Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Taking time to get the talent right

In the end, it comes down to talent. Forget about spending your time advocating for radio quotas for Irish bands, agitating against Spotify’s royalty rates and giving out yards about not getting support gigs. They’re important, but not as important …

Fri, Nov 11, 2011, 10:00

   

In the end, it comes down to talent. Forget about spending your time advocating for radio quotas for Irish bands, agitating against Spotify’s royalty rates and giving out yards about not getting support gigs. They’re important, but not as important as having the talent to write a song which gets everyone singing along in the first place.

Broadcast on BBC1 during the week, Simon and Garfunkel – The Harmony Game, Jennifer Lebeau’s excellent documentary on the writing and recording of the duo’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, provided a masterclass in what talent is all about.

Paul Simon may have written the timeless title track, but it was Art Garfunkel’s voice which made that song soar. Unlike what happens in the fairytales, the song didn’t just appear overnight in Simon’s imagination. It took time to fashion that tune from a raw demo and rough idea into a recording which record label boss Clive Davis knew on first listen was one of those once-in-a-decade tunes.

It’s important to remember too that “Bridge Over Troubled Water” didn’t sound like anything else on the radio at the time. When it was played, it stood out from what came before and after it. While many acts and labels would baulk at the idea of releasing such a strange tune as a single, Simon & Garfunkel took a leap of faith and the rest is history.

For acts, there are plenty of lessons in all of this, but many will chose to ignore them. After all, grumbling about not getting played on daytime radio is easier to do than writing a brilliant song. After all, if Simon & Garfunkel were more concerned about radio, we’d probably never have got “Bridge Over Troubled Water” in the first place. Time to acts to realise that the really important stuff comes down to what they do with the talent they have.