I’m so glad I’m not in the music game anymore. It’s a tough way to make a living. First you have to learn to play music. Find other musicians with whom you can actually get along (harder than you might think). Then you have to learn a whole new skill set – producing songs for live shows. Once you figure that out you become your own booking agent, manager, road manager and merch salesman. Plus your shows are terrible at first because you don’t know what you are doing yet. Then comes about two years of struggling to figure it out. Hundreds of shows for less than 20 people. Three hour sets in a bar and grill while somebody yells out “Freebird!” every fifteen minutes – like you haven’t heard it a million times already. Once you finally scrap and fight your way to the point where you can make a living at it, somebody creates the Spice Girls… ugh.
I’ve heard more than my fair share of criticism of Mumford and Sons. Most of it comes from seasoned musicians – folks who earned their stripes the hard way. The criticism is usually, “I don’t get it,” or “this is the stuff we did sitting around stoned in my bedroom when I was in 8th grade.” It’s hard not to smell the sour grapes in the critique. I remember the exact same stuff being said (by me?), about Jars of Clay back when we were all just starting out in the mid 90s. Satellite Soul was my life. We were working our tails of and Jars comes along… they could barely play their instruments when they first started out. I once watched them try four times to get their DAT audio player to start so they could perform a song – implication being that they couldn’t play the song without the music track (Millie Vanilli style). I would say, “This is nothing that any youth group band couldn’t do.”
The thing is – it wasn’t something any youth group band could do. If it was, they would’ve done it. It’s always harder than it looks. I regret that I said those things back then. I have nothing but respect for anyone who puts their music out there and tries to be vulnerable in that way. Jars of Clay grew into their own music and became, frankly, an amazing band making great music and putting on shows that were crazy fun to watch.
My wife was listening to Sirius – the channel that plays Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers, Of Monsters and Men, Phillip Phillips et al. The DJ (they still have those on Sirius), was trying to come up with a new name for the genre. His audience helped him and they arrived at “Arena Folk.” I love it.
So enjoy a little Friday Funny at the expense of Mumford and Sons, who I’m guessing will be laughing all the way to the bank!