Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Let's talk music

Over at youtube, a "fan" calling himself JohnnieFab left this nice comment under Half Past Forever's "Know" video:

"This is exactly the kind of generic, effortless, meaningless faux-rock that keeps talented musicians, performers, and composers from getting main stream exposure. As long as this kind of music is being played by mtv and radio stations, kids will be robbed of the opportunity to hear music with artistic integrity. It makes me cringe."

This one actually made me kind of laugh. But then it made me kind of think.

What music will still be around thirty years from now? What is it about this music that made JohnnieFab have such a strong reaction to it? Is my music really robbing people of the opportunity to hear music with artistic integrity? Well, it's an age-old debate. Do you have to make music that sounds like crap in order to have artistic credibility and intergrity? Or do you simply try to write great songs? I would contend for the latter.

Radiohead is in my top favorite bands - admittedly I don't listen to them all the time because that can get boring very quickly. But, across the board, Radiohead is one of the most inventive, chance-taking and experimental bands of our time, maybe of all time. But as their albums have gotten weirder and weirder, fewer and fewer people listen to them. Some bands seem to brandish this about as a badge of honor, but is it really something to be proud of?

The very nature of music is that it is a language to be enjoyed by others. From the very beginning, composers wrote music to be enjoyed by the people they wrote it for. From the dark ages on really through the twentieth century, the whole art of composition was a wholly commercial endeavor. Composers worked for rich people and wrote music for their parties. Rich people were the original publishers and record companies - the rich people owned every song their composer wrote. The composer was, in return, paid handsomely for his efforts, but if he didn't play the political system, many times great composers would end up penniless and dying young (i.e., Mozart).

Now, jazz music was where things started to change. Jazz was a free form of music where, originally, African-Americans would get together and simply play. It grew from the Spirituals that were sung during the slavery days, and from "tribal" beats. Jazz is and was a free form - there were no barring rules as there was in classical music. In jazz, whatever comes and happens and feels good IS good. Suddenly instrumentalists were actually straying away from written music and "riffing" - of course classical musicians thrashed against this new form of music because it went against everything they had been taught. But jazz stayed and stayed and became more and more popular.

Soon, pop music (short for popular music) was jazz and off-shoots of jazz, and the revolutionaries like Miles Davis then became more and more experimental in response to jazz now being the pop music of the day. Then rock and roll came in. Elvis, Cliff Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many more took pop jazz one step further and mixed in a little blues and a whole lot of backbeat. Then along came the Beatles and their incredible ability to write a pop ditty. But with the Beatles a lot of things changed, aside from the sugary sweet sounds of "I Want to Hold Your Hand".

The Beatles were one of the first artists to write their own songs. In the early 1960's an artist writing their own songs was relatively unheard of - everyone did covers of each other while Tin Pan Alley writers (like, surprisingly, Neil Diamond and Carole King) churned out cheesy hits for bands to sing ("I'm a Believer" anyone?). Not only did the Beatles write their own songs, but soon even they became bored with their success at writing hooks, so they became experimental.

And this is where I think the rub lies. If you listen to the "experimental" Beatles, and break the songs down to just the song themselves, they are simply pop songs. "A Day in the Life" or "Strawberry Fields Forever", though surrounded by interesting elements, they are simple pop songs.

The Beatles gave life to a whole lineage of bands that seem to lose the song and focus on the experiment - Pink Floyd (though I love a lot of their stuff, it sometimes is hard to find the song) on down to Radiohead. And somehow, this music is considered artful while a band who writes hooks is not artful.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love experimental music: I listen to Radiohead on a regular basis, I listen to Sigur Ros a lot, bands like Muse and Mutemath and Starsailor have littered my CD player for years. I love the experimental and off-the-wall, not-so-marketable stuff. It whets my appetite and makes me long to be a better musician, and to understand how the experiments were put together.

But as I kind of moved from being a simple songwriter to what I feel like is a genuine musician (no, I don't put myself in the class of some of these people I am speaking of), I started to wonder - do I want to make experimental stuff that wil never sell, but will make me very happy? Or do I want to make a living doing music and still create great art? And when I looked at the example of especially the Beatles, I understood that great art and marketability are not mutually exclusive.

So, here is the process of how I write songs.

#1 - I find a great tune. Usually, I'll sit around with an acoustic guitar (sometimes electric, if Sarah's not around) and just play around until I find a cool chord progression that I like. I try to challenge myself to use different chord progressions and, as my guitar playing skills have bettered, I try to mess around with riffs. Once I've found a great chord progression I will then begin to fashion a melody around it. I'm odd, I think, in that I usually write words at the same time as the music - many times it's just jibberish that I'm singing over the chords...sometimes the jibberish ends up in the song, sometimes I completely re-write the lyric.

#2 - I find a great subject matter. Wierdly enough, usually, the subject matter is decided by how the tune is coming together. I'd say over half the time, the jibberish that I sing while I'm riffing or jamming ends up being the lyric of the song, or at least the general idea of the song. I try hard to paint word pictures with my music, so the music and lyrics work very tightly with me...or at least I try to make them work very tightly together.

#3 - I then find the right setting. I am somewhat odd as a songwriter (at least the songwriters I know) in that as I'm writing a song, in my head I can hear how the production will be put together. With the album that is out now, I knew how nearly every song was going to be produced before I got into the studio...I just heard it in my head. This makes it easy for me, but tough sometimes for my band - but I think it worked out great. Some songs are just simple pop songs that don't need anything more - "Tunnel Vision", "Waiting", "Rise" and others are the kinds of songs that just need a simple arrangement (with flourishes I'll talk about later). Songs like "Convenience", "Naive", "Gone" and others needed complex arrangements. I always try to go where the song takes me - I do not like to force something on a song that it doesn't need.

#4 - Finally, I add as many layers as possible. All of my songs are pretty basic pop songs - verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo or bridge-chorus-out. What I do to try and make it more interesting is adding in interesting elements that get stacked. For instance on "Know" the song that JohnnieFab had such a violent reaction to, we started off with a pop song, but added in a keyboard line on the verses and the bridge that fleshes out the chord progression (which is actually not a normal pop chord progression - 1 to minor 5 to 4 to 1). We added a contrapuntal string line that takes up a lot of space. And in the background, there is a tinkly pad that we surrounded with reverb to create space in the back of the mix. All of these things took what could've been a boring production to what we felt like was an interesting production.

Now, do most of my songs take risks from a songwriting standpoint? No...I'm not writing "Bohemian Rhapsody" here. I write pop songs. I usually have a general rule that if I sat down and played these songs to a crowd with just an acoustic guitar and vocal that I could pull them off. Is it as interesting with just an acoustic? No. But the songs have the ability to stand on their own.

Are most of my songs commercial? Yes. But my process in writing commercial songs is no different than my process of writing more experimental songs. The day I sell out is when I "sit down to write a hit". Up until now, I've just written the best I could and what comes to my heart and mind. Hopefully that will never change.

So, to conclude, I'll say this: I don't think that my music is robbing kids of the opportunity to hear real music with artistic integrity. I hope, if anything else, my music is a gateway drug to bands like Muse, MuteMath, Sigur Ros and Radiohead - cause, man, they're great, too.


steve-o-meter said...

Wow...that was an awesome read! Everyone in my family is musical, except me....so I've always wanted to know how they do what they do.

I've wondered this about you as well.

I agree with you that music is meant to touch people...to make them think AND to bring them together. It's also a form of entertainment.

Not a darn thing wrong with pop songs, IMHO, and those who really really have a hatred towards it...kinda make me sad.

I have a family member who abhors anything that isn't 'experimental' the way THEY think it should be...it's wild, and I've never understood it. He's very adament about it, and it kind of rules his life...odd stuff.

Anyway! Thanks for the post!!

Anonymous said...

You know what I hate....critics...Johhyfab probably listens to obscure bands that are probably starving...will never be heard, but they still have artistic credibility(?)...whatever, every musician wants to make a living at it, they'd be lying if they said otherwise....I happen to think your music is much better than he gives you credit for....but I guess you'll have to hear that kind of drivel if you continue with this business....

rawk on, chris...

Laura in CT said...

LOLOL "The History of Music" by Visiting Professor Chris Sligh...

As long as there is music, there will be people who appreciate it...and people who don't. My personal opinion (and I tell this to my guy who moans and groans that his music is "outdated") is if you love it, do it. If it makes YOU happy to do what you do, don't worry about what anybody else thinks...the music you make comes from your heart and soul. It's a part of you. While it may make other people happy, ultimately YOU are the one who is most affected by it.

