Re: The Rocker’s Dilemma

My friend Zach wrote a post about a long quote from Dave Grohl the other day, and I think it is worth responding to. I want to defend Dave Grohl a little bit, which is going to require a little bit of interpreting of his words but bear with me, because I think some subtlety is being blown by and a good point is being missed. First, go read Zach’s post and come back when you’re ready to argue.

Zach doubles as an Internet/basement-based musician, equalszee. equalszee has release two albums and various other tracks to the Internet with little more than Zach teaching himself Logic Pro and BitTorrent. So, I’m pretty sympathetic to the idea that Dave Grohl’s dismissal of needing a computer or the Internet to be a musician strikes Zach as out of touch. Frankly, it is out of touch, but I think Dave (Mr. Grohl? no, fuck that) is conflating two unrelated things and is making a point in a pretty lousy way.

Dave Grohl just wants kids to enjoy the journey and not think there are shortcuts to being superstars. More to the point, there is a massive sense of entitlement with music now – you should be instantly successful, you should be on TV, you should be releasing music online that spreads around the Internet like wildfire (virality woo!) – you should win, immediately, yesterday, no seriously why haven’t you won yet?

This, to me, is what the quote is about. It is about the journey. It is about having fun and trying hard and having fun and not worrying about success. Yeah, Nirvana got lucky and massively famous because a music executive decided to push an entire ethos on a bunch of teenagers, but the quote isn’t about how to become Nirvana. The quote is about the right approach, the right mindset that you should take into making music. You shouldn’t make music to become famous and you shouldn’t go into the entire endeavor with expectations of singing on national TV in front of whoever the hell is still judging American Idol. You should grab whatever you can and have fun with it and if you like it keep doing it and if you don’t go do something that you actually like doing. Maybe you become Nirvana, maybe you don’t – but fuck, at least you are having fun.

Until you become Nirvana and hate all that that entails, I guess. Too soon?

3 thoughts on “Re: The Rocker’s Dilemma”

  1. 100% with you. Zach misses the point. The quote is not anti-democratization, it’s anti- ” get in line and be told yes or no today then you are a star or you quit.” He’s suggesting, I think, that thousands of people are auditioning for Idol etc, being told no, and moving on. Those same people, 25 years ago, a la Nirvana, would have just loved music and played and wrote and tried. Democratization=good. Preference to be told yes or no now, instead of pushing and trying and trying more = bad.

  2. My intention was to have a discussion about music and technology, and the modern model of a working band. And maybe a little side discussion about the role someone with Dave’s experience could play as mentor in a modernizing music economy. I made a mistake by framing it in terms of him being ‘wrong’ about what he’s saying. I understand his point and I actually agree with him. I just think he’s being less constructive than he could be.

  3. That is an interesting question but I don’t think this was the right quote to launch that conversation with. I’m not sure if Dave could have a beef with how you are doing things for example, Z.

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