Sunday, September 14, 2014

From the archives (i.e., piles of newspaper clippings on my dusty studio-apartment floor) ...

Terje, you might find this interesting. It comes from Miriam Di Nunzio's interview with veteran music producer David Foster, published in the Chicago Sun-Times on October 16, 2009.

Q: Is it getting harder for you to make albums today?

DF: I really love the music of today. I love Beyonce, Rihanna, producers like Tricky Stewart, Kanye, Jay-Z, Sean Kingston. I love those records but I have no clue how to make these records; suddenly, you're 60 trying to think like you're a 16-year-old. I know my place. People who complain about the music business as they get older and say they "had to leave it" are full of it. The business leaves them. Nobody leaves the business. I'm still getting [excited] musically, even more so now that I don't have the pressure of radio. Now I just have to make albums.


  1. Thanks for thinking about me! I just hope he plays Bill Evans, Beethoven and Sly & the Family Stone when he's alone. Everyone who's met him says he's a musical genius, for god's sake.

    And I think his comment about complaining musicians is a straw man fallacy – almost every interview I've read that touches on the subject find people complaining about the music business leaving them.

    1. Good point. It reminds me of something Sydney Pollack said in a book by Helen de Winter called "'What I Really Want to Do Is Produce ...': Top Producers Talk Movies & Money," published in 2006:

      "When I was a young director and I would meet great older directors, they were all depressed about what had happened to the movie business. And secretly I felt bad for them, because I kept saying to myself, 'I guess that's what happens when you get old — you lose touch and you think it was always better in your day.' So I have always been on guard about not wanting to get that way."

      But Pollack then says "on the other hand" and makes the claim that the true golden age of Hollywood was 1965 to '80 because so many serious films were being made during that time, before the "fast-food" mentality of huge opening weekends and comic-book source material took over.

      I think that even if you don't lose touch as you get older, no matter what industry you're in, there's a point when you suddenly look around the room and say, "Where am I? And how did I get here?"

  2. I think I was born with that feeling, that question, in the back of my mind.

    Maybe that's what Paul Newman did before letting Robert Wise accept the Academy Award on his behalf for "The Color of Money" in 1987? When asked why he wasn't there, he said it was like "chasing a beautiful woman for 80 years. Finally, she relents and you say, 'I'm terribly sorry. I'm tired.'"

    (Throw a Pollack, catch a Newman!)

    But I don't think things change nearly as much as people would like to think as old age creeps up on them. Sure, Pollack is right that the 1970s was a good time for serious movies, but the decade was still dominated by big budget disaster movies, Burt Reynolds comedies and King Kongs, frustratring those craving authenticity or intellectual challenges. And surely serious films in the mainstream and/or with huge budgets have always been a rarity?

    I think age is a convenient argument that people sometimes use about themselves and others, a construction, to describe processes that are, in fact, far more complex.

    Why does a guy in his late 60s hate Facebook? Because he's old? Of course not. He may hate computers. He may be unsocial. So is that because he's old? No. He always had a dislike for new technology. He hated when Dylan went electric. He hated the new fax machine in his office in 1979. He's insecure about the written word because he's dyslexic. He's unsocial because he's your average guy. Or because he's Norwegian.

    People may claim that I'm complaining about auto-tuning, cheesy laptop-productions and simplistic chord progressions because I'm in my 40s and too old to get popular music, ignoring the fact that I enjoy well-produced EDM with moderate vocal tuning and that there are similar, good reasons why I don't like teeny-bop pop from the 1960's, Bay City Rollers or Stock, Aitken & Waterman productions that has nothing to do with my age.

    And, you know, when I say that 97% of the music worth listening to was made before 2000, it's a simple reflection of the fact that there are decades, nay, centuries of music to choose from, and not the fond memories of my youth in post-1800 Vienna talking.

    On the other hand one might say that my eclectic good tastes and justified disdain for crappy beats are the fruit of the September of my Years, and that the sum of the experiences of my Facebook-hater and myself, which will eventually separate both of us from modern society, is what we actually call aging, and that kind of kills my whole argument that age is nothing but a construction.

    I a wordmonger? Not I, by my faith.

  3. Your point about '70s disaster movies and Burt Reynolds comedies reminds me that Esquire's former film critic, Tom Carson, said that even though the decade is remembered as being populated by filmmakers, studio executives, and audiences alike who championed small, serious movies, people like him were lined up to see "Mean Streets" in '73 partly because they knew it might be gone in a week when the local theater decided to replace it with something more popular, like "The Exorcist."

    I think it was easier, though, to get studios to invest in those serious movies 40 years ago, before foreign box office and big opening weekends were a top priority, and before teenage boys were thought to be the main drivers of ticket sales on those opening weekends. Big movies also didn't cost $200 million to produce and another $150 million to market back then, but I'm not sure how those numbers ballooned like that in the first place. Also, when an expensive war movie like "A Bridge Too Far" was greenlit, the producers hired Richard Attenborough to direct it, not the '70s equivalent of Michael Bay.

    Are you sure you don't have fond memories of your youth in 19th-century Vienna, Terje? I'm okay with you being a vampire. The ladies loved Scandinavian bloodsucker Alexander SkarsgÄrd on "True Blood," after all.