On Artistry vs. Consumer Culture

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The artists I like won’t sacrifice their vision for a few bucks.

It’s about the art, the beauty, the creation, trying to do something others haven’t and to expand their own horizons.

I was thinking about this while driving last night, listening to LIndsey Buckingham’s Seeds We Sow album — and yes, I know he’s boomer music, but bear with me because he actually does things a lot different than others, and it’s why I respect him as an artist and musician more than pretty much all the major boomer music acts out there.

For the non-boomers, he was in a band called Fleetwood Mac, who for a long time had the best selling album of all time in Rumors. It was standard California boomer pop, though it resonated a lot because so many of the band members were fighting with each other because they dated each other and then hated each other, and then took it out on each other in their music. While I can listen to those songs, this isn’t why I like Lindsey.

It came time to make a follow up album, Lindsey decided he wasn’t going to be satisfied just making some pop album again. He nearly constructed his own studio to get sounds he wanted, made different effects himself, toiled hard in the studio — I spoke with someone in the industry who said for one song he spent two full weeks just trying to get the snare drum to make the sound he wanted and spent that whole time experimenting with different microphones and moving around, etc.

He pissed off his band, cuz they just wanted $, but he made one of the most extraordinary art projects of all time with Tusk. It’s beautiful and different on every level. No one sounds like that, no one ever will again because it’s such a financial train wreck to create such a masterpiece.

And it’s been like that throughout their history. Lindsey wants to try something new, some new art project, he gets push back from his band, they fight over it. Repeat.

There’s a great documentary on when they finally returned to the studio in the early 2000s to make a new album, another one where Lindsey really changed the sound to be something so different from everything else out there. They have cameras hidden in the studio to show what a train wreck the process is in the documentary, and Stevie Nicks keeps bashing Lindsey “THIS ISN”T SOME ART PROJECT!” over and over, and it’s clear she doesn’t even want to make new music at all cuz it’s not a financial success to do so.

It’s sad to watch, because he really expanded what he did in those years and did some great stuff, and I think the people around him held him down by naysaying.

And then you see how Stevie does greatest hits concerts solo, sells out arenas, and meanwhile, Lindsey, with his true to form art has to play much smaller venues.

Eventually, Fleetwood Mack kicked him out of the band last year because they didn’t want to deal with the art aspect, and just want to rake in cash playing the same 12 songs over and over the same way.

Artistic vision costs, because most people are too dumb to understand artistry at all, and when you see something that’s raking in cash and there doesn’t seem to be a good reason why, it’s never involved with good artistry. It’s better for an artist to not play to masses to create something worthwhile — cuz that worthwhile beauty does glory to God and creation.

I took a survey of my audience the other day to see what they wanted me to write next. The options I presented are all ones I’m willing to do, and what resulted was readers want a Sword & Sorcery book from me.

I’m going to deliver that, but I have a vision that’s so unique, so bold, so different… and I don’t believe it’s something that’s ever been done before. I’m going to do it even though this is not the best way to make money at art — however it is the best way for me to create something beautiful I’ll be proud of.

I hope you’ll come along for that ride. I can’t say more right now because it’s in such beginning planning stages, but it’s by far the most ambitious undertaking I’ve ever engaged upon.

Thanks for being there — especially to those of you who understand the vision.

In the meantime, I hope you’re enjoying my steampunk series. I’m expanding my vision in that too as I wrote a book 4 that takes the series in a wild new direction. It’s still in edits but in the meantime, check out my favorite book I’ve written, the Blood of Giants, which has crazy adventure like few other books have.

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2 thoughts on “On Artistry vs. Consumer Culture

  1. Fascinating post! Thanks for sharing. 🙂 Found it via the Realm Makers Consortium and so glad I did! I picked up a copy of For Steam and Country the other day and I’m looking forward to reading it! 🙂

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