I really enjoyed reading about how you put together a song, too. For those of us who don't write music, it's very interesting to see how it all comes together. Which do you find easier, the music or the lyrics? And which do you enjoy more, singing or playing? Just curious...

Anonymous said...

FYI, it's "weird," not "wierd."

Tom in ATL said...

Dude -

Thanks for the insight on how you do what you do. On the surface, I would guess JohnnieFab just doesn't dig your sound, but more likely, has some preconceived beef with you - (Maybe he dislikes Christians, Maybe he dislikes all things commercial such as AI, maybe he is anti-Fro, etc.) We all have different tastes and prejudices. Welcome to the public eye, Chris Sligh.

Don't let it get in your head - you have a gift from God to make music that can inspire and change people's lives. Or alternatively, melt their face. A rare combination. It's not for everyone - but for those who are into it - it means alot.

Peace -

Tom in ATL

Anonymous said...

Damn man, great post! Love the insight into song writing and pop music in general.

For me personally, there is nothing wrong with catchy music and frankly, I dont care much for experimental music. There is this weird snobbery these days; a believe that music, television or movies needs to be experimental or non-mainstream to be good. Like our entertaintment industry is somehow ineffective when its...entertaining.

As you mentioned, the Beatles are the most respected, successful band of our times and they wrote simple pop diddies. All the greats: Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Billy Joel, Aerosmith, Mettallica, the Beatles, the Stones, etc. created fantastic catchy melodies while pushing the music boundries.

Thanks for the great post,


nan said...

I had never even heard of mutemath until you mentioned them, now they are one of my faves.

cynrama said...

I wish we could ask Johnniefab what exactly he thinks isn't artistic about your music! Oh well, everyone has an opinion, don't they! I like music that speaks a message to me, that means something and I don't enjoy listening to music that has so much going on that I miss the words. Good music gives me a special feeling and I'm able to relate the song to my life, and I can do that with your music so if that's not artistic then I don't know what is! Shake it off because you've got fans who love you. Your doing a great job and Im proud of you. God Bless.

rosalee said...

This post finally addresses some of my unanswered questions from your Q&A section. Thanks for listening.

The Beatles are CLASSIC and their songs have withstood the test of time. I love every one of their songs.

You need to have hooks in your music - Hooks = Hits. Hooks are what appeal to people and make the songs memorable. Even classical composers like Beethoven had hooks in their music.

So, what is the meaning of "So Easy", or is it all "jibberish"?


Tom N. said...

Very well said. I have listened to your cd several times and find it to be highly creative. I am looking forward to more of your recordings as I like the style and sound of your music. I thought your release of Take A Chance... was highly creative and the layering as you described it. There is constructive criticism then there are just critics who like to rip other people and things apart just because they can.

TimeYUPunishMe said...

Chris, I hope you won't get angry. Kay does not...LOL....I have to correct some things. First, it's weird not wierd. :)

2nd..Cliff Richard....No S

As for I'm A Believer, it was composed by Neil Diamond. I don't know if he composed it for The Monkees though. He also composed Red Red Wine which was a No. 1 hit for UB40.

Yeah, Carole King was primarily a composer before she hit it big with Tapestry. She even made a song for her maid, Little Eva. Remember Locomotion?

I like your songs. Period. :)

Have a great day.

Anonymous said...

Chris -

Have you ever checked out a band called Umphrey's McGee? If not, go to www.umphreys.com and have a look - I think you'll love them. Post a reply, and thanks.


Cathy Storms said...

Great Post (as usual)..Thanks for all the insight into your writing music. Music is such a blueprint of someone's life. Mine anyway.
You are not robbing anyone of the opportunity to hear real music. Actually it's just the opposite.
I don't think of your songs as commercial but as soulful and heartfelt. I love your CD and can't wait for the next one.

Anonymous said...

this post was facinating to me...i love all types of music from old school rock & bluegrass to pop. in my cd player right now is Santana, Justin Timberlake, Fleetwood Mac, HPF, Tracy Chapman, David Allen Coe, Elvis, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eagles, Christia Aguilera, Allison Krauss, Peter and the Wolf (rock version)just for starters...a pretty diverse list. To me, just a garden variety music lover, music is made up of a few basic elements. Emotions, experiences and the ability to introduce and include the listener to these elements. If an artist has that talent then they have my ear. And BTW HPF flat out rocks! Anyway...your songwriting AND delivery very much adds to the beautifully diverse musical landscape that is forever growing. Sounds like johnnie fab might have the green eyed monster lurking around him...

brooksie said...

I just had to add my two cents to what is being said. I am old enough to be your mom and I LOVE your music. I have always had music in my life and the Beatles, Billy Joel and Carly Simon are tops on my list. Currently music includes Weezer and John Mayer. I think what makes a good song, a song that will stay with you doesn't have to be complicated - but just makes you feel good, and want to sing along. Often times a GOOD song will stay in my head for days - or until another one bumps it off and is in its place. I feel that way when I listed to your CD. I fell in love with your voice on IDOL - and wanted to hear more. Yes, you do have fans all ages and I'm sure all around the world. That must be exciting for you. I know when I hear a GOOD sound, and that isn't as easy to find as some may think - I just want more. I have listed to In a Moment, Naive, Know and Rise - Rise is my new favorite - while I'm in my car and they just sound like the classics that I have listened to my whole life.

I think you have a wonderful future and it is fun to watch you on this journey. I swore I wouldn't go to the IDOL tour this year, but I think I will just have to - to see what you bring.

Honestly, your God given voice will take you far. Your values and convictions just make the lyrics so sweet to my ears. So much music these days have no integrity and some are just downright filthy - and it is such a priveldge to find a band and songwriter that can give us the "ditty" and have value in the words at the same time.

Hang in there and remember that you have lots of fans that are in your corner - and are waiting for you to become the STAR that Simon said you should be...
Your friend in Arizona

xangelglitterx said...

Dear Chris,
I am beginning to think that the mere aspect of our human existence has become so desensitized that some people no longer can process good music. If it doesn't include some swearing, provocation, or sense of shame into it they call it trash. Well call it what you will but those of us who love clean living and have a head not occluded by alcohol, drugs, or other substances can appreciate real talent for what it is worth. Music has changed by the decades and I for one wish the MTV videos never happened. However, it has and if they think that seeing young innocent women being degraded or trash talked about is music then we have lost a part of the world. I really don't feel it necessary to sing a song showing all your skin in the videos. Not to mention the lyrics themselves rob women of all color>>>> dignity and respect which has also been lost to our young children. I enjoy all types of music and have listened to a MULTI RANGE of it since birth. I thank God I was given a great pair of ears to enjoy this precious gift. In no way am I dissing anyone here for their choice of song but I feel that the need to degrade a person of any race, religion, or ethnic background is necessary to write a GREAT SONG or tell a GOOD JOKE. Why is necessary to point out someones flaw? The music you have written IN MY OPINION is done well, carefully planed out, has a good sound quality, has a great rhythm in no way is it disappointing, the message is clear and in good taste. I have seen countless girls torn up by the music industry and no longer have respect for themselves because of it. World just look at the headlines in news of out of control people. Lives being wasted not because of music but because of the degradation of it. Chris you have skills and I for one appreciate it. Thanks for the great work.


ONE LOVE>>>>>>

Jason In MB said...

Chris I think your music is much more artistic than most pop bands today...TACOSB is one of the most complete albums I have heard in a long long time...very well done...

music snob said...

I don't want to be an ass, but if you really think that your music has the potential to act as a gateway drug to Radiohead and Sigur Ros, you're pretty misguided. Radiohead might not get as much radioplay as they did during Pablo Honey/The Bends era, but Kid A debuted at #1 on Billboard (despite not having a single or video) and they've sold more copies the first week out with each subsequent album. And if you've ever tried to get tickets to their concerts, you would know they sell out in minutes -- and then people scalp them for four and five times the face value on eBay. At both Bonaroo and Coachella last year, the entire festival went nuts for Radiohead - and I wasn't the only person invested a few hundred dollars in driving/camping there for the weekend, primarily for them. No, they aren't commercial, but they have a loyal and deeply invested fanbase, and frankly, kids are much more likely to take the leap from Th Pixies or Pink Floyd or The Beatles to Radiohead...not your band. Radiohead is not a "mainstream" band in the sense that they cultivate getting on the radio and MTV and being all over TV shows and in commercials, but they are far from being that weird experimental English band. OK Computer was 10 years ago...Radiohead isn't a secret anymore, it never really was.

