Dust in the Wind

I was watching MTV2's greatest 22 bands list this morning, and I got me thinking about an important aspect of being a great band/artist. In order to be considered a great band/artist you have to have created enough good albums, and have been around for long enough so that history will forget, or forgive, the crap that you have created.

I think the prime example of this is Bob Dylan. Everyone loves him and considers him a genius. Critics wonder who the next Dylan will be as if every generation must have a Dylan. We have books and documentaries attempting to figure out his genius. It seems like the man can do no wrong, everything is brilliant and worthy of serious study. Well everything except for say "Saved" or "Slow Train Coming." Generally, that whole Christian period for Dylan has been largely forgotten. Also, when was the last time you saw, or heard of, "Renaldo and Clara"?

U2 seems is also being treated well by history. Their story seems to be told as starting out with a heavy Clash influence, making a masterpiece in the Joshua Tree, and continuing with Achtung Baby and Rattle and Hum. Then they prove that they are still relevant with "All That You Can't Leave Behind" and "Elevation." I will concede that some people will acknowledge the "Zooropa" album, but "Pop" is gone. The band has even distanced themselves from this disaster, citing that the record had to be finished quickly. They even remixed the few songs that made it onto U2's greatest hits.

I think that almost every great artist has had these little flubs removed by the progress of history. Take Bruce Springsteen, not even Randy Jackson himself could save "Human Touch." Hendrix was lucky enough to be dead when a lot of his sub par work was aired, so there is no way those charges will stick. Most of Eric Clapton's career has been a disaster lost to the ages. I am amazed that the Rolling Stones have managed have everyone forget the last half of their career.

I wonder if the current state of the music industry prevents artists from lasting long enough for their sins to be forgiven. The majors are giving little to no artist development, and the indie kids are rushing over the next new thing as quickly as possible, hoping to be the first ones there.

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