Another musical question, one that's been on my mind for a few years but never really articulated until now: why do musical artists only stick with one style of music?

There are obviously exceptions; I'm listening to the insanely underappreciated Los Lobos right now, and they run the gamut from jazz-flavored country to Tex-Mex/'50s rock and roll hybrids to pop-injected Mexican folk. And lots of other guys (Prince, for one, and Beck both come to mind).

Fans are a factor, probably. I'm guessing that if Green Day suddenly released a bluesy gospel album, hundreds of suburbs across the nation would implode from the collective teen aneurysms. And while the Rolling Stones have shifted their sonic application slightly over the decades, I doubt they'd keep their fortune afloat if they started working on trip-hop collections.

There is also the possibility that influence and talent play vital factors, the latter being more key. I skim over lots of music publications, and you'd be surprised to see how many genre-saddled artists have very different influences. So I guess, in most cases, that rules the former possibility out.

But maybe most bands can just hack what they're playing. I'm sure plenty of radio rock bands (aka Stonesour/Nickelback/Staind) would melt if they tried to play 12-bar blues or eastern European folk. I'd also wager that those bands wouldn't WANT to change genres, which is OK. (Well, it's not OK in the sense that they suck, but they can do what they want.)

In the next few months, I'll (Lord-willing) be able to get together with a couple of very talented friends and form a band. We've discussed it. I've thought this a few times: "What sort of music should we play?"

And then I thought, "why am I thinking about limits?" Between the three--hopefully four--of us, we're influenced by everything from African tribal music to southern roots music to Latino to atmospheric indie rock to shoegazer to jazz to blue-eyed soul. And maybe pop/punk? Eek?

I'm not sure of my point. But when people sometimes complain about a band "changing styles," why is this a bad thing?

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 10/08/2006 12:04:00 AM,


At 12:06 AM, Blogger Jason said...

For the record, I posted this at 11:56 on my computer's clock. I think Blogger is smoking crack.

At 1:48 AM, Blogger Janet said...

ah, the day when even our creations begin smoking crack. beautiful? tragic?

...it's late.

At 9:43 AM, Blogger Keith Martel said...

Norah Jones? (that is, shifts styles pretty radically- not the crack smoking thing)

At 10:47 AM, Blogger Simmons said...

I have often wondered the same thing.

I don't listen to much Christian music anymore, but one band that I have followed since their college show days has been Jars of Clay. Each new disc has something different from the last. They are not afraid to stray from the acoustic roots.


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