I'm not going to condemn you for making music that sounds like a million other bands - do what you do - and do what makes you feel happy, but that doesn't mean an argument can't be made that because a million bands that all sound the same are glutting the airwaves, truly awesome artists (that don't even have to be experimental...just not the same as everything else) don't get the exposure that they deserve. Chad Van Galen, Rilo Kiley, Death Cab, The Kaiser Chiefs, Explosions in the Sky, Mates of State, Peter, Bjorn and John, Sufjan Stevens...I could go on all deserve more exposure than they get...and they don't get it because a generic sound has a stronghold on radio. I'm not saying you or your band are to blame, I don't think you even enter into the equation...but trying to argue that because you write pop songs, you're like the Beatles is absurd.

The reason The Beatles will probably always be the greatest band of all time is because they achieved that rare/almost impossible task of being hailed by both the populous and the intelligencia. Being commercial and being brilliant are not mutually exclusive, but they sure aren't common.

sandmoran said...

Chris, another example of how you can't please everyone. You are very much pleasing a rapidly growing fanbase though, and though A.I. is probably some sort of catalyst for that, your songwriting skills, as well as the talent of your bandmates, will be what sustains it.

ChrisSligh said...

Music Snob,

Thank you for the entry - I found it actually very well done...I think that you took some of my statements completely out of context however.

I was not in any way downing Radiohead - as I said they are one of my favorite bands. However, record sales have shown that they have become less and less "commercial" (i.e., record sales) with each ensuing album. I personally love their stuff, though, as I kind of said, I take it in doses. (Same with Sigur Ros, etc.)

I have to wonder if you have actually bought my band's album and listened to it completely thru because, though it is commercial in some senses, there are very unmarketable songs that I would call radiohead or muse-lite. I put those songs in purposefully to make a record that I would enjoy as being artful and commercial in the same album. Sure, a song like "Know" is a pop song, but I'd hardly call it generic and neither would the record companies that are woo-ing me right now. Across the board they think that is a great piece of art that will also be a hit.

Also, to call the band generic or to say that we make music like a million other bands is, in my opinion, foolish...I can't think of another band that sounds like us, though there are similarities from song to song, there is no one I know of who combines their influences over an album like we have to make something that we think is different over all. Anyone can take 1 song from a band and dissect it and say it sounds like something else - I can do it with a ton of Radiohead songs...but as is the same with Radiohead, I'd say with us: we want you to buy into the whole package.

The reason I say that I hope we're a gateway drug to Muse, MuteMath, Sigur Ros and Radiohead is that they are some of my major influences. If people like my music, even the weirder stuff, then maybe they'll give those bands a chance...and many I know of have given Muse and MuteMath a chance because of my recommendation.

I agree completely that the bands and artists you mentioned should get more airplay and promotion. But to count me or anyone else in a band you personally don't prefer as part of the problem is as ludicrous as you feel my attempt to be a gateway drug is. The problem is that record labels have to sell records to make money...the bands and artists that you mention don't sell a lot of records...they are self-indulgent and "too smart" for the average listener. Now, the smart kids love them. Musicians love them. But usually the smart kids and musicians don't buy records. So, the record labels sign a bunch of Britney Spears and *NSync clones to support the true artists - but even that is happening more and more rare these days. So blame the buying public and the public school systems for removing most music programs from schools - maybe they could teach kids to listen to better music.

So, whether you look like an ass or not is not up to me - to me you're just an avid music fan with an opinon like everyone else. But to avoid the comparison you probably don't want to misrepresent something that I've said on my own blog. I never argued that we were like the Beatles. I said that I used the Beatles as a benchmark for what I wanted to do as an artist. They wrote great pop songs then surrounded them with interesting elements - that is what I want to do as an artist. I never made the claim to be even close to the Beatles. You're right the Beatles are the greatest band ever...but just because they were great in no way means that no one else can be great while writing simple pop songs. It's all in how it is done.

There are crappy pop songs and there are good pop songs. The Beatles wrote great ones. I hope to write great ones. If I can walk the line of artistry and marketability then good for me. If I fail, then I failed trying to do something noble.


Anonymous said...

I remember a poetry-writing class in college . . . some of my classmates thought that poetry had to be so obscure that no one could understand what the poem meant without an author's commentary (like T. S. Eliot's "The Wasteland".)

Sometimes it's nice to be able to easily wrap your mind around a message and really enjoy it, in both poetry and music. Fun and obtainable melody/harmony and lyrics don't mean you're selling out.

Badpacifist said...

Me thinks JohnnieFab had a bad night at the pizza palace because JohnnieFab's co-worker thought JohnnieFab's music was generic, effortless, meaningless faux-rock.

Cathy Storms said...

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but why do I feel sad when someone says mean stuff about your music?

Carrie said...

Which of your songs do you consider to be the non-marketable and/or more experimental ones?

HstryQT said...

Wow - how cool to get into your musical head like that.

You can see songs in your mind like I can see history. (I have this random visual timeline in my head that I can zoom in and out of - sounds crazy, I know). I know it's hard to explain how you go about your craft, so I admire you taking the time to do this!

:) Lori

Christi (aka Maurrowe) said...

awesome post Chris!

Your music is incredible and I don't think it's depriving anyone of anything. In fact, I think your music is a nice and refreshing change from some of the music I have listened to in the past. I was getting really tired of the depressing lyrics most pop songs have today. Yours are so up-beat and inspiring. not to mention original!

I think this Johnny dude is just one of those jealous untalented tone-deaf nerds... the world is full of them!

Anonymous said...

How come when someone criticizes your music you always have to make a blog longer than a book trying to prove them wrong? You lecture us for stating your opinion and then when someone disagrees you always have to blog about it? Like Ricky Hoggard at idolforums and Rickey at rickey.org. To me I see you like picking on people. Just wondering.

ChrisSligh said...

To the anonymous blogger,

Okay. So I'm a bully.

Btw, I never started a blog war with Rickey.

And neither Ricky or Rickey ever commented on my music. Please get your facts straight before you say something.

If you don't like my music, fine. But when I'm misquoted or misunderstood, I'll try to clarify.

Thanks for giving me another blog hit.


Cathy Storms said...

Chris...you rock

Anonymous said...

Did you ever consider writing a book? You should consider it - you are a great writer.

Anonymous said...

To the previous anonymous post - if you think Chris is beating up on people's opinion why are you reading HIS blog. It is his blog and he can writes what he wants to!
I loved the post and I don't understand why the 'experimental' music crowd gets in such a tizzy about mainstream music. If the 'experimental' music had more appeal to it then it would get more airplay. We live in a supply and demand economy, the supply of self-described 'artists' vastly outnumbers the economic demand for their work. Mainstream music is mainstream because it is good music with a wide appeal. Just because something makes money does not make it bad. I like several experimental bands - My favorite group of all time (after HPF of course) is They might be Giants.
But frankly most of the other albums I've listened to, while it may be experimental and 'artistic', sounds like CRAP!
It is not fun and takes itself WAAAAAAYYYYY too seriously.

bmorebamma said...

i agree with lara in ct.as a comsumer, i know what i like and and don't like . and iam sure NOT goning to this persons comments persuade me in anyway, you have a very special gift , please don't let his IDOIT get to you .you have to remember that no matter what you do , or the type of person you are there will always be someone waiting to knock you down , in other words you just can't win with some people.

IknowIam said...

You big bully you.

Seriously though, that was pretty funny. Think I'll go "blog" about that now.

Man, Kudos...just kudos. That was great. Keep up the good....writing.!

Laura in CT said...


Chris Sligh...admits he's a bully???

**runs off to some random forum to start another rumor**


It's amazing how childish adults can be, isn't it? Ugh!

bmorebamma said...

bmorebamma rant a comming ........ anonymous rickey this and rickey that . who's the heck is this person . does he have a job , is he your god, what ??? your kiddin right.YOU HAVE TO REMBEMBER THIS IS MR. SLIGHS BLOG, he can say anything he wants to becuse IT'S HIS BLOG . DUH !!!! DOH !!!. then you can come in here , make the snide remarks and poof . your otta here !!! i agree that NOT everyone WILL agree with everything that chris says BUT it's done with respect and THAT'S all that mr. sligh os asking geez . well bammas rant is over for now . (ahhhhhhhh that felt good though).

knealvarr said...

Can I reply to one of the previous "anonymous" posters?

