The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
Why do most musicians/songwriters get worse with age?
Old 16th March 2015
  #1
136358 🎙️
Guest
Why do most musicians/songwriters get worse with age?

There are some exceptions, but I and I'm sure many other people have noticed a general decline in quality of musicians as they get older.

Is there a physical change in the brain or is it more environmental?

Just curious
Old 16th March 2015
  #2
Gear Addict
 
JahRastafariMMA's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by innoverse View Post
There are some exceptions, but I and I'm sure many other people have noticed a general decline in quality of musicians as they get older.

Is there a physical change in the brain or is it more environmental?

Just curious
Depends how u define 'quality'. Ability to write something new? Or just to play the songs like they used to?

Perhaps there aren't ANY exceptions. All suffer from it.

In general, if we are speaking of singers, those who sing in a deeper voice will last longer. But those who were closer to Tenor voice, such as Robert Plant, Paul McCartney, Graham Nash, & Roger Daltry, declined in vocal ability since they're no longer able to sing like they did on the records. The physical ability has declined. But also, many of these people lost essential musical-mates that brought out the best in them. John Bonham isn't there to bring out the best in Page & Plant. So it's also mental, & emotional, & a change in the brain for sure.

Someone such as Eric Burdon, always sang in a much lower voice than those other guys. Eric Burdon was a true exception in Rock. A pure Blues voice that has retained its richness. Eric Clapton is another whose voice was able to adapt to age. Clapton has a little raspiness, which becomes nice with age. There's also a correlation to musical ability & intelligence, & Eric Clapton might be the most intelligent & the most brilliant.

Maybe it's different for instrumentalists, but in 2015, is Jimmy Page any "better" at playing than Robert Plant is? Nope.

But I'm not sure what u mean by "environmental".
Old 16th March 2015
  #3
Gear Addict
 

...is this about performing or writing....?

you can't blame prince, for not perfoming that well anymore....that guy simply killed his hips for us....in years and years of breathtaking shows all over the planet.....this must come to an end at some point...

that he's also not writing on that level he used to back in the good old days is in fact a common thing.....

even the best and most famous of us carry just a certain amount of songs in their hearts in minds....
some even write the same song over and over again and it still takes years to realise....
but at some point, you loose that virginity and you have to face the fact you start to repeat yourself and have nothing left to tell....

the best songs just happen to be within five minutes.....
big part of all talent is the skill to let things just happen....to be able to listen to your innter train of thoughts....
you just can't hold this up forever....
at some point you add the skills of crafting to a certain point.....but once you're not able to surprise youself anymore, the magic moves on.....and never returns....in most cases...
Old 16th March 2015
  #4
Lives for gear
 
apartment dog's Avatar
 

It is; 'In need of a good woman.'
Once the good woman is there (and the butterflies have flown) it is gone.
You can't have both.
If you want a long carreer you can file for divorce and start all over for a couple of times.

BTW standup commedian Tommy Tiernan had a funny bit (in 'Crooked Man') about what married life does to men.
He describes how he once dared and did everything and now he almost starts to cry when he loses sight of her in the supermarket.

Last edited by apartment dog; 16th March 2015 at 10:24 AM..
Old 16th March 2015
  #5
Lives for gear
 
wagtunes's Avatar
I'm certainly no McCartney or Clapton or whoever, but in my case (I'm 57 and have been writing music since 1979) you just run out of ideas. Now I'm starting to have some kind of a resurgence currently. But this may very well be my last fling. If I don't come up with something that has commercial potential now, I probably never will and should just give up. I'll probably never stop writing altogether but anything I write from this point on (with maybe a few exceptions) is going to be derivative of something I've written in the last 36 years.

I mean how many songs (for me it's over 6,000) can one person write?

So I would say this is a very common thing as far as musicians go, especially writers.
Old 16th March 2015
  #6
Depends on who you're talking about. There are a lot of different kind of artists and performers.
I would say for those working in popular music — aging stars of one genre or another — it would be because it just became a job/business after a while. Those who 'made it' don't necessarily have the opportunity to reinvent themselves. If they did they would risk alienating their fan base and ending their 'career' so they keep on pumping out the same old same old...or performing the same old same old.

But there are those composers who never stopped pushing themselves. Frank Zappa, for example, composed some of his most ambitious works at the end of his (too short) life. There are also underground acts who still keep pumping out gems every bit as good as they were doing 20, 30 years ago. I was impressed by post 2000 albums by both The Residents and The Legendary Pink Dots.
For instrumentalists and singers it depends on their health and the physical demands of the material.
Old 16th March 2015
  #7
It's hard to tell what you're talking about musicianship skills or songwriting skills or both. I'm not completely sold on your generalization although I do have to note a certain number of musician/songwriters do tend to become somewhat stale over time. But I also take note of ones that have maintained and improved their creativity as they've gotten older. More than anything I think life experience has a lot to do with it. For example Eric Clapton and Joe Walsh I would argue are now doing some of their best work ever given their latest recording efforts. In both cases these men have survived some very serious life challenges with addictions and loss of loved ones. There's no doubt those sorts of things bring about many new perspectives which gets translated into their music. In many cases musicians that have "made it" and have tended to float along through life after their early successes may have lost some of their energy and passion without anything to challenge them, and it shows up in their music.

