I was asked the other day to name the three most influential bands of the generation. Well, I say I was asked, it was an open question which I read and decided to respond to. The question opened up a few other questions and thought processes. Firstly what did the questioner mean by “the generation” I kind of assumed that he was younger than me and might probably be my daughter’s age so was he asking for his generation or mine? After some clarification we decided on it meaning the generation of whoever is answering. Through clarifying though there seemed to be a sudden expectation that I was going to be really knowledgeable on the subject and would provide groundbreaking answers that would be new and exciting to this small group. As is my usual way, I was quick to downplay my knowledge and tried to assume a novice approach. After a couple of minutes thought I came up with the following;
The question asks for “most influential” which means those bands which have influenced most other bands. This kind of restricts it to more established bands which newer bands would have been listening to as they grew up. Then you end up with the obvious answers like beatles, stones etc as ultimately they influenced the world scene and inspired the bands that inspired the bands. So in order to not go down that route I will suggest three band/artists that I found either inspirational or de facto in their genre if not defining it.
1. Lead Belly – The original blues man – I will bet that his music (or those of his close peers) influenced the beginnings of jazz and rock music and so most of what we listen to today. It is blues in its rawest form.
2. The Who – the loudest band of their generation that took the youth attitude and shouted it to the world. Also, until they played that intro nobody took Synthesisers as a serious musical instrument.
3. James Brown – anyone considered the godfather of soul has got to be up there as influential and you can’t but want to get involved when he plays. Michael Jackson watched him as a boy to perfect his own stage act.
Now a second respondent had mentioned ‘Backstreet Boys’ as they had been previously mentioned in the original post as not qualifying. This respondent questioned this by saying for her generation they were very influential in that for a time their opinions or fashion choices had a massive impact on related industries and those following them.
This was absolutely true, ‘influential’ is a broad word which if undefined can cross many categories. Some musicians might have a political or social element and thus influence bigger changes in the wider world outside of the music industry itself. David Bowie for instance changed many ideas on gender image, The Sex Pistols introduced a backlash of against normal accepted society, Bob Geldof used music (along with others) to raise awareness and money in order to help famine victims in the third world. All of these are massively influential aspects so affects how we approach the question from the start.
I responded in agreement of this alternate view on what ‘influential’ meant and (as the second respondent had mentioned they weren’t as learned as me) followed it with some comment about not being an expert and had just thrown my suggestion out there after a few minutes thought. This sparked my third point on this subject and the main reason for this post.
She said something along the lines of that if that was the answer I came up with after just a couple of minutes thought that I was much more of an expert on this than I was giving myself credit for.
This threw me somewhat. I don’t usually step up to the plate as knowledgable about anything and try to let someone else take the lead. I pretend sometimes to be less knowledgeable or rather I assume I’m not the most knowledgeable or that maybe what I am thinking is not right. Yet on re-reading what I had said here and the conversation I was having it suddenly became apparent to myself that maybe she was right. It made me stop and re-assess myself, do I have more to offer than I pretend? I don’t see myself as a leader but often I feel like I am expected to do so and I push back on it. Why do I do that?Maybe it’s time I poked my head out there and be counted(?) I don’t want to be arrogant though, I am not THE expert on all things, I’m not THE expert on the things I know something about but maybe I could share a bit more of what I know and not be scared to offer help and knowledge.
This blogging experience is really changing the way I think about myself. The one sidedness of it where you are ‘talking’ to an anonymous nobody that offers little in the way of feedback (at least not in the synchronous conversational way) makes you have the conversation with yourself. It reminds me of an exercise I did a few years ago where a partner asks you the same question over and over again no matter how you answer and your answers become more and more deep as you repeatedly try to answer. Here when you read what you are about to post it makes you rethink and revise and each time you are thinking what will whoever is reading this think and can I answer that now before I post.