"But frankly most of the other albums I've listened to, while it may be experimental and 'artistic', sounds like CRAP!
It is not fun and takes itself WAAAAAAYYYYY too seriously"

It's because it's an acquired taste..as it breaks the mold I'm assuming we may have an adverse reaction since we're not used to it. But that's just it - once one gets a sense of this music and gives it a few listens, you see the art and the innovation. I speak from personal experience - first listen it sounds bizaare and delving into allows one to appreciate its beauty, which isn't obvious but once it is known resonates deeper, in my opinion.

Not to say catchy music isn't artful, it most certainly can be.

Anonymous said...

Chris, I was wondering if you wouldn't mind naming some specific bands/artists that you refer to when you say this:

"Do you have to make music that sounds like crap in order to have artistic credibility and intergrity?"

You must have something in mind and I honestly don't know what you refer to when you speak of crappy music recognized as credible/artistic. Thanks

Anonymous said...


Very well written. I read the anonymous hit and runs. Why don't these folks stick around and put up a half way decent fight? I've said this before I love, love that you blog and that your real fans get to know you on a more personal level. However the blogging leaves you wide open for all the critics. Sure they have their right to their opinions, and it makes for interesting reading, something I suspect you enjoy. Honestly, I have to wonder if these folks actually bought your CD? I'm guessing not. I suspect they use your blog as a forum to push their agendas and get in a swat or two.

I look forward to the day when you don't feel the need to explain yourself or defend who you are. Your fans adore you exactly the way you are, we buy your music and we don't need explanations.

Keep doing what you do!

DJ in AL

EEEEMommy said...

First of all "I'm a Believer" is NOT cheesy!
Secondly, I just came over to say that I picked up the phone and voted for the first time....FOR PHIL! Melinda is still my favorite, but Phil was fabulous and I was concerned that he didn't have the voter base to keep him for another week. Not that my 10 votes make much of an impact when there are 70 million and counting, but Phil deserves to stick around another week!

OldMommy said...

I really wish you would learn how to spell the word "weird". You use it a lot.

cynrama said...

Here I am again putting in my opinion.

Before I became of fan of you and your music, I never knew about Muse or Mutemath and I had heard of DCTalk but hadn't really heard any of their newer music. Because of the insperation that these bands gave you, I began to listen to them...so YOU were MY gateway drug! lol. I wouldn't have known about them otherwise. So thanks for introducing these artists to me. Though they didn't "melt my face off" like HPF, I still enjoyed them! Keep your head up. Some people just enjoy being negative and will search out negativity in anything. God Bless.

Anonymous said...

I know this is not the PHIL STACEY blog but I dont care. He was awesome tonight. I did the tivo rewind three times and watched him sing. He was great. "Especially the part. Let this boy die a man, ""

For all of my enthusiasm I dont think he be safe tomorrow...but not because of his lace of talent...just the others are more popular. But can you imagine him singing that particular song on his night off.

And you know what...he may getted voted off...but I will be first in line to buy his CD



Aletha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom in ATL said...

Dude -

I go away for a few hours, come back, and it's like Ali-Frazier in here!

50 bucks says Music Snob is JohnnieFab (Don't make me collect from Phil). I'll double down and say Music Snob has not heard your music outside of AI and the Know video. If you're out there Snob - prove me wrong.

I listen to alot of different bands and styles of music and I'm proud to count HPF and Mr. Sligh as one of my favorites. TACOSB is one of the more creative, diverse albums I've come across in quite a while.

As for Radiohead - I think you're both nuts. Outside of "Let Down" -I really don't get the attraction. But to each his own. I just wish Snob and others would "Take a Chance" and listen to Sligh before trashing the guy's work.

Peace -

Tom in ATL

ChrisSligh said...

Sorry for the mis-spelling of the word weird....I thought I corrected all of them, but I guess not...oh well.

Anyway, to the person who asked for some examples of stuff that sounded like crap...that was a strong statement that was referring mostly to certain indie type rock bands who go for lo-fi type recording quality. Bright Eyes for instance...I love their music but I can't get past their crappy recordings to get to the meat of the music. Radiohead, a lot of times is so distorted and chaotic that it's hard to even find a song in there...it just seems like noise (which I get is their point, I just personally don't care for it). Sounds like crap was not an implication or denial of certain band's skills, just a bold statement (maybe a little too bold) meant to grab attention (and it did).


Tawny said...

Wow, I definitely don't agree with any part of that person's opinion of HPF. But as the saying goes, opinions are like @$$holes, everyone has one! This was another great blog entry from you. :) You write great pop songs from everything I've heard/seen from you thus far. I've said it before and I'll say it again.. keep doing what you love and I'll keep loving what you do!

P.S-Can't wait to see you on opening night of the AI tour July 6th in South FL!

Love & Hugs,

brooksie said...

Today I was downloading some music (I usually do it from the walmart site) and looked for your name and the name of your band -- of course you weren't there (yet!) So I wrote them an email telling them who you were (just off Idol)that Amazon and some Best Buys were selling your CD - I told them about your CD with your band and asked if they would check into making it available...

What if everyone fan that reads this does the same thing -- it might be idealistic for me to think it is that simple - but hey, why not let them know there are people out there that can bring them some sales...

What do you think - Chris?

ChrisSligh said...


That's a really good idea...why don't you put the url here and whoever finds this can email them.


Anonymous said...

So ..... is Phil hot, or is he HOT?! What an AMAZING performance tonight. Bon Jovi week ROCKED!!! And, Blake ... well, he just plain blew me away. I bet you had a huge smile on your face as you watched the show tonight.

Peace out.

Anonymous said...

I hope you blog about your friends on Idol again! Tonight was awesome!

Ronni said...

Fantastic Chris. I know that I personally was used to co-writing... I came up with a lot of lyrics and had a great friend that would hear the melody line, then we'd figure out the rhythm, then would come an awesome bass line... etc... but it almost always started with us wanting to tell a story, or send a message... and our songs always did. Granted the band is gone now (years later, I'm a bit older than you) and those songs and lyrics still stand, but the melodies need redone to this age... they definitely sound 80's. lol.

I find myself now, writing solo, and well, most of my stuff is "worship" stuff, and I find that I "hear" the songs during intimate times alone... the last song I "heard" came in less than 20 minutes, the entire thing, two verses, great hook, bridge... memorable chorus... and after playing it one time, I've got people wanting me to lay this down... anymore I tell people, I don't write the songs... I hear God sing them to me.

Just my odd perspective.. :) Great read man.

Carrie said...


^^ That would have been SO much better than Jordin's performance was tonight. Sorry to say! Then you and Blake would have done my two favorite songs.

IknowIam said...

Ok strange place to post this (and off topic) but I need to get it off my chest.

My brother, for WHATEVER reason, was watching your "Endless Love" rendition about 3 hours ago on youtube. I was close by and I listened to it. I got really pissed just then because you freaking got voted off the show. Now, I realize that was quite a while ago but still. A person can still be mad about that right? Even after that span of time?
I thought that was your best performance by the way.

Sorry for being off topic there. It's not my style.

brooksie said...

Hey everyone - if you read my earlier comment, this is a follow-up after hearing back from Chris. Anyway, I have an idea. I contact Walmart downloads to see if they had music from Chris or his band - and as of this time they do not -- so I wrote them an email suggesting that they add his music. I told them about Chris just coming off of Idol and that he already has a great CD selling on Amazon and some Best Buy stores. I thought that if each of us wrote a similar email that they might check out Chris' music.

Chris replied and suggested that I give the URL to the site and here it is -- this is exciting!

help@walmart.com is where I sent my email.

Thanks friends -
A fan in Arizona

Ash Greyson said...

Art versus commerce, the age old debate. I think you have a unique and astute position here as you are an artist that aspires to be in the business end eventually. I did an interview with The Pop Syndicate about my first doc and they asked me "As an artist how do you deal with a studio’s vision versus your own vision?" and I replied, "I think there should be a balance. I think the studio should make sure your “art” remains marketable without compromising. This is why the studios should have other ARTISTS, not business people in these roles. I don’t hold the artist blameless, there are those who want to make their “art” in such a way that it is not approachable at all. That is fine but you have no business with a studio, label, etc. Go paint your paintings and sell them at the flea market."

Having just got the HPF record I think "Know" is the most marketable song, hence, a single. There is nothing wrong with being mainstream. Not everyone, actually very few people, want to live in Igloo's. Those who do prolly pass houses in the 'burbs and rail on the great Igloo life they are being deprived of...

ash =o)

TimeYUPunishMe said...

Hey Chris,

Do you know the band HINDER? www.hinderonline.com....If you do, what do you think of them?

