My friend Teresa recently shared an article with me by John Taylor, the bassist for Duran Duran, titled “Is the Internet Stifling New Music?“. It’s a pretty well-written article, and it’s brief, but the quick version is how Taylor’s concerned that today’s teenagers and younger music consumers aren’t interested in new music as they’ve got ready access to music from all eras.
I don’t think I agree with him. I’m not sure if it’s a bad thing that people have (hyperbole alert) the entirety of recorded music at their fingertips. While folks might not necessarily be smacked in the face by current bands (though I’m not sure if I think that’s true either; in a recent interview with DEVO, Mark Mothersbaugh points out that while record sales are down, concert sales haven’t suffered — and while shows used to be cheaper than the album, now they’re more expensive — and most of these concerts are being put on by new acts), I don’t think there’s anything wrong with drawing inspiration from the past, either.
To use the example of his son being into Cole Porter and 20s stuff — I think the thing Taylor’s forgetting is that inspiration strikes as a combination of sources plus new stuff. So, I think if his son is smacked in the face by, say, the Carter Family, I don’t think that his kid’s band is going to be a Carter Family clone, anymore than, to use Taylor’s own youthful obsession, Duran Duran’s not a Roxy Music clone. The difference is, Taylor the Younger would just be using a different starting palette than a lot of contemporary music — instead of guitars and synthesizers and a 4/4 time signature, he might be more drawn to harmony vocals, banjos, fiddles and waltz time. And I think that’s OK (and kinda cool). And, well, too, nothing happens in a vacuum, so maybe the Taylor Tots (or whatever non-awful name they might choose) might be a band that equally draws from, say, the Carter Family, Run-DMC and Muse.
And, no, I don’t know how that’d work either. But it would probably be pretty awesome.