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Friday, December 05, 2014

The best pop records are essentially stupid

"Neil hires some of the best musicians in the world and has 'em play as stupid as they possibly can."
That's the late Nashville drummer Kenny Buttrey on Neil Young in Shakey: Neil Young's Biography by Jimmy McDonough.

When Sting first played "Every Breath You Take" for Stewart Copeland the drummer couldn't believe that he wanted him to play anything quite so simplistic. That's why his playing on the record has the exact "I can do this in my sleep" feeling that makes it work.

Similarly Hugh Cornwell told me that Jean Jaques Burnel refused to play on The Stranglers "Golden Brown" because he thought it was just too stupid. (Didn't prevent him taking 25% of the publishing.)

Musicians are naturally drawn to complexity. Humans, on the other hand, like things simple, which is another reason why they always prefer the musicians' earlier records to their later ones.