Have a nice day.


Karma Police said...

I agree with Music Snob's post. I have nothing against your music, but I don't like that you dismiss experimental music as "unmarketable" and "weird." I get that you don't dig it, but there are a lot of us who do. I'm a Radiohead fan who loves ALL their albums (and I do listen to them over and over again), and Music Snob is right: their more experimental albums "Kid A" and "Amnesiac" were actually commercially successful despite their radically different sound. Not only that, but they were critical successes. Hell, "Kid A" was even in Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.

I find it ironic that you write a lengthy blog post rebutting JohnnyFab's comment about your "faux-rock," and yet in the same post you write similarly offensive comments about experimental music. Learn to respect other people's opinions before you state your own, because not everyone agrees with you and the "record executives" you speak of. Musical taste varies from person to person.

Artistic integrity, to me, is writing songs you truly believe to be great, not songs you think other people will dig. For all I know, a pop song like "Know" and an art rock song like "Paranoid Android" may even have the same level of artistic integrity. That doesn't mean that everyone's going to see your song the same way. But don't defend your songs by saying experimental rock is "weird" and "unmarketable." It is its own thing, and it actually does have appeal, because 16 years after Radiohead's inception, the band is still selling albums and is still heralded by many critics and fans as one of the greatest and most innovative rock bands of our generation. Just because you don't dig it doesn't mean it sucks or it won't sell, the same way that "Know" isn't totally devoid of artistic integrity just because JohnnyFab doesn't think it does.

You have a right to speak your mind, but so does JohnnyFab, so does Music Snob, and so do I. I think Radiohead's music -- "weird" stuff included -- is fantastic, so your opinion of it will not matter to me, because after I click "Publish your comment," I'm going right back to listening to "Karma Police" and "Electioneering" and waiting for their 2007 album to come out. Similarly, you should just keep on making music you love, and don't waste time writing about every opinion you don't agree with, because if you like what you're making, none of it will matter one bit.

Jenn K. said...

Johnny Cash actually wrote a lot of his own songs at a time that wasn't yet the norm...that whole group of early Sundance artists tended to cover each others' stuff and/or write for each other too. (Before the Beatles!) =^)

ChrisSligh said...

Karma Police, are you serious?! Did you actually read my post! I love the same music that you love! Seriously, people, read what I say! Please! I love the music that I supposedly am dissing. I am explaining why I choose to take a little bit of a different road with my personal music. And I'm explaining why I still believe it is art.

People, read what I write, please.


ChrisSligh said...


You'll notice I did say that they were one of the first to do it...Buddy Holly was actually one of the Beatles early influences...he wrote his own stuff.


Thomas said...

Speaking of "artistic integrity" did you check out Blake's performance last night on Idol? I thought it was the best of the night and the most original Idol performance ever. He has a lot of talent in creating new renditions to songs and using other elements than just parroting back the original.

I think singing can only get you so far. The world is FULL of great singers. But if you can't re-arrange melodies, make it fresh, and perform it well, then it just becomes, well, boring. People want more dynamics in songs, and not necessarily hearing a particular artist copy the performance of a previous artist; it has already been done. Any thoughts, Chris?

Anonymous said...

Chris, you gotta make a blog about American Idol last night! Are you as outraged as the rest of America for what Simon said to Phil? Oh my word! That was like a criticism overload. I was so sad for the show. What a low level to stoop to. Phil did an excellent job and I am praying that America saved him!

Anonymous said...

It was interesting to read your post on how you write songs. My husband is singing "The Communion Song" this week. I'd love to know how this song came together and how the Lord worked it with you.

Anonymous said...

As I was driving home last night, my thoughts strayed to this blog...then it hit me...it appears blogs are like lyrics...people that read them and interpret them the way they want to...It appears people try to read way too much into what you are saying and feel they must bring on a debate. Music Snob & Karma Police come to mind...they are convinced you don't like RadioHead....I didn't get that from your post at all....

I used to be a Music Snob...I was a record store employee...laughing at what the customers purchased once they left...but now, I could give two craps what people listen to...if it gets you off, then more power to ya....

Everybody's CD/MP3 collection is questionable....I have an eclectic collection and when somebody looks though it,some always has to say 'what the f is this?' (as they hold up a Harry Connick Jr cd)etc...

rawk on, chris

TimeYUPunishMe said...

Speaking of Buddy Holly, I think he's a good composer but just a mediocre singer. Those who covered his songs (Linda Ronstadt, Don McLean(a superb songwriter himself), Peter & Gordon, etc.) are better singers.

Still, he's an influence to many artists.


cynrama said...

OMG people....this is a personal blog where one would give their personal opinion! Geez, what's wrong with you people? And who cares how he spells the word wierd? You got the point didn't you? So let it go. I hate it when people feel like they have to find something wrong with everything. Do you really have to nit pick at every single word and at times even taking them out of context? I don't get it.....

vivian from missouri said...

really enjoyed the explanation of the process you go through--we are a musical family and several of my sons are in bands and play fairly frequently in the St. Louis/Kansas City/CHicago area---do I like all of their music--no, not all of it but I appreciate the process and the talent involved. I find it so strange when someone seems compelled to be negative when there is really no reason for it---if you don't like it then don't listen and don't buy it--there are some sad people around but we all know that. I had never encountered whatever it is that Blake does but I must say he really blew me away last night---his performance was wonderful and i was surprised that he received a positive reaction since all the judges hadn't liked it the week you and several of the other guys played with the genre you were given. I have found something to like in a lot of music that i would never listen to otherwise though I pretty much am a child of the 60's.

Anonymous said...

Chris, you have chutzpah.( And you like fallout) That's a compliment in our family.We can't imagine life without it. You would not have come as far as you have without it.You will even need to crank it up a notch to play with the big dogs. This blog is a good forum to develop it.Work on losing the defensiveness, and fine tuning the chutzpah.

Karma Police said...

Of course I read your post. Yes, you did say that you like Radiohead. It "whets your appetite," cool. I get it. It's just that my brow furrowed a bit at some of the other things you said, like:

"But as their albums have gotten weirder and weirder, fewer and fewer people listen to them."

It's statistically incorrect. Check the sales. It was actually "Kid A" that propelled them to global fame. And...

"Do you have to make music that sounds like crap in order to have artistic credibility and intergrity?"

If you really do like the same "Kid A" music that I do, which is heralded by critics for its "artistic integrity," then transitively, you're inferring that the more Radiohead strays from its radio-friendly Pablo Honey-era sound, the crappier their music sounds. Which is where I take offense.

See, what I thought you meant by that statement in particular is, all music considered to have been made with "artistic integrity" sounds like crap. Which: no, it doesn't! There is a lot of great, original stuff, a considerable amount of which is wildly popular. Like the Beatles, as you mentioned. But:

"Do I want to make experimental stuff that wil never sell, but will make me very happy? Or do I want to make a living doing music and still create great art?"

If it's truly great art, and it makes you happy, of course it will sell. In fact, I think "Know" sounds good. And not all stuff has to be experimental to not fall into the much-derided faux-rock genre.

Maybe you misunderstood me. I'm not putting you down for slamming post-"OK Computer" Radiohead. I just happen to disagree with your notion that all "experimental" music is done with "artistic integrity" and isn't marketable (you did say "will never sell") and that all marketable music is generic and cookie-cutter. I like a lot of simple songs too. I dig Nickelback; I think the band retains its artistic integrity despite being the poster boys for corporate rock. Because they are what they are, and they won't change their music to sound less cheeseball. I respect that.

But defending yourself and your music by saying that "Amnesiac" is not as marketable as "The Bends" isn't the way to go, in my opinion. It gives people the notion that you have to sacrifice certain aspects of your music to make something that a lot of people will like. If that was the case, Bjork, who is a walking definition of "experimental" and "weird," would not have been such a success. The White Stripes would not be as popular, either. But people like them precisely because they're different. It's the knock-off artists and faux-rock bands that end up being one-hit wonders. And if popular music always came at the cost of one's artistic integrity, Eric Clapton would not be as heralded an artist as he is. Some of his songs fall within the pop spectrum, but he is still revered by many.

Great musicians are unapologetic. They don't tweak their sounds to become more (or for that matter, less) radio friendly.

If I misunderstood your post, my bad. But I would like you to clarify what you meant by the statements from your post that I included here, if you honestly weren't implying that all experimental stuff isn't marketable. Thanks.


ChrisSligh said...

