By Hans Ebert
Visit: www.fasttrack.hk

When and how did it all become so confusing? So complicated? So difficult? When looking for what’s wrong with something often becomes more “important” than seeing what’s right about it? How “What if?” has been replaced with “Why bother?” When Okay is good enough. When there’s so much of everything, but so little of anything that matters. When so many seem to always have something to say, but so little to show for it.

Think about music. Music was made by those who played instruments. Real instruments. Instruments some had to learn to play. To others it came naturally.

Some were better at playing this music than others. Other than learning notes and chords, it was intuitively having a ‘feel’ for music and everything else that doesn’t come from push button “creativity”.

Electronic Beats have their time and place. They’re not a replacement for a Bernard Purdy or a Hal Blaine, Al Jackson, Jim Keltner or Steve Gadd.

Songs happened through imagination and inspiration. All this was usually recorded in tiny studios. Remember where Elvis made his first recordings. And before him, how the original Blues men and women had their music heard.

These roots of music are what grew up to be trees and gardens and fields of dreams. Thankfully, we can still visit these early beginnings and listen to what they grew up to be.

A few years later, came those who took the most rudimentary equipment at their disposal, experimented with these and, together with musicians, produced different walls of sounds- game changers like Phil Spector, Jerry Wexler, Joe Meek, George Martin…

Sure, they slowed tapes down, took vocals up a register and looped drums backwards etc- but these weren’t gimmicks.

These producers were taking genuine musical talent, and only when it was felt that experimentation might enhance the final product, was studio wizardry used.

Sinatra, Ella, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Aretha, Stevie Wonder etc didn’t need any “enhancing”. What one hears is what was recorded- often in one take.

Same with films. The technique nor the technology were ever the idea. The idea came from the vision and mind’s eye of filmmakers. Originals like Harold Lloyd, Chaplin, and Buster Keaton. There was then Alfred Hitchcock, DeMille, Frank Capra, John Ford, John Huston, Kurosawa, Sergio Leone and Stanley Kubrick.

These influenced and inspired the next generation of filmmakers- everyone from Polanski, Truffaut and Antonioni to Spielberg, George Lucas, Coppola, Scorsese, David Lynch and John Waters- and all the great actors and actresses who came before and those still with us.

“Technology” was Radio and television and being able to plug that guitar into an amplifier. It was never about needing to have the best to produce the best. It was about the sound that best suited the song.

Music was heard on radio. A disc jockey told you who the artists were. They were the narrators. Our guides.

The pictures that songs painted through words often meant different things to different people. Like how “I skipped the light fandango. Did cartwheels across the floor”.

“A Whiter Shade Of Pale” and the Beatles more obscure tracks like “Strawberry Fields Forever”, “Tomorrow Never Knows”, and “I Am The Walrus” more than likely meant something very different to different music fans. It didn’t matter. The music brought us together.

Music evolved organically and without anything being forced into different and restrictive little boxes. Music was music. If you liked what you heard, you automatically went with the flow. You supported the music. You became a fan. You didn’t become a purist.

Being a purist in music is not that different to being another of those followers of tedious hashtags- hashtags that have confused and created such divisiveness and anger and fear and towing the line of plastic fantastic political correctness in today’s world.

Hashtag city is where so many pseudo intellectual muppets continue to get it so very wrong. When they do, they suddenly become the silence of the lambs…until the next hashtag drops.

Who’s pulling the strings? Who’s dazzling so many with so much of everything 24/7 that’s not leading anyone anywhere?

Why have so many become part of the herd mentality?

Some of us have been so damn fortunate to have inhaled, absorbed and mentally curated the best- the best films and music and other arts from so many different eras. It’s helped us grow and enjoy a very full life.

We have dined and wined with kings and queens. And with winners and Eastside swingers. With dime store cowboys and candy floss princesses with Charlietown notes.

Things haven’t always worked out as one might have hoped, but scripts always need rewrites. Happily ever after is a hit or miss game. But to have experienced all this everything is something that lives with many of us.

Today, at least some of us are careful about taking in strays. Time has taught us that kindness is often taken for granted. There’s very little loyalty. That door seldom swings both way.

We’ve learned to let many things and people slip away. Adieu. Experience has taught us that it doesn’t take long to see through shuck and jive, hucksters and gypsies, tramps and thieves.

It wasn’t always like this. It didn’t have to be. They were much simpler times. They were more honest times.

Today?

Social media might have given everyone a voice, but it doesn’t mean listening to everything out there and inhaling the latest napalm filled conspiracy theory. It’s about being selective. It’s about remembering who and what were your influences.

I still believe in that opening chord to “A Hard Day’s Night”. The Beatles always knew how to start a musical conversation. Every album by them opened with a track that drew us in to places we didn’t want to leave.

There can’t be enough said about the Beatles- and how they changed the world.

They may not have been perfect as human beings, but, together and with Producer George Martin, they evolved, their music evolved and we grew up with them. And while growing up, we changed.

We had our own dreams to pursue. We might have stumbled along the way, but we picked ourselves up and tried. And then we tried again.

And now most of the world is in some form of lockdown. The Age Of Aquarius was long ago. It’s now The Age Of Coronavirus.

Lockdown or not, we still have the freedom to think. We have all the time in the world to create. To Do. To research. To relearn. To seek out new ways of doing things. To ready one’s self to open new doors of opportunity. How when Quinn The Eskimo gets here, everybody’s gonna jump for joy.

“It is what it is” doesn’t mean that Change is under lock and key and one is left whistling Dixie.

To paraphrase John Lennon, Change is what happens while you’re busy watching the wheels go round and round.

#life #music #change #adaptability #inspiration #creativity #music #beatles #positivity