Soundtrack to this post: “Two of Us” by the Beatles, from Let It Be.
“Friendship,” is the theme of the week here in the Jungle, and it is one that is of vital importance to music. Now I’m not an artistic expert, a savant, or a seasoned genius, but I’m of the mind that one should never do something creative entirely alone. Art is the rawest form of communication, and truly the most human form of expression. In fact, I’d say it is human nature to gravitate toward creating art. That being said, the desire to be loved or to be surrounded by those who love you is also human nature. If we’re breaking this down like a logical argument, then it seems you should definitely have a trusted pack of buddies by your side while crafting some tunes.
Music is, after all, a medium made to be experienced by many people simultaneously. Speakers pump waves through the air that are seldom only heard by one person. As a collective experience, music connects us in a way that not many things can, because for that brief period of time in the duration of a song, every listener is equal and unified as they are all instantaneous interpreters of those sounds. Naturally then, more than one person should be responsible for the birth of this experience, in order to properly convey a message.
This seems to be universally understood in today’s music world. However, there are varying extremes of how many friends it takes to piece together a song. Some choose to be solo artists who merely consult a handful of others to make sure their latest “hit” isn’t only a “hit” in their eyes. Others like to work in teams, but keep it to a bare minimum. Take Akron, Ohio’s phenomenal raw-nasty blues duo the Black Keys for example:
There’s some great insights into both their creative process and their friendship in that video. I had the privilege of catching the Keys live at Lollapalooza 2007, and they were virtually the loudest act there. The loudest act and the smallest act? Wild, I know. Anyway, there’s also a trend—in indie music especially, having adopted mentalities from the 60’s and 70’s—of having more people than ever lending their artistic interpretations to the creation of a song. Bands such as the Polyphonic Spree and I’m From Barcelona have upwards of twenty members. Is this a fantastic way to make sure you’ll never make bad music because at least one of those twenty would catch it? Or is it just plain nuts? This unusually crowded stage approach seems to be the former for the critically acclaimed Broken Social Scene:
Regardless of how many “friends” a musician or group of musicians utilize, it seems that the true deciding factor of how the well music progresses as it passes through each person’s artistic filter is the honest strength of those friendships. Though some have found they can hold their own by themselves, alone in a room making great music, truly great art can be achieved wonderfully through collaboration of true friends, and I believe it shows in a group/artist’s sound when this relationship is present.
Also: I’ve decided not to post just a brief clip on this post for fear of not doing it justice, but if you want to see an incredible instance of the kind of power a friendship can have on music, pop in the DVD Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds Live at Radio City, turn to the special features and watch the “So Damn Lucky” documentary.