Inside Out

We don’t do this anymore in the music business. We don’t have any blockbuster acts reinventing themselves with every project, garnering stellar reviews and great customer word of mouth which ultimately rains coin and makes everybody happy.

That’s right. After a detour into sequelmania, which generates cash but leaves everybody unsatisfied, Pixar dropped a blockbuster which is setting sales records.

And how did they do this?

By baking cookies and showing up at fans’ doorsteps?

No, that would be Taylor Swift, who was one time an original but is now so busy dashing for cash and fame that she’s sold out her sound. Ignore the hype and the sales records. The media needs something to cheer, and there’s nothing there.

Or maybe Luke Bryan. But despite an endless supply of hit albums, Luke’s sound remains the same, and his appeal stops at the country border. Whereas “Inside Out” is for everybody. Worldwide.

Kind of like Adele.

That’s the last big blockbuster we’ve had in music, Adele’s “21.” And let me remind you, in addition to selling more than ten million copies in America, where the album is dead, she fulfilled none of the supposed requirements. There was no huge social media campaign wherein Adele tweeted her way into your heart, she did not tie up with corporate sponsors, all she did was make great music, what a concept.

That’s what’s been missing.

The young people don’t want to admit they’ve failed.

And the old people are afraid of looking just that, old, so they keep saying today’s music is as good as ever, and that if you’re a naysayer you’re wrong.

But come on, what kind of crazy fucked up world do we live in where Beck creates an Album of the Year that no one hears and no one wants to. It’s not like you can’t check out “Morning Phase” for free, but after all the hoopla no one cared, because Beck doesn’t touch all the bases, he doesn’t appeal to most listeners.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just that the music industry voted for “Morning Phase” instead of something more appealing, which doesn’t exist.

And then we get the endless accolades for Kanye West. Who is anything but universal. Trumpeting Mr. West is kind of like raving about Iron Maiden, he’s an acquired taste. Oh, his appeal is greater than that of Steve Harris and the boys, but it doesn’t penetrate the masses, no matter what you might read.

And the masses are hungry. They want great.

The movie business has been faltering. Grosses are way off. But it turns out if you deliver something fantastic, people want to go.

And I’m not talking about the comic book films. The genre tentpoles. Those are Taylor Swift, made for an audience and ignored by everybody else.

Pixar is like Steely Dan.

No, that’s not good enough, Pixar is like THE BEATLES!

If you lived through the era, not only did you anticipate the four’s work, you were always stunned how each record was different. They kept pushing the envelope, while their contemporaries repeated the formula and their careers fell off a cliff.

There’s never been a movie like “Inside Out” before. You can’t even explain it. The same way you couldn’t explain the second side of “Abbey Road,” you just had to hear it.

Pixar is akin to its sister company Apple. Which has dazzled us so many times that we follow it into new territory. Believe me, if Microsoft had made the Watch it would be dead on arrival.

It’s about careers. It’s about reconstituting building blocks to deliver something new and tantalizing.

It’s about vision and freedom. Two things sorely lacking in the big money music world.

In this crazy fucked up world the businessman is king and the “artist” is secondary. If the businessman was so insightful he’d make the music himself. But no one told Led Zeppelin what to record. All those acts in Warner-Reprise’s heyday… They delivered what they wanted to, the label’s only chore was to sell it.

And we were so excited we talked about music, we lived at the record store, we went to the concert to be taken away by the sound, not dazzled by the special effects. And people knew the new material. It wasn’t an endless supply of greatest hits.

We need a new hero. A whole slew of them, in fact.

The bar is very high.

All the rules go out the window if you reach this artistic pinnacle. Take as long as you want, spend as much as you want, we’re desirous of something to sink our teeth into.

We know it when we hear it.

And we haven’t heard it in a very long time.

“Box office: Disney Pixar feeling joy as ‘Inside Out’ opens big”:


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  1. bear_in_mind commented on Jun 28

    I often find Mr. Lefsetz’s commentary to be somewhat disjointed and this one is no exception, however, his thesis is more on-point and salient than many of his other commentaries.

    I totally concur with Mr. Lefsetz’s description of what it was like anticipating a band’s new album and the unfolding process of discovery that occurred when listening to an LP for the first, second, third, fourth and fifth time. Your appreciation grew (in most cases, anyway) with each subsequent journey into the aural world created by bands of the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and to some degree, the 90’s. You felt like you were on journey of discovery into that place where words end and music begins, a unique form of poetry that reverberated in your heart, mind and body. It had the power to connect you with the inner lives of millions of others, seeing the world for the first time through a new prism which the album presented.

    An album meant something to listeners because it meant something to the musicians creating it. There was an intentionality to the process. It wasn’t some hodge-podge of tracks thrown together haphazardly as so often is the case in today’s music. There was a striving toward common concerns, themes, morés.

    In the sweep of intervening decades, we’ve subsequently learned of the hundreds of songs cast aside in the process of creating classic albums, attesting to the importance of bands’ intentionality, but also their commitment to creativity and orginality. That’s what Mr. Lefsetz is rightly pointing to.

    I’m not sure how those tenets are recaptured short of a rear-guard movement to stomp-out sampling and Auto-Tune. I don’t give a crap about your dance moves, costumes or stage sets. Give me live instrumentation, musical virtuosity, melody and harmony, and something heartfelt to say about the world in which we live. Be about striving for a better understanding of yourself, our communities, the world we live in.

    (P.S. Pixar is most *definitely* not Steely Dan, unless you equate John Lasseter as someone who shows-up for work too drunk to remember the lines of his own work )

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