I know for myself I underwent some serious life changing events several years ago which made me re-evaluate my life and my values. I'm now 62 years old and there's no doubt I'm writing some of the best material I've ever written and my skills as a guitarist are light years ahead of where I was when I was younger. When the way you've always expressed your emotions and thoughts is through your music and something traumatic happens to change your life, it can't help but come out in your music.
Old 16th March 2015
  #8
In the subject of songwriting, my opinion is that it's simply human psychology...

As teenagers, we may be hyper-creative, but our focus is too disjointed to do serious work.
But in our 20's, we mature and become more focussed. As well, more idealistic. These are prime ingredients for contributing to pop culture.

For those who find success, they carry it into their 30's, and get better at it, more refined.

But as someone said, marriage comes. Family, cars, insurance, taxes, and all of the realities that pull us farther away from our idealistic, introspective selves.

But of course, some teenagers DO have the focus at an early age.
As another said, things can affect your life at a later age that wake up those inspirations and ideas and revive you like new.

...but most of my favourite songwriters got dull in their 40's or shortly thereafter:
Prince
Phil Collins
Sting
Don Henley
Peter Murphy
...and the list could go on...
Old 16th March 2015 | Show parent
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by JahRastafariMMA View Post
But also, many of these people lost essential musical-mates that brought out the best in them. John Bonham isn't there to bring out the best in Page & Plant. So it's also mental, & emotional, & a change in the brain for sure.
Also a huge factor. Pink Floyd is a good example. As a band, they produced some of the most influential albums of our time. After Waters left, PF lost a bit of their edge. But Waters as a solo act never produced anything ground-breaking. Neither did the others in their solo careers.

Some say that Syd Barrett was the genius behind PF. But did his solo albums make a lasting impression?

Band chemistry is another random ingredient.
Old 16th March 2015 | Show parent
  #10
Lives for gear
 
badmark's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by JahRastafariMMA View Post
& a change in the brain for sure.
Yeah, back in the good old days it would have been alcohol + syphilis; nowadays it's cocaine + therapy.

I'm not a huge Malcolm Gladwell fan, but I thought this was an interesting (and encouraging!) article: Late Bloomers - The New Yorker

Galenson did a simple economic analysis, tabulating the prices paid at auction for paintings by Picasso and Cézanne with the ages at which they created those works. A painting done by Picasso in his mid-twenties was worth, he found, an average of four times as much as a painting done in his sixties. For Cézanne, the opposite was true. The paintings he created in his mid-sixties were valued fifteen times as highly as the paintings he created as a young man. The freshness, exuberance, and energy of youth did little for Cézanne. He was a late bloomer—and for some reason in our accounting of genius and creativity we have forgotten to make sense of the Cézannes of the world.
Old 16th March 2015 | Show parent
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by badmark View Post
The freshness, exuberance, and energy of youth did little for Cézanne. He was a late bloomer—and for some reason in our accounting of genius and creativity we have forgotten to make sense of the Cézannes of the world.[/I]
I notice this a lot in current pop culture. More emphasis on youth and dismissing the input of maturity.

In the 80's, and prior, music was dominated by 30 and older. TV and movies as well. We placed value on actors who had decades of experience under their belts.

Currently, 'over 30' is considered an obstacle... some of the greatest artists ever (music/actors/painters etc.) were at their prime in their 30's.
Old 16th March 2015
  #12
136358 🎙️
Guest
I was mainly talking about songwriting, and by environmental I was talking about life factors like not actively struggling and being content as opposed to physical factors like the brain naturally changing with age
Old 16th March 2015
  #13
Lives for gear
 

On the contrary. The true musicians (which is solely my term, not meaning it belongs only to me, but that I decide to use it deliberately in this case as a representation of my own perspective) get more subtle and profound with the age.

The others who sort of fall out have never been interested in the music with their whole soul.

And as always, the time shows unquestioningly to whom the music was the means and to whom it was the reason.
Old 16th March 2015
  #14
Lives for gear
 
timemist's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by innoverse View Post
There are some exceptions, but I and I'm sure many other people have noticed a general decline in quality of musicians as they get older.

Is there a physical change in the brain or is it more environmental?