Karma Police,

thanks so much for taking the time to repost...I wasn't trying to be disrespectful to you or your post. And maybe I misunderstood your post.

Sorry. Let me explain a little more.

I explained the "sounds like crap" thing a few comments up. It was probably too bold a statement, but basically I was talking about records that specifically under-produce (I used the example of Bright Eyes - and White Stripes could be an example) - like producing a record on 4-track cassette tape and the production value is crappy - early Beatles records sound better. And it's not that I don't understand the purpose - I just personally don't like music that sounds like I could've done it in my basement with a Fisher Price tape recorder. However, I guess I should've been more gracious - in that you are correct.

However, using words like "unmarketable" is me in no way trashing the records. I would count Muse and MuteMath as two bands that are literally my favorite bands but they are "unmarketable" in most record label's eyes...in other words, compared to Matchbox20 or Maroon 5, those bands are "unmarketable". Do they still sell records? Yes - enough to keep them full-time musicians, and obviously Muse has a huge worldwide following (I think unmarketable is more a term for the U.S. than anywhere else honestly). So, they are not unmarketable in the sense of Sucky Bar Band that plays every Wednesday night at your local bar. So, I think that that may be part of our misunderstanding is defining our terms.

I am using the word unmarketable and the word weird in comparison to what is popular music of our day. Neither one of those things really describes what those bands are to me because I listen to them consistently so they aren't really, by definition, weird to me anymore (though to the virgin listener, they would probably call OK Computer weird), and I shelled out money for every Muse record, both MuteMath records, every Sigur Ros record and every Radiohead record - so somehow they were deemed marketable by me (the consumer) I mean, I bought their album.

But my comments were more for the uninitiated than anything else. But it is actually fun to have a conversation with someone who knows this music because it's interesting how people think. So, really, honestly, thank you for the conversation.

You made this point here:

"But defending yourself and your music by saying that "Amnesiac" is not as marketable as "The Bends" isn't the way to go, in my opinion. It gives people the notion that you have to sacrifice certain aspects of your music to make something that a lot of people will like."

I agree with you completely. You'll notice in the original post that I said that I write what comes to my heart - marketability and "weirdness" don't come to mind as I write...I'm not that smart nor am I that good - I just write the best that I can and some songs are good and some songs are crap. What I feel like my place in the music world is this: I want to write great songs and if they lend themselves to radiohead or Muse or Beatle's like production then I'll produce the songs in a "weird" fashion. If the song is meant to sound like Nickelback then I'll sound like NIckelback (I don't think I've ever written a Nickelback sounding song, but I used that since you brought them up). I think that sometimes it 'feels" like artists try so hard to be hip and artsy that they forget about the songs. Honestly, sometimes, Radiohead feels that way - I can't find the song underneath all the strange effects and white noise. But I still love them as artists. I want to be an artist and songwriter who always stays true to the song.

And as I said before, if I fail, I failed trying to do something noble.

Thanks for the conversation...I look forward to more of it.


Anonymous said...

Chris, did you see Phil last night? He was incredible! His voice just blows the other guys away. He's in another league, vocally. Why is Simon trying to sand-bag him? It's obvious they want him gone. Phil is the only singer to NEVER get the "pimp spot" to close the show. He deserved it last night. The favoritism and judge manipulation is irritating.

IknowIam said...

Karma Police needs to learn to read and quote other's in context. If you don't do those things, then there is no point to even stating your opinion. Karma Police has lost all credability.

I completely understand his opinion. But there's no point in writing a long and thought out comment when he take all that is said out of context. Because at that point, it's simply obnoxious.

jason in mb said...

Chris...i know this is off topic, but i went to best buy today in Myrtle Beach...either the guy that helped me had no clue or they didnt have the album...what genre is it lable under there...is it in every BB in SC...

Brade said...

great insight into the music-making process! in the end, I think most of the good experimental bands (like beatles or radiohead) become that way because it is genuinely the direction they have progressed. some artists get bored staying with the same style, some don't. I for one am still loving the fact that "OK Computer" and "Kid A" exist as they do...

Nique's Nana said...

Chris, I'm so excited. AI has published their AI 2007 Tour dates. I will see you in San Diego on July 19!!!! I would really love to meet you and possibly get a picture taken with you (yeah, me and a thousand other people). Anyway, I'll get to see you sing live.

Carrie said...

Reading all the comments.


Anonymous said...

Nothing to defend, Chris.

Talking to a crowd, any opinion you offer will offend someone. Saying "Puppies are cute" will get you angry letters from the Kitten Crowd.

In this case, popular music probably offends people who take pride in their musical eliteness. Pride builds itself up by tearing down others. So it goes.

I say, do it the way you think it should be done, and know that justifying it'll be a waste of keystrokes for certain folk.

I, for one, think you're doing swell.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the post regarding Phil last night. BOO Simon. Was he even watching or hearing what I did or the crowds? In truth, he did get nice comments from P and R... but I agree Simon sandbagged him. It doesnt offend me if Simon has negative comments about a bad performance, but I really believe he trashed Phil's good performance to manipulate the voting audience. It just irrates me. Last night Simon did his best to be manipulate the voters. WhY? To scare Phil fans into voting more or to turn votes away from PHil? I wish he would just say what he honestly thinks and leave it at that.

Cathy Storms said...

Chris~Man you guys are going to be busy on the tour. It looks like its non stop for 4 months. You better get alot of rest now. Hope to see you in either San Diego or Anaheim..maybe both!!

steve-o-meter said...

The tour is coming to St. Louis on my wedding anniversary!!

Considering the amazing timing I've had with the fansite...this is just a perfect fit.

VERY excited!!

Anonymous said...

I REALLY dislike people who tell me that I don't like their music because I haven't listened to it enough or that I don't 'understand' it. To me music is simply an enjoyable part of life and I do not wish to spend my time repeatedly listening to sounds I don't like in order to comprehend some 'message' the artist is trying to convey. If you like to do that - fine! Spend your life doing what you enjoy... but don't tell me that what I listen to is bad because it is popular and mainstream and - HEAVEN FORBID! - makes money.

Marleybone said...

I sent a friend of mine who plays guitar, to your site and he emailed me this morning.

"Looked at the site last night, I have such a respect for that kind of talent. I do disagree with him about his reference to Tin Pan Alley in New York back in the 60's. Some of the best written music ever came from there."

As it turns out music is as debatable and controversial as politics and religion. And understandably so. It's all very personal, for reasons too many to enumerate. And we defend our bands and the songs they sing, with fierce loyalty!

And speaking of fierce loyalty - the AI tour comes to Philly on September 7. Can't wait to see Chris Sligh rock!

NCFriend said...

(Chris, please edit or delete if you want to!)

wowie.... I enjoyed reading this blog and the fallout! Valid points have been made, but personal taste and perspective will always shade peoples words.

Most people realize everyone has their own taste in music enough to recognize that there's room for ALL kinds of styles and methods.

Then there are some who enjoy being a music "snob" and placing value on their particular style above all others. How conceited. (or concieted.. you put the e.... where ever you want to ;-) )...

These types are in all the creative arts.. the literature snobs who turn their nose up at anything that's been "translated", or the art snobs who turn their nose up at everything that's not vulgar. The independent movie makers who think they have to have drugs or the word F__k or G--D--n in every other sentence. If you dont do it "THIS" way you must not be a "TRUE ARTIST".

People who try to define these things and take pleasure in tearing others down because they dont fit into their ideas of how artist should be, are narrowminded and foolish. Basically these people are saying we should all be as 'artistic' as they are... and so they are creating a huge oxymoron: "Everyone should be like us because we're DIFFERENT"... yea that makes sense---NOT!

Thank God in Heaven none of us are all alike and we dont have to all be herded into the same way of thinking and the say taste in music or art.

If you dont like HPF's style of music, then don't listen... you are missing so much, but that's your loss.

I'm not saying you're not entitled to your opinion. Have your opinion... but if you post them on a public site or a personal blog of that artist you're blasting, then dont be all "how dare you"... He's entitled to have them just the same as you are. As I recall, he never begrudged you from having your own opinion, he just responded with his reasoning and personal opinions, and hopefully a little enlightenment, if you read it all the way through.

::gets down off soapbox::

Anonymous said...

NOOOOOOOO! Phil is gone. Everyone I know is shocked. He was excellent last night. But Simon's comments killed him. You're right that American listens to Simon. He has a lot of influence. He never liked Phil. He wasn't a "chosen one". Oh well. Please give Phil our love and best wishes. He and his wife seem like lovely people.

Karma Police said...

