My Morning Jacket & Creativity

August 5, 2012

Tonight, looking for a particular song in Youtube I bumped into My Morning Jacket’s Bermuda Highway. I was so impressed by the singer’s voice that I watched the video and listened to the track several times. What an amazing voice! It was Jim James’ remarkably powerful, yet intimately welcoming voice. My Morning Jacket has been a rising star in music since the band’s inception in 1998. They are a four-piece band from Louisville, KY, built solidly around the vocal and songwriting talent of group leader Jim James. “Their sound is lonesome, haunting, almost classic country at times, and that voice — James’ voice shares the same section of that old country highway with the familiar sounds of Neil Young, yet sounds right at home here in the world of independent American pop music, alongside contemporary singers like the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne and Galaxie 500’s Dean Wareham. Like Galaxie 500, My Morning Jacket weaves songs and sounds together perfectly — underneath the big open sky filled with bright stars of course — never allowing the heavy reverb (and the reverb is definitely heavy) to subtract anything from the visual lyrics, or from the simple beauty of the songs themselves.”

My Morning Jacket’s musical talents and the creativity they bring into our lives are in sharp contrast with the current state of the record industry. From a business perspective it’s both painful and exciting. Painful because it’s only half of what it used to be ten years ago. Exciting because whoever makes it out of this into whatever is next will be on top. From a creative perspective, it’s sad. Pop radio has been reduced to the equivalent of processed fast food. It’s all the same, just different faces on the package. There’s great music being made, but it’s not on the radio, and much of it is not selling the types of records it used to. In many ways it has to do with record companies not making as much money as they used to. Having money gave them the freedom to sign and develop so many more acts. Record companies could be “chefs” back them. Taking the time to prepare and cook dishes that stretched consumers palettes. Now because that risk is so great, they just serve fast food to make a profit and have joined in with the fashion industry to sell it dressed in fancy rags. Obviously, it is unhealthy artistically for the consumer. That mentality also bleeds down to creatives. They are striving creatively, but the most successful acts they’re trying to emulate are just fructose corn syrup. That’s why we freak the hell out when someone like Ryan Adams, Jack White, Adele or Academy Award-winning singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham come along. They are so rare these days. I watched talented people release records they can’t even get their mother to buy. Then I see much less talented people sell millions. But being successful doesn’t mean being the most talented. We are going to be talking about and discussing these troubling issues and the alternatives we may have.

Quote: Caleb Morairty

My Morning Jacket – Bermuda Highway

My Morning Jacket – Outta My System

Music video by My Morning Jacket performing Outta My System. (C) 2012 ATO Records, LLC. All Rights Reserved.