Just curious
Are you asking about pop music or music in general? Those are two very different things. Quality in the latter is determined by time, whereas the former is determined by the bottom line, most of which will be forgotten over time.
Old 16th March 2015 | Show parent
  #15
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Withme Whostoned View Post
The others who sort of fall out have never been interested in the music with their whole soul.

And as always, the time shows unquestioningly to whom the music was the means and to whom it was the reason.
You really feel comfortable judging the depths of someone's soul by the way their musical output changes with age?

They all seem to fall out. And not just by "pop" standards. McCartney for example has written some truly awful music in the past 15 years by most musician's standards. . does that mean his Beatles years were only half-soul?
Old 16th March 2015
  #16
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

How's this for a theory;

Because when someone is reasonably young there can be a coming together of a set of factors which I think include:

- energy levels
- hunger

...and most of all, being most connected to the time. As in, this is YOUR time if you're young, the last lot had theirs already. And regardless how talented you are, only while within that window of being fully 'of your time' are you granted full access to the pulse of your time and delivering music that has THAT impact.

You can still make beautiful music to whatever age, but the stuff that BANGS, does so because it it rooted and referenced to ITS time.
Old 16th March 2015 | Show parent
  #17
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
You really feel comfortable judging the depths of someone's soul by the way their musical output changes with age?

They all seem to fall out. And not just by "pop" standards. McCartney for example has written some truly awful music in the past 15 years by most musician's standards. . does that mean his Beatles years were only half-soul?
No, I only am comfortable recognizing one's development in correlation to his own reasons for doing whatever he's doing.

I said, on the contrary, because (yes, I'm obsessed with orchestral/symphonic/classical music) in the genre of my obsession it's clearly visible that those composers age like wine, the older the more developed.

I have my own theory of why pop isn't usually that way, and it's to do with how warped perspective of pop music is on general level and that musician caught in the pop scene tend to cater to the audience more than to the ideas of greatness. And of course, because how limiting by design the pop songs are. I can, and quite honestly think to be correct, assume that pop music dulls you as a musician.

Also, the fact that most people usually perform their songs in pop whereas you don't really perform your own symphonies, can contribute to the fact that your evolution as a composer is somewhat held back. I can imagine McCartney doing dozen of thousands of performances... That by itself is a hindering effect to one's creativity. Instead of advancing forward in thought and approach, one has to keep on recycling the same old story again and again for audiences' amusement.

And as for depths of one's soul,..it's the same for every being in the existence. It stretches to the core of all there is...call it the god or whatever. That is why, all is equal, yet not the same.
Old 16th March 2015
  #18
mixmixmix 🎙️
Guest
don't get lazy,don't rest on your laurels
Old 16th March 2015 | Show parent
  #19
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Withme Whostoned View Post
I said, on the contrary, because (yes, I'm obsessed with orchestral/symphonic/classical music) in the genre of my obsession it's clearly visible that those composers age like wine, the older the more developed.
There's no correlation between age and best work in classical.

http://assets.gcstatic.com/u/apps/as...1400256635.png

I don't like your premise that "true" artists do their best work later in life, and if they peak out young they're somehow lesser.

Art is art. Age is meaningless. Countless examples of great works at all ages.
Old 16th March 2015 | Show parent
  #20
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
There's no correlation between age and best work in classical.

http://assets.gcstatic.com/u/apps/as...1400256635.png

I don't like your premise that "true" artists do their best work later in life, and if they peak out young they're somehow lesser.

Art is art. Age is meaningless. Countless examples of great works at all ages.
Heh. Age is one of proportionate measurements possible to measure one's development with. Simply because of how the existence works in regards to human nature, that is each moment is an experience which gets added to the overall amount of experience one has that is then used as a basis for creation of one's perspective of the world.

The older you are, the more information you have been able to internalize and work with. Who was the last young age dude that might have reached the depths of the old age wisdom.. Jesus ? Maybe..

And that picture references Beethoven's 9th Symphony, as if his 5th or 6th weren't masterpieces at all.
Old 16th March 2015
  #21
Gear Maniac
 
Gazsilla's Avatar
It's rare to sustain the same level after extreme success. Probably a hunger thing.

I agree with whoever said it doesn't apply to classical. Newguy1? Probably because music wasn't as commercial in those times, so people probably wrote for different reasons than they do today.
Old 17th March 2015 | Show parent
  #22
Gear Addict
 
JahRastafariMMA's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Magic Alex View Post
Also a huge factor. Pink Floyd is a good example. As a band, they produced some of the most influential albums of our time. After Waters left, PF lost a bit of their edge. But Waters as a solo act never produced anything ground-breaking. Neither did the others in their solo careers.

Some say that Syd Barrett was the genius behind PF. But did his solo albums make a lasting impression?

Band chemistry is another random ingredient.
I disagree. Some of Roger Waters' solo stuff is classic. Certain songs such as 'Amused to Death', & 'What God Wants' are fan favorites.



