What do Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Mozart all have in common? And what do they have in common with practically every other artist who’s creativity has changed the world?
They are all unique.
But there is something in common.
They each changed the popular music of their times by combining already popular forms in a new way.
Elvis – on that famous and fateful day in Sun Studios in Memphis he let it all loose and brought it all together again differently… the blues, country, gospel and regional elements that were his influences in his youth all came together into rockabilly, rock and roll, something that had not been heard before. Elvis on Ed Sullivan also brought together the new music form and the new medium – television in a new way which has influenced generations of rock icons to first pick up their guitar.
Bob Dylan… they pulled the plug on his concert when he dared to bring out electric instruments, drums and a backbeat to his folk and protest music. But Dylan had his own vision of his music and it contained his influences from Woody Guthrie but also the last decade of rock and roll and other influences.. again.. he combined popular music forms in a new way.
The Beatles… well they set the world on fire with their style and their hair cuts and all that. The Beatles on Ed Sullivan – still one of the great moments in rock and television history. But do you know that in the mid 60’s they didn’t release a CD for almost two years and then came out with Sgt Pepper – the orchestration, song structure and the bringing together of elements in a completely new way is what made history.
Mozart? Well, see the great movie, Amadeus, and you will understand better than I can illustrate here. But it is another case in point.
Another one that could be mentioned here is Johnny Cash. As Bruce Springsteen said (not an exact quote)… Johnny Cash broke down barriers to communication and artistic styles and, not only did he break those barriers down, but he showed why it is important to do so.
Cash’s music contains many elements brought together for the first time in different parts of his career.
So the point…? If you want to make music that changes the world, don’t just be the latest kid on the block, the latest rapper in the hood, the latest rocker in the backstreet clubs. Do something that has not been done before by combining elements that are already popular in a new and creative way.
Perhaps this unique combining of other art forms is so impactful because it aligns with the derivation of the word “art” itself. The derivation of the word art basically means… to join together.
The world needs great artists. Start!