I started this thread . . . though I wish I could finish it by just shutting it down, quite honestly. We are debating things that are fun to debate about over a few drinks, but it never turns out well on social forums such as this. (And, to be honest, rarely turns out well over a couple of drinks!). On the whole, I’m surprised, because the discourse above has been, for the most part, engaging and balanced. It would be nice to believe we can have these types of discussions without falling to the bottom denominator, but alas . . . sadly it goes there too often.
I have a few thoughts to share . . . and then it’s time to move on:Martin and Mike Z:
Plus 1 on pretty much everything you have both written above. As I know you appreciate, it’s not as much about the confidence of the artist to hear the “bad news,” but how it’s delivered, and on a forum such as this, it’s less “the patient’s going to die” and more “there’s always hope”. Again, I’ll go back to my very first post on JPF two plus years ago—it’s still, in my biased opinion, among the better songs I’ve written, and it’s my go to song to sing when someone asks to hear an original—but it was such a crap recording, in light of what I know now.
But I tell you true, if I had not received the “good” with the “bad” type feedback . . . and, again, thank you all for being both supportive and constructive . . . I can tell you without doubt it would have been the last you saw of me on this board . . . or frankly, anywhere in a public way. Does that mean I had thin skin . . . that I lacked confidence . . . that I had no business putting myself out there if I couldn’t stand up to the criticism? Yes, on all accounts . . . but it doesn’t change the fact that I would never have posted publicly again (for better or worse, depending on your point of view).
And it’s not that I’m any great shakes . . . but I can’t help writing my own melodies and songs. I pick up my guitar and get bored playing someone else’s tunes . . . So I create. And like all of us on this board, I post to share my voice . . . for good or for bad, better or worse. Strange vs. Friend:
I’ll confess the conversation, while interesting, doesn’t do much for me . . . Whether a “stranger” or a “friend,” the feedback is either sincere or not. As an artist, you take it for what it is, taking into account the connection, and addressing the feedback as you see fit. A “stranger” can give great feedback, and a “friend” can give critical, and maybe not helpful, overly kind feedback—I’ve gotten both.
But MIke Z., I think what you are saying is that with friendship comes acceptability. Or perhaps better said, with familiarity comes believability—I agree. So we ultimately respect the opinion of those we know more, or those who have demonstrated to our own satisfaction that they know more. Kolstad:
Plus one on your post as well. As one of those shy kids . . . and still a shy adult . . . maybe I’m over-sensitive to the power of words and that empty feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you are summarily dismissed as not being up to snuff. But I love this: “ . . . be mindful, take it easy, and make a positive difference, just because you can.” I fail often in adhering to that directive, but I keep trying . . . Brian:
You make a terrific point about posters needing to be more specific about the feedback they are looking for. Too often I assume when someone posts they want feedback on the song generally, but that’s clearly not the case. Some are just posting to share their song . . . and that’s fine. Though, given this is a community, it would be nice if those folks would at least spend a little time listening and commenting on other posts, rather than doing a drop and run . . . but that’s an axe to grind on another day.Fdemetrio:
Over a couple of beers, or more exactly for me, a few glasses of wine, I think we’d have a great conversation about all things music. We haven’t had much interaction directly on this board, but what little I can discern of you . . . we have similar tastes in music. That may surprise you given what I’ve posted on MP3 to date, but nonetheless we do. Bruce, Petty, Melloncamp, Croce, R.E.M., Green Day, Weezer, Counting Crows . . . hell, the list goes on. The fact is, I’m not married to any type of music (with the exception of jazz . . . hate it . . . and rap, which beyond the occasional tune of interest, doesn’t do much for me).
I disagree with some of what you’ve said above, but not all of it. Some of what you say has merit: the value of an objective opinion, which I think you equate with the view of a “stranger,” and the fact that a well-produced demo doesn’t make a song a better song, in its heart and bones.
But, to be honest, I started this thread, which I deleted, and which has now obviously taken on a life of its own, because of occasional comments you have consistently made . . . so let’s see if I can bring this whole thing full circle in the closing thoughts that follow . . . Closing Thoughts:
I started this thread because I object to characterizations that the feedback provided on this board is without substance and is intended simply to pat each other on the back in a quid pro quo manner, so that others will “like” us and provide similarly insincere feedback on our own songs.
That’s, well . . . crap, IMHO, and in my experience. It’s dismissive of everyone on the board, posters and commenters alike. But more importantly, I think it misses the very point of a board like this: We are here to share our voices . . . maybe improve, maybe learn . . . but ultimately to share our creative selves. Our audience is not professional musicians, not publishers, not established artists . . . but rather “just plain folks” , who can’t help but pick up an instrument and write a song.
So can’t we as a community take better, more thoughtful care in how we respond to each other’s work, while still helping each other, maybe, to improve? I think we can . . . and in general I think we do. And I take exception to those who don’t, who believe we can't, or who are ultimately unwilling to embrace it.
So, while I should probably stop there . . . I can’t, because it would be contrary to all I wrote above were I not to speak to it: Couch
: You are a very talented writer . . . and part of me gets where you are coming from. And I appreciate that we’ll disagree about Fdemetrio’s “sport song”. But it’s exactly the type of feedback that concerns me. YOU might hate it, I get that—it certainly is not comparable to the fine verse you write. BUT, there are some good things going on in that song—and I went back and listened to it again to be certain of that, from my subjective perspective. There are aspects reminiscent of styles you might hear from Taylor Swift, or Everclear, or Blink 182—all of which you may dislike equally. Sure, there's some work to be done . . . but a "bad song"? For me, dunno . . . as a whole in its current form, maybe . . . but there are aspects of the tune I really like, and with some work it could turn a corner. Is the tune totally without merit for you? And even so, do you think your perspective dictates that it is totally without merit for anyone else?
Listen, there’s a lot I hear on this board that I don’t like or care for . . . that doesn’t mean there’s not some aspect of the song worth acknowledging or admiring. The whole point of this thread (initially) was (I think) to make two points: (1) our constructive criticism is not watered down by being supportive; and (2) what we all think we know about music—about what makes a song good or bad—doesn’t mean squat as long as there is one person to write and sing the song, and one person who loves hearing it.
I’m tapping out from this thread . . . play on, all of us . . . and play nice. We all just want to be heard.