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Sunday, November 25, 2007

influences come like waves

A quiet Sunday in Cambridge. Finished a book on changes in music, detailing how all developments through the years tie in with eachother to create new musical styles. So much for those who claim revolutions, saying 'it came out of nowhere', whether they're talking about the protest generation of the sixties, punk or house. If you want to turn something around, then you always need a starting point. Which is the inherent, very simple, logic behind my theory anyway. Bob Dylan started within the folkscene during the winter timeframe at the beginning of the sixties, but gave it his own turn. Where real folkies felt they should represent 'the people', and "stand inbetween them", Dylan felt he could do nothing more than represent himself and created distance by plugging in an electric guitar. A small step for him turned into a big step for musical mankind, as he influenced the Beatles, for instance. John Lennon remembered writing songs for the Help album in 1965:
"I started thinking about my own emotions - I don’t know when exactly it started, like “I’m a Loser” or “Hide Your Love Away” or those kind of things - instead of projecting myself into a situation I would just try to express what I felt about myself. I think it was Dylan helped me realise that - not by any discussion or anything, but just by hearing his work - I had a sort of professional songwriter’s attitude to writing pop songs; ... I’d have a separate song-writing John Lennon who wrote songs for the sort of meat market and I didn’t consider them - the lyrics or anything - to have any depth at all. They were just a joke. Then I started being me about the songs, not writing them objectively, but subjectively." And The Beatles in their turn, influenced just about any group into writing their own material, which was highly unusual before the Beatles became famous.

Dylan himself cited Smokey Robinson as a huge influence, the way Robinson could give a very new meaning to social cliches ("you better shop around" or "I second that emotion") and turn them into universal truths ("What's so good about good-bye" or "The hunter gets captured by the game").

Of the three, Robinson deserves a little more credit than he usually gets. Some have recognized this: In May 2006, Howard University conferred on Robinson the degree of Doctor of Music, honoris causa.

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