A Whole Lotta Years, A Whole Lotta Music
Posted May 8, 2007 - by Alan Johns
Howdy Country friends,
Seldom does a song come along which stands head and shoulder above
the rest. From recycled gibberish to sound-alike wannabees, our so-
called popular music is fast becoming a morass of heterogenous muck.
Did I say becoming? I put the blame squarely upon Menudo, Ed
McMahon's "Star Search," and MTV's after-school hip-hop for dummies.
[Do I dare include "American Idol?] Today's industry has become a
stable of self-infatuated posers. "Industry" is as accurate a term
as you could hope for. It suggests machinery and a product which is
uniform and prettily-packaged, but often lacking real substance. Our
music has become a culture of convenience: go to the store and pick
up what the studios have decided you will buy. Consumer choice is
relegated mainly to the end product, but almost never do consumers
decide what is worthy of being published in the first place. What
makes a #1 album these days? That is determined almost solely by the
number of copies the retail stores commit to buy - NOT the end
customer! We the people have become the butt of the music studio's
biggest joke: We really WILL buy anything they are in the mood to
Let's go back in time to the 1950's, when rock and roll was in its
infancy. Even the founders of rock found it difficult to clearly
define what rock and roll was. The style was new, exciting, and in a
constant state of change. In retrospect, we now acknowledge some
general defining attributes: a beat, a rhythm, unbounded enthusiasm,
and something which was determined by and belonged to the youth of
the day. It was the era of the "make it or break it" disk jockeys.
The teens (the consumers) had the final word on what was heard and
what was worthy of pressing into a few million copies. Then came
payola ... but that's another story for another day.
Well, for listeners of distinction, I have a treat for you. Imagine
if you will, an early rock'n'roller who briefly pings the charts,
records a couple of unreleased tunes backed by another rocker named
Buddy Holly, then mysteriously disappears for the next 40-something
years. During those years this music man is busy growing songs in
his home studio. ["Eddie and the Cruisers" comes to mind doesn't it?]
The story is real, and the man's name is Jerry Engler. Maybe you've
never heard of him. I didn't until very recently. For a fact, I only
bought his album because I collect 50's era rock and two previously
unreleased tracks with Buddy Holly playing back-up were included. To
my great delight, the entire album is something really special. The
tunes say a lot about their creator: Jerry cultivated his talent.
Musical growth is very much in evidence. Don't let that fool you...
the early stuff is great too. He doesn't stick exclusively to a
format, although the better part of the songs lean towards country.
Good music is like that - it can be arranged for virtually any style
or instrumentation. His music respectfully pays homage to the
greatest musical influences of the past while remaining totally his
own. Listening to his music, one easily imagines the shades of the
great ones were in the same room jamming as he composed some very
remarkable selections. There is great songwriting here.
If it has been awhile since you bought music because you feel that
99.9% of it sucks, be a champ and spend some spinach on the black
horse. Your rider will come in first, and you'll grow a third arm
with which to pat your own back. Exert your independence; buy
More info on the artist, cd, and sound samples by clicking this link:
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