? I dunno.

Ebbie


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 24 Jul 00 - 02:25 AM

Well now, and here we go, I'll say this aloud... that the artist alone of his works should be proud... And those of us who with our hearsay and rumor... Arise and take notice, alarm the consumer!................

For I have been slandered and rumored and slain... By the likes of assasins with words and disdain... With the twisting of meanings to suit an adgenda... Anyone can when everyone rendors..........................

But creative anommily, always alone... Can't rise up defending, it's honor it's own... For distractions deter from the process we follow... Unless we all rise to experiences hollow?.................

So when lies and deceptions discredit a muse... And for reasons unknown, should we more beauty loose?... Hidden their meanings, so how can we know... Whether songs are deceptive; we ourselves they do show.......

What if the ballads once sung to lost empires... Were written by wandering gypsies and bonfires... If the surviving remains of that culture are with us... Does it matter that lifestyles uncherished afflict us?........

Rumors are seldom true, and they never seem to tell the whole truth... and besides, to some, slander is fashionable! Also, I would venture to say that traditional music is often wtitten about the very subjects we find objectionable. Could it be that thought and dialogue about them was/is one of their objects? ttr


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 24 Jul 00 - 08:47 AM

This is a personal decision, of course. But I think sometimes music SHOULD touch on subject matter that makes us uncomfortable, in order to illustrate a greater truth.

An example would be the many musical references to drugs. For myself, I don't necessarily think drug users are evil or worthy of condemnation. But even if I did, I think there would be value in listening to these works. Many songs about drugs sound as if they are about a romantic relationship. Why? Because a user's relationship with the drug can be very much like a romantic relationship between two people. Sometimes it's a mutually satisfying relationship, sometimes it's unrequited love. Often it's an unbalanced relationship, to say the least, with the user constantly seeking more from the drug than the drug will provide. I can be moved by the passion in these songs if I DON'T know what inspired them, and I can learn from them if I do. Either way, the artistry is working, to my benefit.

Nabokov's Lolita is another example that was cited above, and I think it also illustrates this point. Most of us are uncomfortable with pedophilia, and rightly so. Lolita plays upon this discomfort, as well as Humbert's own discomfort, and cleverly induces in the reader a sense of shared fantasy -- promoting understanding, without condoning the behavior itself. That is art at its best, in my opinion. [By the way, I'm glad I'm anonymous in this forum -- I am as horrified by pedophilia as the rest of you, but I recognize that these comments could be misconstrued, and I could be condemned for them.]

There are other "artists" who simply trade in shock value, without bringing anything else of value to the table. We each get to decide who those artists are, and may refuse to support them if we choose (having identified and categorized them to our own satisfaction, we probably will decide that we don't like their stuff anyway, so refusing to support them financially is an easy decision). But if there is true artistry involved, maybe it's okay that we're uncomfortable with the subject matter.

This topic reminds me of the story of Beethoven's Third Symphony, which was among his greatest works. It was inspired by Napoleon Bonaparte, whom Beethoven admired greatly, and was originally intended to be named after him and dedicated to him. After it was finished, but had not yet been performed publicly, an acquaintance brought Beethoven the news that Napoleon had just declared himself Emperor. This offended Beethoven's republican sensibilities greatly, and in a rage he ran to the table where the finished manuscript lay, and tore up the dedication page. The symphony was renamed Symphonia Eroica -- the "Heroic Symphony" -- and dedicated "to the memory of a great man" (Napoleon was still very much alive). Regardless of its original inspiration, I am happy that Beethoven saw fit to publish it, and that the orchestras of the world have seen fit to perform it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Jul 00 - 11:59 AM

Cross-threading...somewhat related to some of the previous posts.

Everything is connected to everything else.


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Mbo
Date: 24 Jul 00 - 12:04 PM

Guns 'n' Roses has performed some of Charles Manson's songs. I'm sure none of you would have a problem listen to them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Frankham
Date: 24 Jul 00 - 12:16 PM

I have done a great deal of thinking about this thread over the years.

The music (art) has to be separated from the personalities in my opinion.

There is a good book on "Mentoring" that makes the point, you can worship from afar and use that to develop your own skills. You don't have to be near or even like the personality of the person who acts as your mentor.

People drive VW's when the original design was used by Hitler as the "people's wagon". I drove one for many years because it was all I could afford.

Some of our historical figures were alcoholics, slave-owners, ruthless power-brokers et. al. Does this preclude the positive effect they had?

There are many people whose art I admire that I couldn't stand to be in the same room with. I often avoid meeting people whose art I admire so that I will not become disillusioned.