Okay, I think I get you now. You made some pretty good points as well, and thank you, too, for taking the time to explain to me what you meant. I hope you keep staying true to yourself when writing music.

Rock on!

- K.P.

Amy said...

My reaction to "JohnnieFab"'s comment and your response to it was to think about my iTunes review of Elliott Yamin's debut album.

From reading iTunes, I can tell he has a large and devoted fanbase of people who really think he's wonderful. I HATED his album. I wrote in and said it was the audio equivalent of plain tofu. I'm sure all his fans wouldn't get why I thought that.

I see it simply as MY reaction to Yamin's music. It's actually a back-handed compliment, I think, that your music aroused such ire. That guy cared enough about your music to write a review, even if it was a negative one. Your music impacted him.

I guess you'll have lovers and haters, and hopefully much more of the former! :)

Anonymous said...

I thought I'd take this comment by comment, Chris.

Radiohead is one of the most inventive, chance-taking and experimental bands of our time, maybe of all time. But as their albums have gotten weirder and weirder, fewer and fewer people listen to them.
Their last 3 albums (Kid A, Amnesiac, and Hail to the Thief) have opened and #1, #2, and #3 on the Billboard charts, respectively. But this downward trend on the charts has not reflected declining first week sales. Their #3 debut outsold their #1 debut by over 100,000 albums. They have been gaining fans ever since they got "weird" (The Bends debuted at #200 and OK Computer at #21). In 1998 one could catch them in a theatre that held little over 2000 people. Now they easily sell out amphitheatres that hold 35,000. So your reasoning here is just plain fallacious. Clearly there is a large audience out there that is *looking* for a band to take risks. Even Thom Yorke's The Eraser debuted at #2. Yes, there is a marked lack of radio airplay, but I think this has very little to do with there not being a willing audience, and everything to do with the homogenization of radio stations by corporations like Clear Channel.

The composer was, in return, paid handsomely for his efforts, but if he didn't play the political system, many times great composers would end up penniless and dying young (i.e., Mozart).
This is true, but I'm not sure what your point is. Is your point that he should have given in and ignored his muse? But he didn't. And the music he created in those times is some of the greatest and most beloved in history. He chose the music in his head and in his heart over his well-being. A foolish choice? Perhaps. But the face of musical history would surely be changed if he had decided otherwise.

Soon, pop music (short for popular music) was jazz and off-shoots of jazz, and the revolutionaries like Miles Davis then became more and more experimental in response to jazz now being the pop music of the day.
But the muse is not static. You describe Miles Davis as if he were childish, a contrarian. As if he experimented because jazz became popular and he didn't want to be like all the other kids on the playground. But he was a composer. He was always going to be developing and building and changing, like all other true composers. This is pretty much a given for all composers throughout history. They are searchers, searching for new sounds and structures. It is not choice, it is not contrarianism; it is hunger, pure and unrelenting.

The Beatles gave life to a whole lineage of bands that seem to lose the song and focus on the experiment - Pink Floyd (though I love a lot of their stuff, it sometimes is hard to find the song) on down to Radiohead. And somehow, this music is considered artful while a band who writes hooks is not artful.
I think it is strange that you seem to divide song and sound, as if they are not inextricably intertwined. Everything, from writing a song with just acoustic guitar, to writing a song that features a full orchestra or synthesized textures, is an aesthetic choice that is just as much a part of the composition/song as anything else. If you find it difficult to "find the song", perhaps it is because you define "song" very narrowly. And who is this strawman you have constructed that apparently doesn't find "band[s] who write hooks" artful? I'd say any study of the most critically lauded albums of the past 10 years would prove that to be blatantly untrue. Maybe it helps you to sleep at night to think anyone who disses your band is some sort of anti-mainstream elitist that just doesn't appreciate your mad hook-writing skillz. Has it ever occurred to you that maybe they just don't think your songs are any good? Don't find them hooky or interesting or memorable? I'll refrain from my own opinion on your music, because I've only heard a few songs here and there.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love experimental music: I listen to Radiohead on a regular basis, I listen to Sigur Ros a lot, bands like Muse and Mutemath and Starsailor have littered my CD player for years. I love the experimental and off-the-wall, not-so-marketable stuff.
I'm curious about your definition of experimental and "off-the-wall", by the way. You are aware that, at best (and with Muse, Mute Math, and Starsailor, not at all), these bands are on the fringes of the pop mainstream, right? This isn't meant to insult their work, but I just want to make sure that you are aware that there is a world of music out there that exists entirely outside of the mainstream infrastructure, and these bands are not it.

I think that sometimes it 'feels" like artists try so hard to be hip and artsy that they forget about the songs. Honestly, sometimes, Radiohead feels that way - I can't find the song underneath all the strange effects and white noise.
See, here, this is when you become very hard to take seriously. You keep saying you love Radiohead or music that takes risks, but I don't think you actually do. While you personally may not like the direction Radiohead sometimes take their songs, to put their experimentations down to pretense or an attempt to be "hip and artsy" is really insulting to them and quite presumptive on your part. You seem to think everyone has the same goals or taste in music that you do, and it's just not true. Full disclosure, but I know Radiohead. I've talked about music with them frequently. You could not meet a group of people more passionate or excited about the art of making music. And what to you is "strange effects and white noise" is them really having fun, exploring sound, discovering new ways of creating music that excites them and that they love. This is not a pose or an attempt to be hip. In fact, their music is far more accessible than the music they listen to for pleasure. Also, their guitarist, Jonny Greenwood, is a very talented classical composer who has been composing pieces very far outside the mainstream for the past decade. This is music that gets him very little press or notice, yet he makes it because he loves it, because he wants to explore. Because he is a composer.

Honestly, I do feel like it's people with your dismissive attitude towards experimentation (and yes, you'll argue "But I like Radiohead! Read what I'm saying! I really love them! WAAAAAAAAH", but you seem to dismiss taking risks as a mere pose or whim regardless) that have discouraged many a band from stepping outside of the box for fear of being called indulgent or posers or whatever the insult of the week is.

Even aside from all this, I have to say that you also seem dismissive of many other kinds of music that falls outside your comfort zone. You place a very high emphasis on the concept of "authenticity" and seem focused almost exclusively upon a certain kind of rock music (read: white guys with guitars) as the only true or worthy form of music. But there is much of worth to be found outside that narrow range. Even in supposedly "manufactured" pop music, in disco/dance, in hip hop, etc.

I think it might be helpful to you to read about rockism and why it's such an unnecessarily limiting point of view, because you practically embody it.

- Erin

ChrisSligh said...


Though I disagree with almost every one of your statements when you talk about my personal feelings about music, I have to say that you raise incredibly interesting points. And it is well-written.

A couple of things without defending my own views - I've done that enough in this thread and if you still think I don't like the bands, thenyou won't get it no matter how much I argue. I have said that Radiohead's albums have been less and less successful - I should have clarified...they have debuted well because the band has a cult following and a strong one at that, but the albums have subsequently not sold as may copies as the last. Total copies is what I meant by successful. Obviously success can be measured in many different ways. I should have clarified.

I haven't had the chance to sit down with Radiohead, but I hope that my career affords me the chance. I would love to sit down and learn. I have tremendous amounts of respect for them as musicians, and I also know that perhaps if I could understand the mindset a little behind what they do it would help me understand the music more. I've read interviews but that doesn't give the same "disclosure" that speaking with someone about music brings.

I am truly sorry if it came across as dismissive. As I've said several times on this blog in general, words can be interpreted differently so one does have to be careful. I feel as though I try to be the opposite of dismissive. Do I have a comfort zone? Sure I do. 2 years ago, the bands we're talking about now were hard for me to understand, period, and not only that they were hard for me appreciate. Now, I can listen to a lot of music and I may not "like" it but I can appreciate it or respect it. To be dismissive is to be disrespectful. I think I have never been disrespectful to Radiohead...but again words can be taken in different ways.

Anyway, thanks so much for an intelligent response. I can tell you know and love what you're talking about. I hope someday you and I can sit down and talk about music and you can see how much I want to make great art and figure out new ways to make great music and things that I love.

But at the same time, there IS a pretense that I have seen coming from Thom especially in interviews and I know I've felt it from a lot of people who love and dig more experimental music that says if you like pop music then you can't be an artists - and that's what I think is crap. Great art is great art no matter how experimental or how pop it is. If it is done well and feels fresh then it is good art. That's what my ramblings meant to put across.


Anonymous said...

