A Russ rant. I live in an area that seems to either have someone moving house or having work done, so it’s not unusual to see either a removal van or builders trucks. Yesterday when walking home I saw a huge and impressive removal truck, the kind you can fit the entire house, bricks and mortar into, it was seriously impressive.
On the side it had livery which included in big bold letters “International Mover of the Year 2003’.
Impressive I thought at first glance, but then I thought to myself, where are the rest of the stickers? The ones for 2004, 2005 and all the way to 2013. Was 2003 the last time this company did some something award winning? Did they think that once they had this award (now 10 years old) they could live on the reputation?
To be honest I don’t care about 2003, I care about 2013 and you should too.
This industry is full of musicians, producers, engineers, studios, manufacturers and developers that trot out their moment of glory, which can in many cases be worthy of recognition, but unless they develop further they are in danger of becoming meaningless and irrelevant - we all are.
We’ve recently been running nostalgic pictures of old gear - in the day some of these brands owned recording, now they are simply a ‘yep I remember that brand’, sometimes it can be hard to recollect the brand at all.
We recently lost Mike Shipley, if you look at his early career working with Queen and the Sex Pistols he could have dined out on those stories for the rest of his life. Instead Mike decided to keep working, keep making great records, continuing to develop his already awesome skills. He didn’t forget his past achievements, but he didn’t dwell on them either, Mike knew that yesterday was good but tomorrow should be even better.
I do a lot of artist relations work so I get to see a lot of emails from artists seeking support from brands. In some cases I see the name and think ‘wow’, in other cases I get 2 pages of explanation about what they used to do and who they used to work with. Sometimes I have to resort to Google and Wikipedia to figure out who they are and then I see that the last thing they did stretches back decades.
This industry is littered with people who had one great moment, some would say that’s the nature of the beast, that may well be the case when it comes to fame, but it’s not the case when it comes to excellence - that should never end. Fame is a measure of recognition, excellence is a measure of skill, determination and hard work. Again, take someone like my buddy Mick Glossop (Frank Zappa, Van Morrison, Tangerine Dream and many others) just two of those names could buy you a pipe and slippers, but Mick continues to work on great recordings, he also continues to read and learn and understand how gear works, he continues to ask questions to stay relevant and to seek excellence.
We lost George Duke this week, he had a long career as a musician and producer, but he kept going until the very end, he never rested, it wasn’t about fame for George - it was being the best right until the very end.
I’ve done some good stuff in my life, but if I resign myself to thinking that it’s all in my past then I’m an idiot - that hands me over to fate and chance, as Coleman Cox wrote “I am a great believer in luck; the harder I work the more of it I seem to have.”
2003 who wants that? Certainly not me, I’m hoping my best work (famous or not) is yet to come! Discuss.