On the other hand, if I know of a favorite artist whose character I feel matches their expression such as Louis Armstrong or Pete Seeger, I am honored to be in their presence.

The art remains. It's there whether the person who created it is a bastard or a saint. In the long run, it's the art that is important when we pay attention to art. When character is important, then that's another story.

Conclusion: Character has little to do with the artistic expression. Character has everything to do with creating a better world within which we can be sensitive to and appreciate the artistic expression.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 24 Jul 00 - 12:38 PM

I am amused when folk performers are compared to visual artists, engineers, composers, and rock and classical musicians. Part of the folk genera that must be addressed is the 'folk' part of folk music. To me it is akin to regular people, not rock stars, not celebrities, and certainly not Charles Manson. This, admittedly compromising to the 'professional', is at the heart of the issue for me. Western consumer culture doesn't bide well with ordinary people doing house concerts, or songs that don't use cleavage as a 'communication' tool. Folk music is by and for folk. The folk profession is.......(please forgive my confusion).


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 24 Jul 00 - 12:43 PM

Would that be Doubting Thomas? At any rate, you are forgiven (I thought it was just me...).


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Kim C
Date: 24 Jul 00 - 12:46 PM

Hmmm. I don't know about this one. I love John Lennon's work but I doubt I could have ever been friends with him. I don't know that I have ever not enjoyed someone's work because of their personal stuff. 'Course, most of the time I don't bother to learn about the personal stuff, because most of the time it just doesn't interest me. I guess I have never really thought about it. In the arts & entertainment fields in general, there are a lot of people over the centuries who have had personal problems, with substance abuse, mental illness, etc. I don't know why that seems to come with the territory.(There is a book called "Touched with Fire" that deals with the connection between creativity and mental illness.)

Mostly I guess I feel sorry for people with great promise who destroy themselves, or get destroyed by other means.


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Mini Me
Date: 24 Jul 00 - 12:48 PM

Dear Catters, In my opinion John Lennon was a tremendous song writer. How much of this song ( Because ) had help from Paul and other great creative studio processes , goes without saying. A song is created and embraced/loved by one and all. ( Do you question what influence ( if any ) your own countries National Anthem was created under ? ). Usually not ! Enjoy the song for what it's worth. We all know John Lennon was not a media darling ( or maybe he just told the truth to often ). However, if drugs made him or helped him create that song , than so be it. ( How many songs over the past 100 years in rock, jazz , folk, pop and possibly classical were created or started under the influence ? ) Please understand I have just nursed a younger brother ( the age of 40 ) through a heroin overdose ( where his kidneys shut down ) for the past 3 months and it hasn't changed my love or respect for my brother and/or John Lennon.

Mike Strobel


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 24 Jul 00 - 12:49 PM

"Does the musician's character matter?"

Of course. Especially one's own, since that's the only one we can really take responsibility for.

~S~


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 24 Jul 00 - 12:58 PM

Praise,... That was excelent!


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 24 Jul 00 - 01:10 PM

I can see this thread is beginning to unravel, but that never seems to stop me putting in my .02.

However much Madonna tries to reinvent herself, the woman is an exhibitionist. Songs like "Papa Don't preach" have done a LOT of harm.

Numerous friends stopped liking "Sisters of Mercy" when I enlightened them to the fact Leonard Cohen was talking about prostitutes. I can't forgive him for his penchant for sleeping with underage females. I understand he defiantly refused to apologize for that. If you love *Beautiful Losers* I suggest you think about that. It's nothing but people hurting each other, over and over and over.

Hitler grew up (literally) with the Pan-Germanic movement which was rabidly anti-Semitic. Since he hated his father, who was a leader of same, he couldn't admit that's where his politics came from, but the apple didn't fall far from the tree just the same. Unfortunately, that history was a reality from Austria to England. Wagner was a bum, and so were a lot of Europeans, from D.H Lawrence to the Windsors. (And while I'm on my soapbox, the cultural Germany of Spinoza, and Heinrich Heine, et. al, was refined and elegant and worthy.)

"That's What You Get for Loving Me" speaks for itself.


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Subject: RE: BS: Does the musician's character matter?
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 24 Jul 00 - 01:11 PM

Performers that we see are generally exuding a 'point of view' that we appreciate, ie. persona. Songwriters are not so exposed, or up front. A good song stands on its own, but a non organic apple is delicious, AND might be toxic.

Also, the character behind a pleasant stranger may supprise you. In my world, the creeps more often than not are the ones that try their best at "looking regular". Can YOU tell the difference? Honesty is as honesty does.


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This Thread Is Closed.


Mudcat time: 30 September 4:20 PM EDT

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