Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Narcissearching and My "Hit"

I love Pat Benatar. I think she's a great singer and all-around musician, cranking out some of the most memorable tunes of the 80's during her big run, and continuing with great music into the 21st century. It drives me crazy, though, that she no longer cares for Hit Me With Your Best Shot, and needs really special circumstances in order to perform it live. Because, y''s a great song! Catchy melody, very singable words...what's not to like? She claims that she's "moved beyond it" now, and even the last time I saw her live, and she DID do the song, she told the audience "You'll have to sing one of the lines for me, I just can't do it anymore." (Meaning we all sang along to "Before I put another notch in my lipstick case/you better make sure you put me in my place!"...and I mean, she QUIT at that point. The whole band, everything...just the audience screamed the line, and then the band came back in at the chorus.)

Same thing with Cheap Trick and The Flame. That song is Trick's ONLY #1 record, and yet it's a rare occurrence for them to perform it anymore. That one I can understand maybe a little better: the didn't write the tune. (To Benatar's credit, she didn't write Best Shot, either.) Still, a great song, very VERY catchy melody, and I think it does real credit to Robin's voice.

Last example: one of my former composition teachers, who we'll call Professor X (he could also read minds, but that's another post...), told me that every time he goes to a conference he's inundated by vocal teachers who know him from a choir piece he wrote maybe 30-40 years ago. Professor X was quite proud of the tune at the time, but he's moved on since then and is humorously irked to find that his fame sort of centers around this one tune, at least to the large contingent of vocal people out there in the music world.

So...this all relates to my "hit" and the need to narcissearch. (Or, "vanity-Google," if you prefer.) It's fairly common for musicians to look themselves up online: performers can read reviews of themselves this way, and composers will unearth performances of their works they hadn't been aware of. I do this regularly as a way to keep my curriculm vita updated. I have this tune I wrote, which is sort of being performed all over the world. I mean, I've had performances in Singapore, Thailand, Canda...even one coming up in Grenada. This, in addition to tons of performances in the U.S. Which, I mean, is GREAT! Far be it for me to look down on the tune for being popular. It's just...well, I wrote it nearly 10 years ago, and while I remain proud of it, I rather feel like I've "moved on," and that given the chance to RE-write the tune today, I could make it much better. Or, I'd simply write something else, of greater depth and/or complexity. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I finally understand something of what those other folks I mentioned feel about the tunes they're no longer quite so thrilled with. Am I glad people are doing this tune? Absolutely! Am I glad that it's popular, and that it seems to resonate with both performers and audiences? Very much's quite humbling, actually. Do I secretly hope that, in performing THIS tune, performers will be inclined to check out the OTHER stuff I've been doing, and then perform THOSE pieces? Well...yeah. Because I've got LOTS of other stuff out there that is of, shall we say, meatier quality than my "hit."


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