Retirement Home: Bob Lefsetz Covers Dylan
Don’t recognize the name or face? Most outside of the music industry wouldn’t, so don’t feel bad. Who is he? Big enough to get his own Wikipedia entry, “he is the author of the email newsletter and blog, the Lefsetz Letter. Based in Santa Monica, California, Lefsetz worked previously as an entertainment business attorney”, and also as an executive with the American division of Sanctuary Records and as a consultant . “Lefsetz has received criticism from industry peers as someone who “furthers himself by tearing others down”.
Oh please, let me say that again….he “furthers himself by tearing others down”. Is that somehow not a respectful way to earn one’s living anymore? Critics do it, politicians do it, commentators do it, you do it, I do it. I mean, you and I are usually nice about it and all, but still…we all have opinions and sometimes things come out a little harsh. Sometimes its for humor, sometimes it’s because we’re passionate. Sometimes we don’t mean to tear people down but if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck…need I say more?
So here comes the new Bob Dylan album. Got it right here, have only listened to two tracks. Had zero plans to listen anymore today, nor to write about it. But Lefsetz…he sends out an email this afternoon. Classic Lefsetz. I shall quote:
“Is this a joke?
Athletes retire, their bodies give out and they can no longer compete at a world class level. If you can’t dance, they kick you out of the ballet company, if you can’t sing, maybe you should stop performing?
What I hate here is no one will speak the truth. “Tempest” has gotten glowing reviews. And I’m not deep into it enough to judge the material, although I’m awaiting the “New York Times” article wherein it’s revealed he stole the lyrics, hell, if they can bust Jonah Lehrer, they can bust anybody. But one thing’s for sure, the vocals are horrible. So bad, they sound like your grandpa just woke up and is clearing his throat. A grandpa who sounds like Frankie Pentangeli in “Godfather II.”
I’m a huge Dylan fan.”
Now…nothing really there to scream about. Just another critic in the bunch. But there is more:
“If Dylan didn’t have all those years ago hits, he wouldn’t even be playing clubs. He’d be playing Holiday Inns. And no newspaper would review his material. People would laugh.
But ain’t that America, wherein everybody knows the truth but no one can say it.
As for writing a song about the Titanic… Imagine Kanye doing this. Or even Don Henley. They’d be excoriated.
Give me a break.”
Now he is winding up for his standard music industry rant…it’s another greatest hit from the Lefestz’ vaults:
“Has-beens and alta kacher never-beens just can’t believe that the era has changed, that the past no longer rules. They make albums in an era of singles. They hype them upon release not knowing it’s about longevity as opposed to a singular impression. Hell, that’s what Spotify is all about, you get paid when people continue to listen to your music, not when someone buys it. How many albums have you purchased and played once or barely more? The company got just as much money from you as they did when you bought an album and played it ad infinitum. Is this the paradigm we want to prop up?
I’ve got no problem with Dylan (and Cat Power) making albums. But I do have a huge problem with mainstream media fueled by ancient record companies and aged publicity people going on and on about stuff that is marginal and most people don’t care a whit about.”
And the grand finale:
“Once upon a time, Bob Dylan was subversive. Now he’s just an old man who doesn’t know what to do with himself but go on tour. Maybe he should stay home and hang with his grandchildren, write about that, it’d be more interesting than any music he makes.”
Now, all that aside, my post today isn’t about neither dude. It has to do with retirement. And the question…do musicians EVER retire? I mean, REALLY stop playing, making records, performing at the Ramada Inn in Omaha? EVER?
Googled it and didn’t get all that much back. Here’s who I know who has stopped making music:
1. Syd Barrett/Pink Floyd
2. John Deacon/Queen
3. Phil Collins
4. Phil Spector and Charles Manson….incarcerated
5. hundreds of African-American jazz musicians
6. Johnny Ramone
7. David Bowie
8. Captain Beefheart
9. Noddy Holder/Slade
10. Woody Guthrie…illness
11. Grace Slick
That’s all I got. Maybe you can add some names.