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Why Indie is Better

You know how most bands or artists have an amazing debut album but then they sort of, well, go to pot? They burst onto the scene with this fresh new sound that everyone loves, with soul-piercing lyrics and head-bopping beats, and then every album after that pales in comparison. You hang on the edge of your seat, waiting for the release of their next album in the hopes and expectations that it will be as good as the first. But then it comes out and falls flat. Just like the next one, and the one after that. I could cite examples for days. Hootie and the Blowfish is just one of many, many examples. You ever wonder why that is? I have. And I know the answer.

The music is always the best when the artists are independent, when they’re making music for the love of making music. Before the corporate business aspect comes into play. Before their music is being dictated by stuffy old white guys in suits and ties who think they know what the people want to hear. It becomes all about what will sell. Not what will touch the listener. That’s when it all goes to shit. The lyrics, the music, the beat, everything. Gone is the breath of fresh air from the band that was doing what they loved, which is something easily picked up on by the listener. That’s right. We can tell when a band is in it for the love of what they do and when they’re just doing it for the money. And ironically, the time they start doing it for the money is just about the time the money dries up, because we don’t want to hear yet another sellout band. We want the band that grabbed our interest back in the beginning, the band that sunk their musical claws into us and wouldn’t let go.

The same can be said about indie films. And yes, independent authors.

When you’re an indie, you don’t have to answer to anybody. You can make whatever song or movie or book you want. You can tell your story your way, the way it was meant to be told. Indies are in it for the love of what they do. They’re not in it for the money, because there usually isn’t any money. It’s only later, when corporations get involved and the artists have to create within guidelines set by the guys in suits that it loses its charm. That’s when people lose interest. When the craft becomes a business and the art becomes a product.

Weeping for Prince

It’s inevitable. In the wake of a famous musician’s death, they instantly become number one. This is true of both those who’ve been in the spotlight throughout their career, riding high on their fame and glory, and those whose shine has somewhat dulled. No matter where they are in their career, be it a high or a low, their death thrusts them to the top. Take Michael Jackson, for example. The molestation allegations had nearly devastated his career and reputation, yet the moment news of his death broke, he was number one again. His songs topped the charts, played on all the radio stations, and his CDs flew off the shelves.

2016 has thus far claimed the lives of far too many celebrities. The latest being Percy Sledge and Prince. For some reason, Percy Sledge’s death hasn’t garnered the same attention as that of Prince. But Prince’s death…boy, it has certainly hit the world right in the feels.

As is usually the case, the outpouring of grief among fans of Prince is amazing. People are crying in the streets. They’re writing tributes and painting pictures. In any way they can, people are showing their support and their grief over the loss of one of the most talented musicians to ever have lived.

And then, on the other side of the aisle are people asking why. Why do people care so much when musicians die? Why do people grieve so hard over a person they’ve never met? I have the answer to those questions.

Anyone who has a heart and soul knows how important music is. Every moment of our lives is tied in some way to a song. Drive down the road on any given day with the radio on, and nearly every song will bring to mind a memory, a recall of days gone by. Whether it be happy or sad, good or bad, songs make us remember. They make us feel. They were there when no one else was. A song was playing when you had your first kiss. When you had sex for the first time. When you endured your first heartbreak. When you were riding high in your youth. When you got married. When your child was little. When your parent passed. And no matter how long you live, how many songs are written in your lifetime, hearing that song will always transport you back in time and put you there again. Back with your first love. Back with your parent. Back with your baby. Back when you were young.

Not only are songs time machines, they are also personal. One song will mean something different to everyone. The lyrics touching us each on a different and personal level. We find meaning in the words depending on our situation at the time. This alone makes music magic. Musicians magicians.

To lose the person who gave us so much, the one who gifted us with the magic, is heartbreaking. We would have to be soulless to not weep at the passing of the time lords who gave us those eternal time warps, the ability to return to former days and relive our lives in three-minute snippets.

And maybe, just maybe, another reason it hurts so much to lose someone of such a caliber is because it reminds us all that none of us are immortal. If someone as great as Prince, someone dripping with so much talent, can succumb to death, then what chance do the rest of us have?

RIP, Prince

RIP, Percy Sledge