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> Actors Get Better, What About Musicians?
Ben Higgins
post Sep 19 2015, 01:11 PM
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We've all heard or seen critics, journalists and fans remark about how many actors get better as they age and it's something we can probably all agree on that definitely does happen. Many actors don't really start getting recognition until middle age and beyond and many still start getting awards in later life.

Musicians, on the other hand, seem to be more hit and miss. They don't seem to have the mid or late career moments of excellence that occurs in the film world. Sure, Iron Maiden have just put out an album that many concur is their best since the late 80's but nearly every band's fan base maintains that the best stuff is in the earlier years.

So, is it about ability?

Both actors and musicians continue to learn and grow as they get older. That means both groups have a wealth of experience to put into their art. The more you see of life, the more you can give to expressing it. Who can deny that Mickey Rourke or Robert Downey Jr are better now than they've ever been? What about musicians? The old songs get so ingrained in their DNA that their fingers go to the notes like an old friend, their stage performances are as natural as breathing. The art of recording and stagecraft is a lifetime's journey of experience.

So no, I don't think it's a question of ability. Generally, if one keeps up their interest in their art then they only get more experienced and natural at it.

So, why can actors get hit after hit well into old age and musicians are stuck with "play the old songs"?

It suggests it's about the material. Actors work with the movies they get. Actors generally don't gave to write their own masterpieces. (unless they choose to; Mel Gibson with Braveheart etc) Actors don't have to write an album every so often. The inspiration and creativity side of the movies can come from anywhere. As long as there's a great script, a middle or old aged actor can have a hit on their hands.

For musicians, they can still have the chops but if the creative side of things isn't as happening as it once was then typically it's not going to have the same sort of effect. Exploring and changing styles and sounds over the years may also have a negative impact on their overall reception. So, both actors and musicians can get better over the years and are both reliant on having material that resonates with an audience. For the actor, that's usually someone else's job but for the musician, it's normally theirs unless they work with outside songwriters.

Working with songwriters and producers who are "in" is a way that musicians can have a similar late renaissance (see Cher) if they get the right track.

But for musicians who are not in popular selling genres, it's all about using their own creative energy. What do you think?


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klasaine
post Sep 19 2015, 07:08 PM
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Good question. And one I've never really thought about before.

Off the top of my head I'd say that most pop and rock musicians don't join other bands, do lots of outside recording sessions or produce other artist's records. Of course there are exceptions and those folks seem to age fine in this biz (Robert Plant, Steve Vai and Jeff Beck come to mind).

As you mentioned, actors, most of the time, are not writing their own scripts. They are at the mercy of a script, a director, a producer and a studio. Overall - it makes them either rise to the occasion ... or not.

I feel that most of the time for a musician to truly grow and also be excepted they have to keep pushing the envelope. Most musicians are not great auteurs. They're also not great at self motivation (I know I'm not). They need a push from an outside influence i.e., a new project. Rock and pop doesn't really really foster that so much.

*Though the market is small and certainly out of the public eye, jazz, classical and studio musicians usually garner more recognition and more support as they age. Those 3 sets of players are constantly working on different material as well as recording and gigging with other bands and projects. Country and blues musicians to some extent too. For these musicians it's not a quick burn up top but they usually end up having 'careers'

**The nature of rock and pop is all about youth. You know, don't trust anyone over 30 and all that rubbish. That's a component of the aesthetic.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Sep 19 2015, 07:16 PM


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fzalfa
post Sep 19 2015, 07:11 PM
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not an easy question, some are better when older, some other are craps..

in general case they tend to be better, i think.
i have the example of two guitarists, Slash and dave mustaine, they get better, they change their way to play a bit (less for slash) but i think they are overall better than before.

this is my point of view of course.

Laurent

ps: it's applicable to myself, i'm better while time is passing.... but i do not have other choices, i cannot be worse

This post has been edited by fzalfa: Sep 19 2015, 07:14 PM


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Ben Higgins
post Sep 19 2015, 08:21 PM
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QUOTE (klasaine @ Sep 19 2015, 06:08 PM) *
Good question. And one I've never really thought about before.

Off the top of my head I'd say that most pop and rock musicians don't join other bands, do lots of outside recording sessions or produce other artist's records. Of course there are exceptions and those folks seem to age fine in this biz (Robert Plant, Steve Vai and Jeff Beck come to mind).

As you mentioned, actors, most of the time, are not writing their own scripts. They are at the mercy of a script, a director, a producer and a studio. Overall - it makes them either rise to the occasion ... or not.

I feel that most of the time for a musician to truly grow and also be excepted they have to keep pushing the envelope. Most musicians are not great auteurs. They're also not great at self motivation (I know I'm not). They need a push from an outside influence i.e., a new project. Rock and pop doesn't really really foster that so much.

*Though the market is small and certainly out of the public eye, jazz, classical and studio musicians usually garner more recognition and more support as they age. Those 3 sets of players are constantly working on different material as well as recording and gigging with other bands and projects. Country and blues musicians to some extent too. For these musicians it's not a quick burn up top but they usually end up having 'careers'

**The nature of rock and pop is all about youth. You know, don't trust anyone over 30 and all that rubbish. That's a component of the aesthetic.


Great comments and I agree with you... I nearly mentioned Beck as well but thought I'd wait for someone else to point him out wink.gif

That outside influence and input - yep, I do agree. There needs to be something to create a purpose. An actor can get behind an idea or a script whereas a muso has to be their own idea bringer, script writer, director etc.. unless they're working with outside players.


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klasaine
post Sep 20 2015, 02:48 AM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Sep 19 2015, 12:21 PM) *
An actor can get behind an idea or a script whereas a muso has to be their own idea bringer, script writer, director etc.. unless they're working with outside players.


Ah, but that's what I mean when I mention the difference between the rock/pop world and 'the rest of music'.
The rockers who remain relevant and evolve, and I'm not talking about reunions or the Rolling Stones or the endless 'final' tours, are the ones who do other projects with other people or other bands. It's not the main nature of rock to do that. In fact it's probably the antithesis of 'rock'. But in all other areas of music it's de rigueur to work with other people. You get exposed to so much ... and in turn you expose others to your thing. In other words - networking.

Long after the rock stars of whatever 'band' are forgotten - the horn section, the background singers, the auxiliary keyboard or percussion player will be doing other gigs with other bands (as well as their own maybe?) ... possibly well into their 70s.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Sep 20 2015, 06:54 AM


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