It was a conversation even more freewheeling than Dylan’s Desolation Row, but came down to the fact that many of today’s musicians- songwriters, artists, bands, arrangers, producers and even A&R people in music companies- have a piss poor knowledge of the history of music, and how, without this- and just to keep with the urination metaphor- one is just pissing in the wind.

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We talked about the songs of Hoagy Carmichael, Tin Pan Alley, Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer, Sinatra, the bad habits and tortured souls of Robert Johnson, Billie Holliday and Chet Baker, Jimmy Webb, Leon Russell, smack versus acid and the lessons learnt from those we have lost along the way.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4ZyuULy9zs

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We questioned- well one of us did- about whether Kurt Cobain’s cop out from life had, like others in Rock and Roll’s 27 Club, made him reach iconic status while questioning his musicianship- meaning, was he and is he overrated?

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5evYQzBVg7Y

Was he like the James Dean of the Grunge era, who died too soon- but what would a 40-year-old Kurt Cobain be like and, like the Sex Pistols before him, was it more image than content? You tell me.

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Listening to some of incredibly creative mashups around today, what kept coming through this conversation was just how little many of those making music today know about the music of yesterday and how, without this knowledge, one could be cloistered away writing songs in isolation that many in the music industry have heard before.

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Whether the songs of Nick Drake, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Cat Stevens or Carole King, Gerry Goffin and those other Brill Building writers plus the body of work of the Beatles, Dylan, the Stones, Ray Davies, Led Zeppelin, Pete Townshend, Hendrix, Cream, Traffic etc, it’s all homework to study,which is all out there to inspire and lessons in how to take one’s own songs and make them better.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJV81mdj1ic

Today’s music is divided and sub-divided and then RE-sub-divided into many different styles with many Indie musicians turning their noses up at “manufactured” artists and recordings and the advent of the DJ.

But you know what?

All this could well be true, but it’s also succeeding and selling and popular whereas many of those doing the criticizing need to look inwardly and ask themselves if they are truly original or have become legends in their own lunchtime through some Facebook “likes”, “views” and “retweets”- none of which pay the rent-and have been lulled- and dulled- into a very false sense of importance?

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The history of music and those who created all this greatness is all available for free at The YouTube School Of Music.

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Those who waste days and months- and years- not bothering to be schooled in all of this are doing themselves and their careers a huge disservice as, eventually, musical naïveté will be spotted along with formulaic songwriting whether these are the same chord progressions or lyrics with no meaning, and how inferior versions of past classics is, well, pissing in the wind and kidding oneself.

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