A couple of things without defending my own views - I've done that enough in this thread and if you still think I don't like the bands, thenyou won't get it no matter how much I argue.
You may well like them and listen to them, I didn't argue that you don't. But you seem to have issues with their aesthetic choices, in that you seem to believe they are inauthentic and based on pretense, and in that you feel it somehow obscures the pure songwriting (as if there were such a thing). I think many musicians, including myself, are more texture/timbre-oriented than you are, perhaps. And that's fine, it's just worth realizing that most bands aren't sitting around with acoustic guitars, writing songs, and then deciding to suddenly make them "artsy and hip" by frosting on some "cool" production (of course, there are probably a few, but I doubt they are the majority).

I am truly sorry if it came across as dismissive. As I've said several times on this blog in general, words can be interpreted differently so one does have to be careful. I feel as though I try to be the opposite of dismissive. Do I have a comfort zone? Sure I do. 2 years ago, the bands we're talking about now were hard for me to understand, period, and not only that they were hard for me appreciate. Now, I can listen to a lot of music and I may not "like" it but I can appreciate it or respect it. To be dismissive is to be disrespectful. I think I have never been disrespectful to Radiohead...but again words can be taken in different ways.
I think what appears dismissive is that you seem to think they are working from a different mindset than you are. That they aren't making music the way they are because they love it, but because they are striving for a particular reputation among the cognoscenti. I think that's really unfair. They may approach music from a different perspective, but there is no less love. They just have different influences, different musical loves. 20th century classical, academic electronic compositions, IDM, post-punk, jazz, reggae, soul... That's what fills their collections and that's what influences and excites them. Everyone ends up sounding like the things they love in some respect. It doesn't mean they are inherently good or above criticism, but I do think impugning their motives just because you have different priorities than they do is uncalled for.

Anyway, thanks so much for an intelligent response. I can tell you know and love what you're talking about. I hope someday you and I can sit down and talk about music and you can see how much I want to make great art and figure out new ways to make great music and things that I love.
I'd be happy to share music or knowledge with you if you are interested. I'm always interested in hearing another perspective on music, and in sharing the music that I love and that inspires me.

But at the same time, there IS a pretense that I have seen coming from Thom especially in interviews and I know I've felt it from a lot of people who love and dig more experimental music that says if you like pop music then you can't be an artists - and that's what I think is crap. Great art is great art no matter how experimental or how pop it is. If it is done well and feels fresh then it is good art. That's what my ramblings meant to put across.
I'm curious about what you think is coming across as pretense in Thom's interviews. Are you sure that you're not taking it too personally out of insecurity? I mean, having strong opinions alone is not pretense. He loves and has praise for many pop artists that I've heard. Everything from Destiny's Child to one of the recent winners of Fame Academy (a show that is very similar to American Idol). I mean, sure, he may not have much time for Coldplay, but that's his right. I'm sure you also have strong opinions about a variety of bands and genres of music. Everyone has their own personal set of standards, and it's not pretense unless those standards are settled upon dishonestly in an attempt to appear to be something one is not.

- Erin

Anonymous said...


My email is quicksilver_shapeshifter@yahoo.com if you want to talk about music.

- Erin

rosalee said...

Erin, you seem quite angry. But, Chris is entitled to his opinion, just as you are entitled to yours.

Allison K said...

I like the way you write, Chris. And the content of your writing show you are a questioning person. You taught me a bit about your process of writing a song, and how you can look at place in the scheme of things.

nan said...

I have missed having music as a part of my daily life! Wow, first Mutmath, now Radiohead (loved A WOLF AT THE DOOR. HAPPIER FITTER not so much!) I can't wait to explore both bands more. Any more suggestions?

bmorebamma said...

it's very interesting to see how your put it together. btw i hear that in order to remember the lyrics to a song there is a hook ,as a song writer is that imporant to you???

Anonymous said...

Um, get over yourself?

Kthanks, bye.

ChrisSligh said...


I promise to try and get over myself. I'm kinda chubby though so it may be tough.


RobVeith said...

My old music theory teacher used to say, "When people say they don't know much about music but they know what they like, they're wrong. They really like what they know."

We've reached a point in the US where there are little more than 100 songs being played on the radio at any given time. To be a big hit (one of the 100) in a particular airplay market, a song has to have all the edges smoothed off. And by edges, I don't just mean lo fi production, but also many regional nuances, unusual harmonies, strange rhythms, anything that, frankly, doesn't sound like the other 99 songs. Creating a rotating library of 100 similarly sounding songs leads to a larger population who, when they "like what they know," know a much smaller body of work. There's a lot of folks who find this unfortunate, especially when we know absolutely brilliant artists who labor in obscurity because they aren't composing "the flavor of the month." To a lot of folks, it seems like it didn't use to be like this. Like, wasn't there a time when Jimi Hendrix shared radio time with Cat Stevens? Or something like that.

I think it's unfortunate that you feel attacked because of the style of music you play. You have nothing if not integrity, as you've shown in your blog.

Anyway, that's more than I set out to write and less than I wanted to say.


(PS: Neil Diamond wrote kick a-- songs back in his early years. Nobody could seem to say so much using so few words and disguise it as so much ordinary pop music.)

bmorebamma said...

lmao @ your comeback to the anonymous poster above ,geez what a bunch of cowards.

gdahimself said...

To Chris,
From GDA

The Brill Building song writers (Tin Pan Alley if you wish) supplied song for people who could sing and perform but didn’t, couldn’t and maybe shouldn’t write their own songs. Some of these people wrote songs for other people like there are professional musicians who do studio work, they weren’t interested in performing, not good at singing and performing, had not yet become successful or wrote more songs than they needed.
People who worked out of the Brill Building included: Neil Diamond, Carole King who wrote with her then husband Gerry Goffin, Carole Bayer, Neil Sedaka, Cynthia Weill, Barry Mann, and Ellie Greenwich. Almost all these people at some point recorded and released records.

With more people performing their own songs and demand was down The Monkees particularly early on was a boom. They especially used the songs of Gerry Goffin & Carole King, who wrote a lot of hits such as “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” & “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman”.

The Beatles continued doing what many of their favorite recording artists were doing regarding writing many of the songs they performed and recorded, which early on George Martin challenged when looking for a strong song that would make a good single(45).
But with the except of Elvis; Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Arthur Alexander, Larry Williams and others were recording their own songs. They had more latitude because they were usually signed to smaller record companies, and if successful, when they signed with a major were usually allowed to continue. Small companies were looking make money, while the major labels were looking for hits, so they tended to micromanage everything.

A sidebar moment: Arthur Alexander wrote “Anna (go to him)” which both Beatles and the Rolling Stones recorded, and “Burning Love” which Elvis Presley had a hit with. Elvis’ recording is a much better performance. Just because you write song doesn’t necessarily mean you record the best performance.
Larry Williams wrote “Bad Boy’ which the Beatles recorded. I am assuming with the first three that there is at least name recognition.

From various articles and interviews I have read over the years, The Beatles were always aware of what other people were doing so they were as influenced as they were influencing. They often sought out the company of other musicians, sometimes for reasons more than social. I recently heard a radio interview with Donovan talking about Paul McCartney showing up at his house unannounced asking for help to finish writing “Yellow Submarine” (a very minor rewrite of one line), then played a song that later became “Eleanor Rigby” but at this point had a completely different set of lyrics.
George Harrison was friendly with Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan & Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, could you imagine him not talking about guitars and songwriting with them.

When they first met Bob Dylan he told them he liked their work but comment that their lyrics didn’t say anything which resulted in the lyric content change first heard on the album “Rubber Soul” and the single “Nowhere Man“.
The other side is Dylan went to a Beatle performance and was impressed that the next day rented electric instruments and started rehearsing with this band.

On the production side, George Martin commented that they were always curious and frequently questioned him about new instruments they may of seen someone play on television or how do something they had conceived but didn’t know to record.

"Strawberry Fields Forever" is actually two different performances edited together, a fragment of the original performance slowed down and added to the end the second version.
“A Day in the Life” is a John Lennon song with a fragment of an unfinished Paul McCartney song used in the middle, “Woke up, fell out of bed” section.

At the time Paul McCartney released “Tub of War”, in an interview he commented that The Beatles made a point of not repeat themselves.

Pink Floyd’s original lead singer, lead guitarist and main song write was an art school student who tried to import paint concepts into English blues which he called painted sound.

rosalee said...

Gdahimself (Drew):

Yes, some musicians have always written for others, and some for others as well as for themselves. And yes, musicians are often influenced by their peers.

Another neat trip down memory lane!