As for Syd, he had a musical style that Pink Floyd got their start with in the late 60s, & they were actually in the studio next to The Beatles at Abbey Road during 'Sgt. Pepper' being recorded, & the Beatles likely were influenced by what Floyd were doing on in 1967, as the word is that some of the Beatles went into Floyd's studio for a session. Nick Mason & Roger Waters tell different stories of the event. https://uk.answers.yahoo.com/questio...2150939AAvNFjK

With Syd gone, they evolved quickly, and peaked with 'Dark Side of the Moon'.
'Wish You Were Here' & 'Animals' are "the plateau", then 'The Wall' is the decline & the literal end.

You are correct, without Roger Waters, the band wasn't the same. It didn't have that epicness. It's like The Grateful Dead without Jerry Garcia.
Old 17th March 2015
  #23
I feel like with a lot of successful artists, it's because all the things they sang about, they eventually got.

No more wanting, no more challenge.

Music needs friction.
Old 17th March 2015 | Show parent
  #24
Gear Addict
 
JahRastafariMMA's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Withme Whostoned View Post
Who was the last young age dude that might have reached the depths of the old age wisdom.. Jesus ? Maybe..
LOL
You forgot about Jim Morrison.
Old 17th March 2015 | Show parent
  #25
Gear Addict
 
JahRastafariMMA's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sameal View Post
I feel like with a lot of successful artists, it's because all the things they sang about, they eventually got.
What's an example of that?
I wasn't aware that songs were about "things u don't have, but would otherwise have with monetary success".

A song such as "Turn, Turn, Turn", is that about something that u can get?
Old 17th March 2015 | Show parent
  #26
Gear Addict
 
JahRastafariMMA's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Withme Whostoned View Post
I can imagine McCartney doing dozen of thousands of performances... That by itself is a hindering effect to one's creativity. Instead of advancing forward in thought and approach, one has to keep on recycling the same old story again and again for audiences' amusement.
If that is one's attitude, then one would not be publicly playing their songs in such a manner. The negative attitude would come across in the music. To belittle one's own audience? I don't think McCartney would do that.

Audiences' amusement? I wasn't aware that people listened to an artist live in order to receive amusement.
Old 17th March 2015 | Show parent
  #27
Gear Addict
 
JahRastafariMMA's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Withme Whostoned View Post
On the contrary. The true musicians (which is solely my term, not meaning it belongs only to me, but that I decide to use it deliberately in this case as a representation of my own perspective) get more subtle and profound with the age.

The others who sort of fall out have never been interested in the music with their whole soul.
[/B]
I'd argue that an artist who views a concert as a means of "amusing the audience", isn't interested in music with their whole soul.
Old 17th March 2015 | Show parent
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by JahRastafariMMA View Post
What's an example of that?
I wasn't aware that songs were about "things u don't have, but would otherwise have with monetary success".

A song such as "Turn, Turn, Turn", is that about something that u can get?
I didn't necessarily mean all of it being monetary.

I mean, if you have everything you want in life, and are truely happy with no regrets, what are you going to talk about?

If youve tackled the struggle, killed the competition, and came out king of the mountain, whats there to say anymore?

Unfortunately all my examples would only relate to music I listen too.
Old 17th March 2015
  #29
Gear Addict
 
TonyVegas's Avatar
 

Why don't celebrity musicians stay on top forever? Because the image makers and marketing people who put them on top tend to move on to other, younger, more marketable artists who are eager to sign away their lives for their first record contract & a chance at fame. Being on top is not a product of the artists work. The artist is just the picture on the box. It is the managers, the marketers, the image makers, that get a song on the radio enough times over the summer that it becomes a nostalgic piece of the public's collective consciousness. And that's what differentiates some random dude posting songs on you-tube vs the cherished celebrities of all time.
Old 17th March 2015 | Show parent
  #30
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JahRastafariMMA View Post
If that is one's attitude, then one would not be publicly playing their songs in such a manner. The negative attitude would come across in the music. To belittle one's own audience? I don't think McCartney would do that.

Audiences' amusement? I wasn't aware that people listened to an artist live in order to receive amusement.
No, it's just my attitude, hence I don't perform anything myself, not in a manner that would allow one call it a "performance" anyway.

I understand that for a member of a band like The Beatles, live performances are part of the show and the experience. But it tends to be more about the show than the depths of one's music. People just wanna have a good time from all the bad time they're having already, I get that.

I've only tried to differentiate between someone who's spent thousands of hours to perform the same thing over and over again, from someone who's spent that amount of hours to create new stuff.
📝 Reply
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
🖨️ Show Printable Version
✉️ Email this Page
🔍 Search thread
🎙️ View mentioned gear
Forum Jump
Forum Jump