News and Views

Good luck Blaze!

I was sorry to not have a chance to say goodbye to Blaze at the recent festival Lean on Me 2, but I was in the UK. It so happens I bid in a charity auction and got four guitar lessons with him for 1000 baht. Bargain! (..and God, don’t I need them!) But then I was too busy to do them….

That was a shame as, being a nosy amateur journalist, I was interested in finding out more about him before he headed off to the USA to seek fame and fortune. I hope all goes well.

I have to admit to feeling a strange sense of loss as Blaze was not afraid to write and perform his own songs, and there sure ain’t much of that going on here in Phuket. It’s important. Very important.

You see, imagine how impoverished the world would be if the Beatles just played Chuck Berry songs? Or The Rolling Stones ones by Muddy Waters? Or if John Lee Hooker songs were all you’d hear from Jimi Hendrix? If Eric Clapton only played Robert Johnson covers? Songwriters are important.

However, music in a tourist destination like Phuket is inevitably dominated by bands playing other people’s songs, yet creativity is clearly supremely important in music. If someone somewhere doesn’t take the risk of performing their own material, music is forever doomed to stagnation. For original songs can lead to a unique musical style and ultimately, perhaps, to a whole new, exciting genre of music. Who knows, it might happen here with a fusion of rock and Isan dance music!

But it’s not easy being a songwriter these days. So much has already been done before, and computer songwriting software risks songs ending up sounding all the same. Writing hit songs is risky and involves a great deal of self-belief and dedication. Lyrics too are often personal; sharing them publically may not be comfortable, but there’s little emotional connection if you don’t. Only the bravest of the brave write and play their own songs today.

So good luck Blaze. Keep writing and playing those songs, and please keep us musos here updated on how you are getting on.

Oh, and when you become the next Jack White, I’ll be popping around for those four guitar lessons, promise!

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